Skip to content

Mike Trout, baseball’s best player, is denied MVP award

Nov 15, 2012, 7:04 PM EDT

Mike Trout Reuters

In handing Miguel Cabrera the American League MVP award, the voters weren’t making a statement that Cabrera’s four additional points of batting average, his 14 homers or even his 56 RBI made him a better player than Mike Trout last season.

Because this isn’t really about who was the better player.

Sportswriters decided long ago that the Most Valuable Player isn’t necessarily the best player. Because the best player is often quite obvious. One doesn’t need any inside knowledge to deduce the best player. In fact, it’s very much in the best interests of the BBWAA to keep the MVP criteria ambiguous and controversial. It’s the debate that keeps the machine going.

Mike Trout was pretty obviously a better overall player than Miguel Cabrera this year. He hit .326/.399/.564 to Cabrera’s .330/.393/.606, while playing in the tougher environment for hitters. He also grounded into 21 fewer double plays. Cabrera was still probably a bit more valuable offensively, but Trout more than made up for that with his defense and baserunning.

So what trumps that…

Cabrera won the Triple Crown.

But he wouldn’t have been any more or less valuable had Jose Bautista remained healthy and hit 50 homers. It’s a really cool feat, but the title adds nothing to his value.

Cabrera’s team made the postseason.

But the Angels had a better record while playing in a better division. Also, for what little it’s worth, the Angels were 81-58 when Trout played and 8-15 when he didn’t.

Cabrera moved to third base for the good of the team.

He never wanted to move off third base in the first place. Trout opened the season in the minors “for the good of the team” and never uttered a peep, even though that decision could have cost him millions in future earnings, the Rookie of the Year award and, as it turns out, the MVP award.

Cabrera was better from Aug. 24 until the end of the season.

Why Aug. 24? Oh, that’s right, Cabrera had a good game that day and Trout had a good one the day before.

Cabrera certainly did have better stats than Trout over the final five weeks. But here’s another truth: Cabrera’s RBIs were the difference in one Tigers victory down the stretch (3 RBI in a 6-4 win over the Twins on Sept. 29). Trout’s RBIs were equal to or greater than the Angels’ margin of victory on Sept. 30 against Texas (solo homer in a 5-4 win), Sept. 9 against Detroit (solo homer in a 3-2 win), Aug. 28 against Boston (two RBI in a 6-5 win) and also in that Aug. 23 game that no one wants to count (two RBI in a 14-13 win).

In my opinion, the best argument for Cabrera as the AL MVP is that he was the league’s second best player and he played in 22 more games than the best player, which has a whole lot of value. It’s hardly his fault, but the fact is that Trout contributed nothing for three weeks in April. Cabrera already had six homers and 16 RBI by the time Trout was called up.

And I’m OK with Cabrera getting the MVP. He’s been one of the game’s best players for a long time, and he hadn’t won one before. He’s not Juan Gonzalez; he’s a legitimately superb hitter and a sure-fire Hall of Famer unless he suddenly falls off a cliff. He wasn’t quite as good as Trout in 2012, but then, Trout’s 2012 campaign trumps that of most MVPs most years.

Latest Posts
  1. Elbow soreness puts Zack Greinke’s next start in doubt

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Zack Greinke AP

    Zack Greinke skipped his usual between-starts bullpen session because of elbow soreness and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly declined to say whether he expected the right-hander to take his next turn in the rotation Thursday against the Padres.

  2. Derek Jeter, Andrew McCutchen do the ice bucket challenge

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT

    Ice Bucket

    In addition to raising awareness of a good cause, Jeter’s challenge raised awareness of CC Sabathia’s actual existence.

  3. A.J. Burnett says he’ll probably retire after this year

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

    AJ Burnett AJ Burnett

    And if he does, he’ll leave $12.75 million on the table.

  4. Curt Schilling reveals that he was diagnosed with mouth cancer, blames smokeless tobacco

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT

    Schilling

    Another star player reminds us of the dangers of smokeless tobacco use.

  5. Clown shoes in Chicago: the Cubs grounds crew couldn’t get the tarp on the field

    Aug 20, 2014, 7:19 AM EDT

    Wrigley Tarp Getty Images

    And the Giants — in a playoff race — aren’t happy that they lost a shortened game as a result.

