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And the MVP Awards will go to …

Nov 15, 2012, 9:27 AM EDT

Miguel Cabrera Getty Getty Images

Awards week concludes tonight when, at 6PM Eastern, the winners of the MVP Awards, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America, will be announced on MLB Network.  Let’s break it down:

The Finalists

American League:  Adrian BeltreMiguel CabreraRobinson CanoJosh Hamilton, Mike Trout

National LeagueRyan BraunChase HeadleyAndrew McCutchenYadier MolinaBuster Posey

The Favorites:

Everyone agrees that the AL Award is going to come down to the Tigers Miguel Cabrera and the Angels Mike Trout.  The National League is thought by most to be a three-horse race, with either the Giants Buster Posey, the Brewers Ryan Braun or the Cardinals Yadier Molina poised to take home the hardware.

The Arguments:

The American League MVP has been argued about for a couple of months now.  If you’re familiar with the arguments, you’re likely tired of them. If not, know that it comes down, as these things so often do, to a difference of opinion about what constitutes value.

Those who support Miguel Cabrera note that he did something which hadn’t been done for 45 years: win the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139), all while leading the Tigers to the playoffs.  He is given extra credit by his supporters for moving to third base after playing at first base for several years, and such a move is no small trick, historically speaking.

The Trout supporters, meanwhile, point to his overall game, noting that his offensive numbers were almost as good as Cabrera’s — he hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBI and posted an OBP of .399 and slugged at a .564 clip — but that he (a) was a fantastic baserunner, stealing 49 bases in 54 attempts; and (b) played elite defense in center field as well, while Cabrera’s time at third base was decidedly lackluster, even if it was admirable.  While the Angels, unlike the Tigers, did not make the playoffs, Trout supporters argue that this wasn’t Trout’s fault, as he was not with the team for the first month of the season. They also note that, playoffs or not, the Angels won more games than the Tigers did, while playing in a tougher division. If you ask them, they’ll also tell you that the quality of the team a player is on should not have any bearing on his qualifications for an individual award like the MVP.

The National League arguments are less contentious. The defending MVP, Ryan Braun, had another fantastic season, leading the league in homers (41), runs (108) and OPS (.987). Posey, meanwhile, led the league in batting average (.336) and OPS+ (172), which adjusts OPS for the ballpark in which he played (Posey’s home park, AT&T Park, is rougher on hitters than Miller Park in Milwaukee).  Posey also catches and does it well, which gives him more defensive value than Braun.  The Cardinals Yadier Molina, for his part, is perhaps the best defensive catcher in living memory. And while he did not lead the league in any offensive categories, he posted a fantastic offensive season hitting .315/.373/.501 while hitting 22 homers to accompany that other-worldly defense behind the plate.

There are some other, less statistical arguments for and against these fellows as well. Posey came back in 2012 after a gruesome leg injury. Braun, the 2011 MVP, was dogged by a positive (but ultimately overturned on appeal) PED test at the end of last year, which will likely cause many voters to discount his case and/or punish him for what happened in the offseason.  Molina doesn’t have a narrative case like that, unless some voters give him a bit of extra value for helping lead the Cardinals to the playoffs after they lost future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to free agency. That’s not likely to be a major factor, however.

The Prediction:

Ultimately MVP voters are going to be unable to resist voting for a Triple Crown winner and are going to be unable to cast votes for a guy in Ryan Braun who many view as tainted by PEDs. Molina will, as he so often has been over the course of his career, be overlooked and underrated.

As such, Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey,this writer predicts, will take home the hardware and it won’t be particularly close.  Tune it to MLB Network at 6PM tonight — or just come here to HardballTalk — to find out for sure.

  1. darthicarus - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Based on your first sentence regarding the predictions Craig, it appears you believe Braun & Trout should win the MVPs though you believe the voters will pick the opposite.

    Correct?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:38 AM

      No. If I had a vote it would be Trout and Posey.

      Though I do think that Braun will get far less support than warranted and don’t think he should be dinged for the PED stuff last year.

      • darthicarus - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        In a “perfect” world I would like to see Cabrera & Trout share it as they both had outstanding seasons with solid arguments for both sides. I wouldn’t have an issue with either Braun or Posey winning and I agree that Braun is getting vilified for something that should have never been made public knowledge.

