Tag: MVP

Angels Mike Trout Far More Valuable Than Tigers Miguel Cabrera in AL MVP Race

If Mike Trout does not win the American League MVP, I will lose all faith in humanity.

Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. The Most Valuable Player in the AL has been one of the hottest topics in baseball with the subject becoming scorching hot over the past few weeks.

For the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, you have the phenom and without-a-doubt choice for this year’s Rookie of the Year award-winner in Mike Trout. The center fielder, at 21 years of age, is setting himself up to be the winner of MVP awards for years to come.

On the other side, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has the opportunity to accomplish something on a baseball diamond that fans haven’t seen since Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967: win the Triple Crown.

Before going into my reasons for why Trout should come out on top, I want to give full and complete disclosure that I believe both have had seasons deserving of the award. Please do not take my higher admiration for Trout’s season as a knock on Cabrera’s accomplishments in 2012. Both are incredible.

This is, however, an article on the most valuable player, not players.

A decision must be made.

And although I don’t have a vote, if I did I would select Trout.

While the numbers speak volumes, the numbers themselves aren’t the entire basis of my argument, but it’s still a good place to start.

Cabrera leads all three major batting categories of batting average, home runs and runs batted in over Trout with just two games left in the season. Cabrera’s stats would earn him the first Triple Crown in 45 years, and that is nothing to just brush off.

Cabrera has a stat line of .329/44/137 and helped earn the Detroit Tigers their first consecutive division titles in 77 years.

At .325/30/83, Trout’s season will end on Wednesday with the Angels failing to make it to October baseball.

These numbers are a tad deceiving for a variety of reasons.

Again, no knock on Cabrera. Any GM in baseball would love to have a guy playing for their team who put up those numbers. Just as I’m sure the Angels would have loved to have had Mike Trout for an entire season as opposed to calling him up in late April when the team was 6-14. Hindsight is 20/20, but for those who value the “did (player) lead his team to the playoffs” argument, you do have to wonder what type of impact on the standings Trout could have made in those 20 games he missed.

Even without those extra 20 games, Trout still managed to do something no rookie has ever accomplished: hitting 30-plus home runs while stealing 40-plus bases in the same season. Currently sitting at 48 steals, if Trout were to swipe two more bags by the end of his season Wednesday, he would join Eric Davis and Barry Bonds as the only players in MLB history with a 30 HR/50 SB season.

Trout has eight triples this season compared to zero by Cabrera and has also scored 129 runs compared to Cabrera’s 109.

Where they bat in the lineup plays a decent-sized role here. Trout is a leadoff guy, so it is assumed he would score more runs than someone like Cabrera who bats in the middle of the order. On the other side, Cabrera typically bats with runners on base more frequently than Trout and that gives him an advantage in the RBI count. Looking at these numbers, the case for Cabrera to win MVP is not huge in my opinion, but from the basic stats alone he would get my vote.

This isn’t your grandfather’s game anymore. The entire hierarchy, from ownership to general managers, to fans like ourselves have new stats and tools to evaluate talent in a much more accurate way than in the past.

Because of this I believe the Triple Crown is overrated.

Since 1909, the award has been won 12 times, including both leagues having Triple Crown winners in Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein in 1933. Yes, it was a different era back then, but the whole “once in a lifetime” argument is a bit tired in my opinion. Let’s save that phrase for a Cubs World Series title.

On that same thought, I am not a huge saber metrics guy. I believe the game has done an excellent job at integrating technology (okay, minus the replays) and bringing the game along while still holding on to the romanticism of the good old days of baseball. When determining an MVP, I believe the old school stats and saber metrics should be mixed in with watching the games themselves.

This is where Trout takes over the vote in my opinion.

As mentioned earlier, Trout is much quicker than Cabrera as seen by stats such as stolen bases (48 to 4). What doesn’t show up in the cookie-cut stat sheet of MLB.com is how frequently Trout has advanced from first to third on a shallow fly ball and how often he is able to score from second on a ball that routinely wouldn’t allow a run.

By watching Trout play, you realize just how much of an effect he has on the game that pen and paper could never tell you.

Sure, in the box score it may just say “F-8,” but in reality Trout has made numerous plays this season that should have been singles, doubles in the gap or even home runs, and turned them into outs.

Cabrera is not too great of a defender. And while the move to third, where he is an average/slightly below average fielder in my opinion, was done in order to accommodate Prince Fielder’s arrival in Detroit, the defensive aspect has me swaying heavily toward Trout.

