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. Manny Banuelos expected to make MLB debut Thursday

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    banuelos getty Getty Images

    Banuelos has rebuilt some of his early-career hype this summer with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, Georgia, posting 2.29 ERA and 1.22 WHIP across 82 2/3 innings (15 starts).

  2. Video: Dee Gordon hit a three-run inside-the-parker

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:26 PM EDT

    dee gordon getty Getty Images

    Watch as Dee Gordon belts a ball into the right-center field gap and turns on the jets …

  3. Padres recall Jedd Gyorko from AAA El Paso

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:41 PM EDT

    Jedd Gyorko AP

    Gyorko was optioned to the minors on June 10 after batting .210/.282/.311 over his first 131 plate appearances …

  4. Matt Cain to make 2015 debut on Thursday

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT

    Matt Cain AP

    Tim Lincecum will be placed on the disabled list with a forearm bruise to open a rotation spot.

  5. The Chicago Sun-Times wants Ozzie Guillen to manage the White Sox again

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    ozzie_guillen_090817

    Let us use this column to talk a bit about how rumors got started back in the day and how they get started now.

  6. Sonny Gray scratched due to illness

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Sonny Gray Sonny Gray

    Chris Bassitt will start in his place.

  7. Daniel Murphy returns from disabled list, Mets send Dilson Herrera back to minors

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:31 PM EDT

    Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda AP

    No one is quite sure when All-Star third baseman David Wright will be back.

  8. The lineup card for A-Rod’s 3,000th hit game is up to $810 at MLB Auctions

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

    Not that anyone really wants you to know it’s up for bid.

  9. Eugene, Oregon’s Historic Civic Stadium burns to the ground

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Eugene Emeralds

    The old park housed the Eugene Emeralds until 2009

  10. Huston Street says he’d retire if he was used like a 1970s-style fireman

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:26 AM EDT

    huston street

    I’d like to tell you a story about bullpen history and a young man named Tony La Russa.

  11. Brian Dozier is the best second baseman in baseball

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    Brian Dozier Twins Getty Images

    The majority of the baseball-watching world hasn’t seemed to notice yet.

  12. Mike Trout was unreal last night

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.35.42 AM

    And Chris Young was not too pleased about it.

  13. Video: The shocking truth behind the Royals All-Star voting success

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:51 AM EDT

    royals logo Getty Images

    It goes far, far deeper than you ever could’ve imagined.

  14. CC Sabathia looks like a reliever

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    sabathia getty Getty Images

    One he gets past 45 pitches he turns every opposing hitter into Lou Gehrig.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. S. Matz (3925)
  2. B. Harper (3757)
  3. H. Ramirez (3595)
  4. J. Hamilton (3526)
  5. G. Stanton (3236)
  1. M. Moore (2856)
  2. Y. Puig (2796)
  3. F. Freeman (2478)
  4. J. Ellsbury (2467)
  5. M. Cain (2407)