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. Troy Tulowitzki’s greatness is not a Coors Field creation

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    troy tulowitzki getty Getty Images

    Coors Field is powerful, but Tulowitzki is great anywhere.

  2. The Nationals are “making progress” on acquiring Jonathan Papelbon

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT

    Jonathan Papelbon Getty Images

    He would be a nice addition to the Nats’ pen, but a costly one given his $13 million vesting option.

  3. Diamondbacks’ No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson suffers concussion, gets 14 stitches after beaning

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    150608_DansbySwanson Getty Images

    Swanson was scheduled to join a minor-league team later this week after signing for $6.5 million.

  4. Mark Teixeira thrown out at plate, barks at his third base coach and throws trash can

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:08 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.07.47 AM

    He had a right to be angry, but maybe he overdid it a bit?

  5. Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman ready to rejoin Nationals

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    Jayson Werth AP

    Washington is getting healthier, but still not quite healthy.

  6. The Dodgers are discussing Alex Guerrero in trades

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    Alex Guerrero Getty Images

    Dealing him — along with the rumors that they’d consider dealing Yasiel Puig — would continue a trend that Andrew Friedman began when he took over.

  7. The Giants are making a push for Cole Hamels now? That doesn’t make a ton of sense.

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:19 AM EDT

    hamelsgra Getty Images

    Or they’re making a push to make the Dodgers’ life complicated. Either way.

  8. Did the Rockies do Troy Tulowitzki dirty?

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Troy Tulowitzki Troy Tulowitzki

    The trade happened just after the game. Did Rockies ownership consult Tulowitzki on it, as they said they would?

  9. Why in the heck weren’t the Mets all over that Tulowitzki action?

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    CORRECTION Mets Sale Baseball

    They could’ve topped what Toronto gave Colorado for Troy Tulowitzki. Heck, most teams could’ve. Why didn’t they?

  10. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:23 AM EDT

    Kris Bryant

    Kris Bryant walked the Rockies off and then the Rockies sent Troy Tulowitzki off.

  11. Report: Rockies trade Troy Tulowitzki to Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and prospects

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:34 AM EDT

    tulowitzki getty Getty Images

    The Blue Jays have reportedly pulled off a stunner, acquiring Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies.

  12. Report: The Dodgers would move Yasiel Puig “in the right deal”

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT

    Yasiel Puig AP

    We know that the Dodgers are likely to add a pitcher or two before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but could they also deal Yasiel Puig in the process?

  13. Report: The Nationals are “hottest” on Padres closer Craig Kimbrel

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:50 PM EDT

    Craig Kimbrel Getty Images

    The Nationals were reportedly looking at a reunion with Tyler Clippard before the Athletics traded him to the Mets tonight, but there’s a chance they could do something a lot bigger to strengthen the back-end of their bullpen.

  14. Alex Rodriguez celebrates 40th birthday with a home run

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:27 PM EDT

    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 27:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Brian McCann #34 of the New York Yankees after hitting a solo home run against the Texas Rangers in the top of the sixth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 27, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez rang in his 40th birthday tonight by doing exactly what he’s been doing for much of the past 20 years.

  15. Video: Nick Markakis receives standing ovation in his return to Baltimore

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 27: Nick Markakis #22 of the Atlanta Braves acknowledges the crowd before his at bat in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Markakis played his first nine seasons in the majors with the Orioles before signing a four-year, $44 million contract with the Braves last December.

  16. Report: The Astros are “making a big push” for Cole Hamels

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:22 PM EDT

    CHICAGO, IL - JULY 25:  on July 25, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no hitter. The Philliess won 5-0. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Getty Images

    The Astros acquired Scott Kazmir from the Athletics last week, but they are still thinking big as they make a push for the postseason.

  17. Shawn Tolleson avoids injury after collision with Keone Kela during batting practice

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT

    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 07: Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the ninth inning during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 7, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Texas Rangers 4-2.  (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Tolleson is available for tonight’s game against the Yankees.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. A. Rodriguez (4429)
  2. J. Cueto (3828)
  3. K. Schwarber (3806)
  4. M. Trout (3278)
  5. C. Hamels (3249)
  1. M. Conforto (3172)
  2. S. Kazmir (3109)
  3. J. Upton (3060)
  4. D. Price (3037)
  5. G. Stanton (2796)