  6. And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:54 AM EDT

    Bases loaded walk AP

    A bases-loaded walk helped the Tigers win a game. A walkoff plunking gave the Cardinals the win. And the crew in Chicago couldn’t get a tarp on the field. Can anyone around here play this game anymore?

  7. Jacob deGrom to return to Mets’ rotation Saturday

    Aug 19, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    jacob degrom getty Getty Images

    Mets rookie right-hander Jacob deGrom threw all of his pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday in Oakland without experiencing any discomfort in his shoulder and has been cleared to return to the starting rotation Saturday night against the Dodgers.

  8. Nationals rout Diamondbacks for eighth straight win

    Aug 19, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT

    stephen strasburg getty Getty Images

    The Nationals are the hottest team in the majors. Stephen Strasburg yielded just three hits over eight inning of one-run ball and shortstop Ian Desmond went 3-for-4 with four RBI in an 8-1 stomping of the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.

  9. Orioles demote Ubaldo Jimenez to the bullpen

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT

    ubaldo jimenez getty Getty Images

    The Orioles’ four-year, $50 million deal with starter Ubaldo Jimenez is already looking like a disaster. Jimenez registered a 4.83 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over his first 20 outings this season and now MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reports that the right-hander has been demoted to the bullpen for the stretch run.

  10. Tony La Russa denies that Kirk Gibson’s job is safe

    Aug 19, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    kirk gibson getty Getty Images

    USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Tuesday morning that the Diamondbacks “currently plan to bring back” manager Kirk Gibson next season. But the club’s new chief baseball officer — Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa — is now denying that anything has been decided on the Gibson front.

  11. Padres option Jesse Hahn to Double-A as part of designed plan to limit his innings total

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT

    jesse hahn getty Getty Images

    Jesse Hahn has been optioned to the minor leagues as part of a planned-out strategy to limit the rookie’s innings total in 2014.

  12. Yadier Molina hopes to resume swinging this week

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    yadier molina getty Getty Images

    Great news here for the second-place Cardinals. Injured catcher Yadier Molina told Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest on Tuesday afternoon that he is hoping to be cleared to begin swinging a bat on Wednesday or Thursday.

  13. Kris Bryant doubles in return to lineup for AAA Iowa

    Aug 19, 2014, 6:14 PM EDT

    kris bryant getty Getty Images

    Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant sent a scare through the organization on Saturday when he had to leave a game at Triple-A Iowa with pain in his left big toe. But all is well with the budding superstar.

  14. Indians place Ryan Raburn on the disabled list

    Aug 19, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT

    Ryan Raburn AP

    Ryan Raburn’s disappointing season for the Indians now includes a trip to the disabled list with a sore right wrist.

  15. Cardinals place Mark Ellis on the disabled list

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Mark Ellis Cardinals Getty Images

    St. Louis infielder Mark Ellis is headed to the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, which tends to sideline players for more than the minimum 15 days.

  16. Nate McLouth needs season-ending shoulder surgery

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Nate McLouth Nationals Getty Images

    McLouth played just 79 games and hit .173 for the Nationals in the first season of a two-year, $10.75 million deal.

  17. Pirates activate Andrew McCutchen from the disabled list

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT

    Andrew McCutchen AP

    McCutchen was having another MVP-caliber season at the time of the injury, ranking among the NL’s top five in batting average (.311), on-base percentage (.411), slugging percentage (.536), and OPS (.947).

  18. Yoenis Cespedes to the Oakland A’s: “I hope you win it all”

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Yoenis Cespedes AP

    Cespedes said he almost cried when he found out he was traded. But he wishes everyone the best.

  19. HBT Daily: They’ve dropped six straight, but the Pirates may be the Wild Card favorites

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    The silly NL West wild card race may actually favor the team playing the worst baseball right now.

Featured video

Does anyone want to win the NL wild card?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. M. Cuddyer (2947)
  2. R. Castillo (2789)
  3. J. Werth (2259)
  4. A. Garcia (2252)
  5. A. McCutchen (2184)
  1. M. Fiers (2160)
  2. W. Myers (2150)
  3. C. Gonzalez (2131)
  4. K. Bryant (2125)
  5. Y. Molina (2028)