Point/Counterpoint: Who should win American League MVP?
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 23:10
Mike: Mike Trout should win the American League Most Valuable Player award this year, and join Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki as the only players to ever win the award as a rookie. The 21-year-old centerfielder is having a phenomenal season for the Los Angeles Angels, hitting .324 with 30 home runs and 83 runs batted in as of October 3. While he may not win the Triple Crown like Miguel Cabrera, he’s played incredible defense, unlike Miggy. He’s also torn it up on the basepaths with 44 stolen bases leaving him as the definitive MVP.
Nick: While Mike Trout has had an unbelievable year, especially as a rookie, Miguel Cabrera is closing in on the Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been done since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Cabrera leads the AL with a .331 batting average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs. Trout doesn’t even lead his own team in those three categories. In addition, Miggy will be leading his team into the post-season, somewhere the Angels are not headed this year. Without him there’s no way Detroit gets there, making Miguel Cabrera the undoubted MVP.
Mike: What Miguel Cabrera has done this season is indeed impressive. However, a Triple Crown should not be an automatic equivalent to an MVP award. When you talk about the word “valuable,” what Trout has done for the Angels cannot be undermined. The team began the season with a woeful record of 6-14. Since Trout was called up on April 28, they have posted the best record in baseball (83-58).
Nick: Trout is not the sole reason for the turnaround. Albert Pujols struggled greatly at the start of the year but turned it around, and the Angels also moved Mark Trumbo to the outfield in April to give him more playing time. Both Pujols and Trumbo have as many or more home runs than Trout and both have more RBI. Many people are eager to give the award to Trout because he is a rookie and has been the more exciting player, making highlight reel plays and gravity-defying catches. However, Cabrera has put up better numbers all year and has led his team to the playoffs, which is something Trout cannot say.
Mike: A major reason why Cabrera has better numbers than Trout might be that Trout has played one less month compared to Cabrera. Despite that, Trout still leads the league in runs scored with 129 and stolen bases with 49. He also trails Cabrera by only .007 in batting averages heading into the final game of the season. Furthermore, Trout is the league leader in RBI by a lead-off hitter as well. If he had batted third in the lineup all season, he could have easily driven in more than 83 runs.
Nick: The MVP is not about what a player could have done, it is about what a player has done. While, Trout may have been able to accumulate more RBI had he batted third, no one will ever know for sure. What we do know is that Cabrera has 14 more home runs and 56 more RBI than Trout. The month that Trout missed while in the minors would not make up for this discrepancy.
Mike: Then let’s tap into the sabermetrics. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Trout leads the league in Wins Above Replacement with 10.7 (3.8 higher than Cabrera), Most Defensive Runs Saved with 31 (Cabrera has -4) and Win Probability Added with 5.28 (Cabrera has 4.85). This indicates that Trout is a more complete and more valuable player.
Nick: Trout may have the advantage on defense and on the base paths but Cabrera is a better offensive player and is more important to his team. Although they are vying for the same award, these are two different players. Trout is the one getting on base while Cabrera is the one driving in those players who get on base. At the end of the day, you have to decide which is more important, the player who crosses home plate or the player who drives him in.