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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. libertynchurch - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    @ebrown. Of course this is part of the consideration. Baseball needs a Poster Boy, and it aint Miggy. Sorry, thats just the way it is.

  2. ebrownwareagle - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM


    At Least your honest! Respect!

  3. btwicey - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Not giving it to Trout based on “well he will eventually win plenty” means that the MVP award has ZERO credibility whatsoever. If it were an offensive award then miggy wins hands down , it’s not – Trout is so far superior defensively while miggy is a liability in the corner so personally I don’t see how Trout isn’t more valuable overall.

  4. libertynchurch - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    The MVP is a subjective award, just like the HOF. Thats why there is a voting mechanism in place. The impact of a players actions on the image of baseball is a very important criteria that has and will continue to keep some very statistics-worthy players out of the HOF. This criteria should also be extended to MVP voting. Its really simple. I want my grandkids to be like Mike Trout. Not Miggy, not Barry, not Pete..

    Mike is the closest to a young Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle that I have ever seen. He is, and will be, a truly Most Valuable Player.

    About the race issue: FYI, I am an African-American with children by a Dominican wife, and we speak English and Spanish.

  5. ebrownwareagle - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:21 PM


    No offense. But I want my kids to be the BEST THEM, not someone else. Like their off field antics or not and some on field. A HOF’er is just that, aHoF’er! 1st or 15th ballot. Your a HOF’er. As for Bonds. In this Generation = greatest to ever play the game. B4 the PED argument start; 4 MVP’s before he was ever accused. Explain those. I’m sure after its all said and done these new baseball stat geeks can conjure up enuff stats both ways to favor their candidate of choice.

  6. lionsplayoffs - Nov 15, 2012 at 6:45 PM


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