Many Angels fans are up in arms today over the fact that Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP award over Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who finished a distant second.
The voting wasn’t even close, with Cabrera being placed first on 22 of the 28 ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America. Trout received the other six first-place votes and finished with 281 points. Cabrera finished with 362 points.
But really, it was an easy pick. Let’s compare the two players.
Trout hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs. He led the league with 129 runs scored and 49 stolen bases. His OPS+ was 171 and his WAR was 10.7.
Cabrera won the triple crown, leading the AL in batting average (.330), homers (44) and RBIs (139). He also led the league in slugging percentage (.606). His OPS+ was 165 and his WAR was 6.9.
Trout was robbed of a Gold Glove award after his standout play in center. Cabrera, at best, is an average third baseman.
So, it all comes down to how much credit you give Trout for leading in the sabermetric categories, such as OPS+ and WAR. Those numbers are indeed important, and I don’t want to just dismiss them as worthless. They aren’t.
But the fact is Cabrera is the first player to win the triple crown since 1967. He led his team to the playoffs. It doesn’t matter what sabermetric stat you come up with, you can’t overcome those two facts. In this case, that trumps Trout’s edge in other categories. If it was “Player of the Year” award, Trout would deserve it. But it’s the “Most VALUABLE Player” award.
Mike Trout is a great player, and will probably win several MVP awards before he is done playing. But this season, Miguel Cabrera was just a little bit better.