      • justiniodiddly - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:07 AM

        Agree Craig. Having that NL vote, and being forced to use your moral compass regarding something Braun MIGHT have done is not an enviable position. Much easier to have that AL pick and give it to the guy with the most RBIs (even if he is a drunk driving domestic abuser who threatened to kill a group of strangers after his drunken “do you know who I am?” plea didn’t pan out).

    • Bruce Knutson - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      MVP is about more than numbers. With 6 teams making the playoffs in each league now, more than ever, if a player can’t lead his team to the playoffs he will have a very tough time winning the MVP award.
      http://sfgiantsfansunite.blogspot.com/

      • alang3131982 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        It is easier to make the play-offs why is that a better determinant now? If it got easier to hit 50 HRs, wouldnt we say that hitting 50 HRs was no longer a requisite of the MVP.

        Something being hard, like getting on base, stealing bases at a proficient rate and playing a superb defensive center field, should be the measure of an MVP. Not being in the crappiest division against the crappiest competition and sneaking into the play-offs with the AL’s 7th best record…

        your comment is asinine

  2. dcfan4life - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Its going to be Cabrera and Posey. The first man in forever to win a triple crown despite the steroid era speaks volumes. Not to mention Trout won ROY and most writers im sure feel he we eventually win multiple MVPs anyway. Posey seems the logical NL MVP. I dont care what anyone says but those postseason heroics always sway voters when its close like that. And man did Posey have some of those helping the Giants win it all.

    • darthicarus - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Aren’t votes collected after the regular season is finished but before the playoffs start?

    • dwrek5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      Aren’t the votes cast before the playoffs?

    • alang3131982 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      At least have an inkling of the topic you’re discussing. VOTES ARE CAST BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS START you moron.

      In addition, Trout was the first rookie in forever to be absolutely amazing. In no world was Cabrera more valuable than Trout (or even Robinson Cano) based on three arbitrary numbers. A triple crown is cool like a perfect game is or Fernando Rodney setting the ERA record — those are not legit arguments for value though.

      • Jeremy T - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        They’re not arbitrary, just old and easy to calculate.

      • dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:26 PM

        He also hit .260 after the 6th inning. Shouldn’t an MVP be Clutch? Cabrera hit .337.

  3. cmutimmah - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Where would the Angels be without Trout? Missing the playoffs with Pujols on their roster…

    Where would the Tigers have been without Cabrera? Missing the playoffs with Fielder on their roster…

    Guess what, the one that really made the different this year was Cabrera. “Ignoring the other parts of their game” is not the case at all. Trout is only getting the hype from you guys because of WAR which is a subjective stat in terms of what consititutes a ‘replacement’ player. Cabrera’s move to third base removed Brandon Inge’s Mendozian bat from the Tiger lineup, he played third base very adequately, and… oh yeah… he won a triple crown. Where as if Trout was not called up this year, Peter Bourjos would have been the CF, which means the stolen bases would have been similar, he would have hit 5-10 HRs, and batted .265-280. If you look at REAL replacement players on their teams (at least at the start of the season), it’s not even close!

    I respect your opinion, and I’m glad you don’t say WAR in your article… but the rest of the Trout supporters in the world are nuts resting their cases on a subjective stat alone. I just think that a triple crown season is being trashed every time someone says Trout’s was better. Any other year, Trout is MVP, but not this year.

    • jarathen - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Without Trout the Angels were 6-14. You can’t hold a player responsible for the strength of an entire division, of which the Tigers benefited greatly from being the biggest fish in a rainwater pond.

      Cabrera is great, and I don’t begrudge him MVP, but the playoff case, or the “real replacement” case, doesn’t add up.

      • rythestunner - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        A 73-89 record is no better than an 89-73 record if neither of them gets you into the playoffs…unless teams have some sort of secondary goal of being the non-playoff team with the best record.

    • justiniodiddly - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      How original, a Cabrera supporter whining about WAR in an article where WAR isn’t even mentioned. Thank God this will be over today.

      • dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        Speaking of WAR, Ben Zobrist had the highest WAR in 2011. M-V-P! M-V-P!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      Ok so lets look at a non-subjective measure, offense only:

      wRC+
      Cabrera – 166
      Trout – 166

      So they had the same offensive value. The only way you can assume that Cabrera > trout after that is if you don’t care about defense or base running at all.