Miguel Cabrera is one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. If you disagree with that, I am not entirely sure why you are still reading this. When that guy has a bat in his hand, the game could change at any moment.

Mike Trout, on the other hand, is the ultimate five-tool player.

He combines hitting for average with power, can field outstandingly with solid arm strength, as well as change the dynamic of the game with his speed.

WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, is a great way to calculate just how a player affects a game based on everything they do on the diamond.  To simplify a rather complex formula, it assigns a numerical value to how many wins that player earns a team compared to a “replacement level” fielder at the same position.

Mike Trout has a WAR of 10.3 while Miguel Cabrera is at 7.1. Trout has led in AL WAR ranking every full month this year with the exception of September, when he was second behind Adrian Beltre. As I’ve stated, I’m not a huge fan of saber metrics, but that stat is very impressive.

There is value in leading your team to the postseason. There is value in the Triple Crown award. There is also value in an outstanding member of a team who virtually carried the organization on his shoulders starting in late April and fell just short of October.

You can’t take a team to the promised land all alone. It takes the entire roster.

Mike Trout didn’t single-handedly fail by not getting the Angels in, just as Miguel Cabrera was not the sole contributor to Detroit’s division title.  For what it’s worth, the Angels have a better record.

At the end of the day, both guys are deserving.  Had the rest of the Angels lived up to expectations and made the playoffs like Detroit, I feel that the conversation would be much closer.

When I eliminate the thought of the team and consider who is the Most Valuable Player?

Mike Trout. Hands down.

Brandon Wheeland is a staff writer for Climbing Tal’s Hill where he covers the Houston Astros. Read his thoughts on all things sports at his blog Wheeland On Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonWheeland

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MLB Writers Who Won’t Vote a Pitcher for MVP Shouldn’t Be Voting at All

A pitcher has the right to an MVP award. It Seems logical enough. After all, pitchers have won them in the past, the most recent being Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland A’s in 1992. Since then no pitcher has won the award and, with the exception of Pedro Martinez in 1999, no pitcher has truly deserved it either. 

That very well may change this season. Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander, owner of a 21-5 record as of September 3rd, could be on his way to taking home the hardware.

Among the more complex issues in determining an award such as the MVP is the rules surrounding the voting process. These rules, which were drafted in 1931, are neither lengthy nor specific:

(1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.”- BBWAA (Baseball Writer’s Association of America) rules. 

All in all, the rules are pretty vague. There’s certainly no way one could conclude the award should not be given to a pitcher. However, every season a pitcher becomes involved in the debate, fans are treated to a stream of reasons why pitchers shouldn’t win the award. 

There’s the “they have their own award” argument, which is a decent point. The Cy Young award is handed out to the league’s best pitcher annually. “Best” and “Most Valuable” are two different designations though. That holds true on offense as well where players with simply outstanding offensive numbers have not won the MVP award in large part because the team they played on was not headed toward the postseason. The fact that pitchers can win the Cy Young in no way deems them ineligible for the MVP award.

The fact that they’re not everyday players is another invalid point. While it’s true that pitchers don’t play everyday (a great starter may amass as many 40 starts and a closer might make up to 60 appearances), what about the “value” of those appearances?

All fans love the walk-off, but a great closer may end as many as 50 games in a single season. A good closer negates those walk-offs that fans enjoy so much. From 1981 to 1992, when the closer was know as a “fireman”, the position was even tougher. Rather than coming in for just one inning the pitcher would come in with runners on base and the game in the balance. Perhaps that’s why from 1981-1992 three closers, Rollie Fingers, Willie Hernandez, and Dennis Eckersley, all won the AL MVP award.

Starters appear even less, but no other player in baseball has a greater impact on a game than the starting pitcher. A dominant starting pitcher can make offensive performance almost unnecessary. By contrast, a bad starter may squander a start regardless of how good his offensive support is. How valuable was the 7-1 lead given to Tim Hudson of the Oakland A’s a little more than a week ago? Not very—his inability to be effective after the third inning led to an eventual 22-9 Yankee win. Included in that win was a grand slam home run by current MVP candidate Curtis Granderson. The blast made the score 21-9. Was there any “value” in that home run? Not really.

Those are the two reasons that seem to be uttered the most in defense of not voting for a pitcher for the MVP award. Neither one however addresses a pitcher’s value—or a lack of. 

