For the second consecutive year there is a healthy debate regarding the American League MVP race. For the second consecutive season the debate involves a Detroit Tiger.
Last year, we debated whether a pitcher (Justin Verlander) was worthy of winning the honor, despite pitching every fifth game. In the end, voters realized just how valuable Verlander was and voted him MVP.
This year, we are debating whose stats are more valuable between Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and L.A.’s Mike Trout, who is a guarantee for Rookie of the Year.
Cabrera just won baseball’s triple crown for the first time in 45 years. He finished the season batting .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.
Trout was second in the league in hitting at .326. He hit 30 home runs and drove in 83, but he stole 49 bases and scored 129 runs. Defensively, he was a wizard in centerfield.
Because of his ability on the base paths and defensive prowess, many have given him the nod to win the MVP title. Throw in the sabermetric WAR and the MVP is a done deal for many.
But to me, this award is for the “most valuable” and not the best all around player.
The Angels were picked to either win the AL West or make the postseason as a wild card this year. That was before Trout was on the roster (did make his debut until lat April). Well, the Angels missed the playoffs… with Trout.
While many attribute the Angels turnaround following a poor April to Trout, I think that also coincides with the improved play of Albert Pujols, who started horribly after switching leagues.
The Tigers were picked to win the AL Central, considered the worst of all the divisions. They did, just barely. Now imagine taking away the contributions of Cabrera and tell me where the Tigers would have finished?
This MVP race is being labeled the “old” sportswriters vs. the “new” sportswriters. The “new” guys being the writers version of Moneyball statistical wizards.
Well, here are some stats that only confirms my belief Cabrera is the American League MVP.
While both teams were in a pennant race, it was Cabrera that carried his team.
Cabrera batted .357 in Aug. and .330 in Sept./Oct. His OPS in Aug. was 1.092 and in Sept./Oct 1.083. In the final two months, Trout batted .284 and .283. His OPS was .866 and .897.
Trout’s batting average, while still stellar, dropped from .341 to .311 from first to second half. Cabrera’s increased from .324 to .336.
In the crunch late in the game (innings 7-9), Cabrera hit .326 with 16 home runs, 41 RBIs, 56 hits and had an OPS of 1.060. Trout hit .259 with eight home runs, 18 RBIs, 37 hits and an OPS of .840.
Trout has had an incredible year. There is no denying that. That is usually the case for those in the MVP conversation.
But when it’s all said and done, Cabrera was just more valuable to his team.
The ballots are in and the announcement will come in mid-November. The name announced should be Miguel Cabrera.