    • alang3131982 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      you are a dummy.

      • cmutimmah - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        LANDSLIDE…

        As I said all along, the debate was cute, and I respected everyone’s opinions, but Cabby had it in the bag.

        Maybe Trout will get one down the road, but I expect a sophmore slump.

  4. cktai - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    As I have said before, people should stop hiding between meaningless stats and start paying attention to what really matters in baseball.

    I am not interested in “The number of times a player gets on base by putting the ball into play, on the condition that a fielder does not approach the ball in such a way that a play could be made by normal effort divided over the number of plate appearances, minus the times a player is either given a base on balls, hit by the pitcher, hits a ball to the outfield where it is caught with a player on third base who can score following the out, or drops a bunt allowing a player to advance a base, without the pre-consideration of attempting to get base safely himself” or “The number of times a different player manages to score while the player is having an at bat, with the exception of the times that the player hits into a double play, excluding the times that this double play is made on a fly out, and the times that a fielder comes in the range of the ball but fails to make a play that would lead to an out with ordinary effort in the case that there are two outs on the board”.

    I care for true important stuff. Can someone actually get on base and help the team score runs by stealing a base. Does someone play good defense. Trout was a better all round player. Statistical monstrosity that is “Triple Crown” be damned.

    • beelza - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:17 AM

      Brevity equals higher ratings.

  5. beelza - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    This is not an award announcement. This is a Cabrera AL MVP award collection. Simple really.

  6. Carl Hancock - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    I agree Cabrera and Posey will take home the awards.

    You can make an argument for Trout all you want but you’d be a complete idiot to complain if Cabrera wins out over him.

    Both are worthy of the award but the edge is going to Cabrera who has been putting up MVP numbers for years and has never won the award… and oh yea he won the Triple Crown for the first time since 1967.

    As for the NL I am thrilled for Yadier Molina that he is even in the discussion. I fully expect Posey to win but the fact that Yadier is in the mix is a testament to his hardwork and dedication.

    Molina didn’t come into the league a superstar prospect like Posey and Trout. He was always a defensive gem and learned from one of the best (Matheny) but his offense left something to be desired. His defense is what got him a starting gig.

    He’s turned himself into an all around great player by working on his hitting year after year and he’s been repaid for his hard work by becoming not only the best defensive catcher, but one of the best offensive catchers in the game.

    And let’s be clear, his numbers didn’t take a suspect jump out of nowhere like known PED users such as Melky Cabrera. His numbers gradually improved over the course of a few years.

    Molina is and was the true heart and soul of the Cardinal lineup. The Cardinals have and will recover from the loss of Pujols, but Molina would be a much bigger loss to recover from because of everything he brings to the team.

    • gostlcards5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      Very well said, Carl. I agree that Posey will win and probably should win, although I think Yadi is so close in his overall value because his defense is spectacular, and he has turned himself into not much less of an offensive weapon than Posey. Either way, Posey or Molina are good choices…like both guys a lot.

      As far as Braun, I’m not really sure how I feel. Great season, yes, but as far as the PED stink, it seemed kind of fishy to me (I personally believe he did it and got off on a technicality, but maybe I didn’t read everything there was on the topic). The argument can be made that we never should have known (which is true), but the problem is that we do. Again, either way, if not for the pre-season issue, he’s in the discussion as well, and perhaps is the winner.

      • gostlcards5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:48 PM

        What the hell is wrong with me (sorry, I was in a meeting during normal lunch time and I’m all off-kilter)? I totally forgot about McCutcheon. The only reason he won’t win is because the Pirates were out of it about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the season. That guy is freaking fantastic.

  7. Carl Hancock - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Only because people are too stupid to read and comprehend due to having limited attention spans from watching TV all day.

  8. pshanks62 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Did you seriously just say Mike Trout’s offensive numbers were close to Miggy’s…you think Tout was close to a Triple Crown…WOW that’s crazy he had good offensive numbers but Miggy’s season was HISTORIC…the argument I feel is really that Trout is a better defender, and I still don’t buy into this whole WAR stat, isn’t it basically comparing real life statistics to made up ones? How the hell is that legitimate?

    • cktai - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      In what world is “batting average” not made up? It took me 6 lines to describe that stat. It took me 4 to describe RBI.