If the BBWAA has active members who, on the record, claim to not include pitchers in consideration for the MVP award, those members should be urged by current BBWAA president Ken Davidoff to reconsider. Awards are there for a reason. The MVP is supposed to honor the “most valuable player” not the “most valuable everyday position player.”

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Josh Hamilton Out: What Does That Mean for the Other AL MVP Canidates?

Yesterday, Josh Hamilton ran into a wall chasing down a fly ball.  Today, it was confirmed that he would be out indefinitely. So what does that mean for the other MVP hopefuls like Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, and possibly even CC Sabathia?

Hamilton was the clear MVP favorite, hitting .361 with 31 home runs and 97 RBI.  Still only in early September, it wasn’t to hard to imagine a 40 homer and 110 RBI season for Hamilton.  It’s been a tough week physically for Josh.  Earlier this week, he was out when he felt pain in his right knee and had a shot of Synvisc, a lubricant designed to relieve inflammation, after Tuesday’s game. 

Of the hit against the wall, Hamilton said it felt “like I have been in a car wreck.”  He would know because he experienced one back in 2001.  As I said before, Hamilton was likely to win the MVP, but now that he’s out with bruised ribs, what happens to the MVP race?

If the Tigers and Yankees had either the same or similar records, most people would say that Miguel Cabrera would win the award.  However, Detroit is third in an already weak division, the AL Central.  This undoubtedly has shied voters away from him.  Also, only one time since the player strike in 1994 has a player been voted MVP on a team under .500 (A-Rod is 2003 with the Rangers).

The next probable option for MVP is Robinson Cano.  He has hit .329/.412/.624 in the cleanup spot, which he has had to because Alex Rodriguez just yesterday was on the 15-day disabled list.  Cano also ranks fourth in the AL in intentional walks (12), which shows just how much of a feared hitter Robinson has become.

And then there’s CC Sabathia.  CC is 19-5 on the season with a 3.02 ERA and has already thrown over 200 innings, the fourth time he will have in his young career.  Sabathia has very impressive stats, but some say that he doesn’t even deserve the Cy Young, so how can he win the MVP? 

Others say that the MVP should be for position players only, not pitchers.  Voters that are old-time fixated are probably going to disregard CC as they look at the possible winners,which, again, is a strike against him.

Needless to say, Hamilton’s injury has certainly shaken up the MVP race, and it will be a surprise I personally look forward to as the season end dawns.

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Sizing Up The American League MVP Race

Last week, I sized up the American League and National League Rookie of the Year races, so this week I thought I would take a look at the AL and NL MVP races. In both leagues the award is wide open.

That’s kind of unusual because usually in one league someone runs away with the award. Not this year. There are at least three or four players in each league who have a legitimate shot at winning the MVP.

Here is how the AL MVP race sizes up for me…

Best of the Rest

Paul Konerko, Vladimir Guerrero, Adrian Beltre

The Contenders

Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays: .259/.373/.600 with 40 HR’s. It’s hard to give an MVP award to a guy batting .259 on a fourth-place team, but Bautista is having a tremendous season and should get votes based on his power numbers.

Bautista leads all of baseball in HR’s with 40, is third in SLG (.600) and fourth in OPS (.973).

Robinson Cano, New York Yankees: .323/.388/.563 with 25 HR’s. Cano has officially turned the corner in his career and is having a career year in 2010 for the Yankees. Cano ranks in the top-10 in the AL in seven offensive categories.

Unless a Yankee is having an all world season like Alex Rodriguez in 2007, then they have a tough time getting votes for this award. Most voters feel the player is a product of the lineup more than a product of their ability. It might not be the best logic in the world, but it is what it is.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: .342/.436/.641 with 31 HR’s. Cabrera is fighting for the triple crown in 2010 as he is second in average, second in HR’s, and first in RBI. Those rankings alone with get Cabrera plenty of votes.

The issue Cabrera will have is that the Tigers have really fallen on their faces in the second half. The Tigers are a third-place team in a weak division. That can’t help Cabrera’s cause.

The Winner

Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: .356/.406/.631 with 29 HR’s. Hamilton leads the AL in hits (170), avg. (.356), is second in OPS (1.037), and is first in WAR (7.1). He is having an unbelievable season in Texas.

Hamilton wins this award for me because he is the best player on a team that has the biggest lead of any division leader in baseball. If he can stay healthy in September, he will win this award.

Tomorrow, I will size up the NL MVP race.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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