After writing and posting it, I realized that my Cy Young post was too long, and probably should have been split between the AL & NL. So, that’s what I’m going to do with the MVP post. Today, you get the AL, and then in the next day or two, I’ll cover the NL.
This may be the most difficult call to make among all of the postseason awards. It’s easy enough to figure out which two guys the award should come down to, but deciding between the two is a ridiculous proposition. Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout both had unbelievable seasons. Trout may have had the best season ever by a rookie. And, all Cabrera did was win the first Triple Crown in 45 years. They both had massive impacts on their teams: Trout turned the Angels’ season around when he was called up, and Cabrera’s Triple Crown push at the end of the season was also the push the Tigers needed to get into the postseason.
The most disturbing part about trying to make this call is the fact that these two guys both rank in the top 3-5 in nearly every significant offensive category. The primary difference between the two is that Trout led the league in stolen bases (49), because he hit far more singles, while Cabrera led the league in XBH. And, honestly, I can’t really choose between which of those two is more important – you need both on any good team!
Here’s the breakdown: Cabrera has the edge over Trout in batting, HR, and RBI (obviously), and also has the lead in XBH, OPS, and struck out about 40 times less. Trout has the edge in SB, WAR, and he grounded into far fewer double plays. Trout was also a great fielding center-fielder, leading the league with 23 DRS (defensive runs saved), while committing just 2 errors. Also, Cabrera’s edge in batting avg. is .004, and his RBI edge is what you would expect when one guy’s batting 3rd, and the other is batting leadoff. Do you see my dilemma?
Here’s my final reasoning: Cabrera led his team into the playoffs, batting .337 with 26 HR, and 68 RBI, with a 1.074 OPS after the All-Star break. Trout played more than half his season after the All-Star break (since he was called up after the season began), but faltered a little down the stretch: .312, 18 HR, 43 RBI, .966 OPS. Even though I normally despise using playoff v. no-playoff as a deciding factor for the MVP, I feel it’s nearly unavoidable in this case. This is the point at which their seasons deviate just enough to decide who was more valuable to their team. So, in the end, my vote goes to Miguel Cabrera.