      Trout wins over Cabrera in stuff that actually happens on the field. Like getting on base (.399 OBP vs .393 OBP) scoring runs (124 runs vs 109 runs) and stealing bases (49 SB vs 4 SB)

      • kalinedrive - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        In what world is getting on base 39.9% of the time significantly better than getting on base 39.3% of the time? Would that be the same world where a walk is as good as a hit, even though it doesn’t allow runners to advance unless forced to do so? The same world in which a single is as good as a double? In other words, bizzaro world?

        Cabrera SLG .606, Trout SLG .564
        Cabrera TB 377, Trout TB 315
        Cabrera Games Played 161, Trout Games Played 139

        In my world, advancing further around the base paths and letting runners on base ahead of you advance further around the bases is more valuable than just getting on base. And the 15 more runs Trout scored are offset by the 14 more times Cabrera knocked himself in (HR) and the 42 more times he batted in other runners besides himself. Unless the goal is just to get on base and not score. And even then, getting on base an extra 0.6% of the time is not really significant.

      • cktai - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        The world of batting average ignores walks all together. How could that possibly represent baseball, a game that actually does have walks?

        Slugging is a bit better than batting average, but what it ignores is the fact that Trout’s stolen bases more than makes up for the fact he often effectively turned his walks into doubles.

        What I wished to show is that all these stats are contrived. You need to look at a combination of them all. Not just three that happen to be bundled in a “Triple Crown”

      • cktai - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        That second paragraph makes no sense. It should say:

        Slugging is a bit better than batting average, but what it ignores is the fact that Trout’s often effectively turned his walks into doubles.

      • dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        Even after you factor in Trouts 45 stolen bases…CABRERA STILL HAD 17 MORE TOTAL BASES…

  9. ebrownwareagle - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    So Batting average RBI’s and HR are all irrelevant now because of a new found Subject stat that can be change at the discrepancy of the pen pusher to favor what they like about a player or lack there of…

    • cktai - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      It is about as irrelevant as runs, stolen bases, on base percentage and defense.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      The latter part of your statement is 100% false btw.

    • justiniodiddly - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      Don’t listen to these people, HR and RBI will always be there for us. If not for HR and RBI, how would we know that Joe Carter was better than Rickey Henderson?

  10. paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    McCutcheon should finish higher than Braun, not because of Braun’s PED thing, but because he was the better player….again, defense and base running matter, and McCutcheon provided a lot more value for both of those while putting up similar offensive contributions.

  11. unlost1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Brauns stats are far better than Buster’s. I understand the taint argument, but that was last year. However Posey won the worls series so they’ll lean his way.

    • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      No, they weren’t. The most important single # is OBP, and Posey’s was 17 pts higher. Overall, they were close once park effects were considered, both had wRC+ of 162, Brauns wOBA was a little higher (.413 to .406)….but Posey’s defensive contributions dwarf Brauns….and for fuck’s sake will people stop acting like the playoffs matter….ballots are due the day after the regular season ends.

      • gostlcards5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:50 PM

        Sorry, PL. I made my below comment before I read your above comment….lol.

      • unlost1 - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        regardless – Braun has more HR’s & SB’s.

    • gostlcards5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      It doesn’t have anything to do with the World Series. The votes are supposed to be cast before that (I believe).

  12. iamjimmyjack - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Mike Trout for me.

  13. mvp43 - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    The fact that Braun won’t get votes because of the PED issue sucks for a couple reasons:

    1- If the system that is set in place worked properly, no one would have ever known about his positive test in the first place. For all we know, Posey could’ve tested positive as well but the story didn’t leak out.

    2- How many people here on this site were convinced that his numbers would drop off because he stopped using the PED’s? The fact is……..his numbers were even better and he did it without Prince Fielder hitting behind him…….. That’s amazing!

  14. richwizl - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    I’ve always despised this award, it makes no sense. Reminds me of the old joke about which body part is most important, brain, heart, stomache, legs or anus. Tell you what, that anus stops working, the rest of you is useless.

    • gostlcards5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      GREAT analogy….

  15. largebill - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    It’s hard to arrange a tie, but both players warrant their season being recognized as MVP quality.

  16. shoehole - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Some of you are saying that Detroit had an easier schedule then LA. Remember, Detroit DID beat the best in the East and the best in the West to get to the series.

