Miller: Trout has sparks, stats to win MVP
Miller: Trout has sparks, stats to win MVP
ANAHEIM – He could be on the verge of the historic and, because of that, Miguel Cabrera should receive a real crown if he does in fact get the Triple Crown.
That's the argument, right, that there's no way a player who writes himself into baseball's record books can be denied the MVP award?
Well, why wait to see if Cabrera makes history when the real MVP — Mike Trout — already has made it? Repeatedly?
Cabrera could become the first Triple Crown winner since 1967. Fantastic. Well done, Miggy.
Trout is the first rookie with at least 25 homers and 45 steals since ... since ... since ... ah, since only the invention of baseball. That's right. Never been done before.
Trout also is the youngest player with as many as 40 stolen bases ... since 1907. Willie Mays is the only center fielder who can match Trout for a single season in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, homers and steals ... since 1901.
You want your MVP to do something historic? He's already done it.
In less than two weeks, 28 sports writers will cast their ballots for American League MVP. Some will select Cabrera. The others will get it right.
I do have a vote. This season, unfortunately, it's for AL Manager of the Year. Hey, maybe I'll vote for Trout, too, just to make my point.
As great as Cabrera has been for the Tigers, he is wholly one-dimensional compared to Trout, who has changed games with the power and precision of his bat, with his legs and with his defense. Cabrera is an offensive force; Trout is a force, period.
Opponents are aware of Cabrera every time he steps into the batter's box. They're aware of Trout every time he steps onto the field. There's a significant distinction between the two.
This wouldn't be the first time a player won the Triple Crown but wasn't named MVP. It wouldn't even be the second or third. It would be the fifth time. So, Cabrera backers, if you're looking for precedent, look elsewhere.
One of the arguments against Trout is that he didn't join the Angels until April 28, missing the team's first 20 games.
But that absence actually makes his case even stronger. The Angels were 6-14 before Trout arrived. They entered Thursday 21 games above .500 since.
If you're searching for a definition of an individual player's value, is there any better place to start than his team's win-loss record?
When the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson was named MVP in 1988, he wasn't the National League's best player statistically. He was, however, clearly the NL's brightest spark. This summer, Trout has provided the sparks and the stats.
Speaking of what he has meant to the Angels in the standings, Trout's 9.4 Wins Above Replacement figure not only is the best in baseball, it's nearly two full victories ahead of second-place Ryan Braun.
Cabrera entered Thursday with a WAR of 6.8, which was sixth in baseball and, just for the record, worse than his mark (7.3) last season.
The Tigers have been openly campaigning for Cabrera, which might be a sign they realize just how unlikely it is that they'll make the playoffs. Might as well try to win something, right?
Justin Verlander, the AL's reigning MVP, has taken to wearing a T-shirt that reads "Keep the MVP in The D."
Manager Jim Leyland recently said "it would blow my mind" if Cabrera doesn't win the award. There are Tigers fans who, based on the team's performance, will tell you Leyland's mind already is blown.
The oddest facet of this debate is that the two players involved come from teams that have staggeringly underachieved. In April, everyone had the Angels and Tigers advancing to the postseason. Right now, neither is in position to do so.
We've learned in recent years that winning games isn't necessary for Cy Young Award consideration. This season has reminded us that team success doesn't always carry weight when it comes to MVP, either.
The Trout-Cabrera race is so tight that it could be decided in these final dozen games. Trout has been fading in recent weeks, his hands perhaps tiring, his grip loosening. But the history he has made already is written into forever.
And no one can take that away, not even a king with a three-tiered crown.
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