  17. groleo45 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Trout’s numbers were “almost as good” as Cabrera’s? I’m sorry, but 83 is not “almost” 139, and 30 is not “almost” 44. You’re talking about 50% better in both categories.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      I’m utterly shocked that trout’s numbers aren’t similar to Cabrera’s in two arbitrary stats you choose. Shocked i tell you!

      • dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        RBI’s and Homeruns are arbitrary now? What the hell have you people done to the game of baseball?!?!

  18. jl9830 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    “The Cardinals Yadier Molina, for his part, is perhaps the best defensive catcher in living memory.”

    I’ve never thought about the comparison before now, but is Molina really a better defensive catcher than Pudge Rodriguez was?

    • mscxvd - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      its definetly close

    • gostlcards5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      I think that’s why he says “perhaps”….

      I watched both guys play, and they are/were both awesome defensive catchers. I do not particularly recall Pudge picking off guys at 1B nearly so often, but certainly that is a function of me watching a heck of a lot more Cardinals games than Rangers/Marlins/Tigers/Yankees/Astros/Nationals games. :D

  19. muskyhunter2542 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Braun got robbed!!!
    Buster snached that shit away from him!!!!

  20. groleo45 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    @churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged

    I didn’t choose them, the author the post did. And since when are home runs and runs batted in arbitrary? Last time I checked the team with the most runs wins the game.

    I’m not trying to take anything away from Trout, but to put up those stat lines and say that Trout’s offensive stats are “almost” as good as Cabrera’s is, well, offensive.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      And since when are home runs and runs batted in arbitrary?

      They are arbitrary because they happen to be two stats that Cabrera leads in, with no mention of stats that Trout leads in. If runs are so important, why didn’t you show runs where Trout leads Cabrera? HRs are great, but what about doubles/triples? I showed in a stat above (wRC+) which gives a specific (aka non-subjective) weight to each type of hit and shows, offensively, Cabrera and Trout were the same.

      Also, here’s another stat courtesy of Dave Cameron*. It’s a context dependent stat, which takes into account each type of hit and how it affected the outcome of the game. So a 3R HR with 2 outs is weighted higher than a solo HR with 0 outs (due to run expectancy of the situation). The stat is cumulatve, so higher is better. Here’s the top 5 of RE24:

      E5 – +55.84 runs
      Trout – +54.27 runs
      Fielder – +50.59 runs
      Cabrera – +47.43 runs
      Hamilton – +44.44 runs

      This is now the second non-WAR stat showing Trout, offensively, is either equal to or better than Cabrera. This doesn’t take into account defense or base running, where Trout laps the field.

      *http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/trout-versus-cabrera-offense-only-context-included/

  21. Jeremy Fox - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Molina is maybe the best defensive catcher in living memory? Yes, he’s awesome. But I’m pretty sure there are people alive today who saw Johnny Bench play…

    • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Yeah, I’m sure there are, I remember watching him play, that still doesn’t affect the veracity of the statement.

  22. scatterbrian - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    “Molina will, as he so often has been over the course of his career, be overlooked and underrated.”

    He’s gonna finish top 5 in MVP voting. How is that overlooked or underrated?

    And while Posey’s not as great or giffable as Molina, he’s still a good catcher….and a much better hitter.

  23. loungefly74 - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    i am very cool with Posey and Miggy winning the awards. i think its the right call. both are well deserved. something has to be said about leading the league in BA, HR, and RBI…its incredible. Posey played in a tough hitter’s park, had the best BA, is great at his position…and heck…a born leader (i know that shouldn’t factor in but it will…)

  24. mscxvd - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Yadi wont win, but in my opinion his value as a defensive catcher is way underated. He is one of the best at throwing runers out and blocking pitches, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that he is amazing at calling pitches. when he is behind the plate pitchers seem to do better. and lets not forget that he stole 12 bases! i mean he is one of the slowest people on the planet, except for maybe dunn. While Posey split some of his playing time at 1B. sure molina’s offensive stats aren’t as good as poseys but if you add them with his defense and the ability to handle pitchers, I believe he is the better choice.

  25. ebrownwareagle - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Just a question. Would we be having this Conversation/Argument if Mike Trout wasn’t a White Kid or if Cabrera was?!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      Is this a joke? Who is bringing up race?

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