Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/18/14

You won’t get Mike Trout to say he should win the Most Valuable Player award this year because his Wins Above Replacement total is higher than another player. But if you listen closely to him describing his game, you will hear the basic constructs for the argument that can be made in his favor. It’s a simple one. Ask Mike Trout about the MVP award, as I did before Tuesday night’s game against the Athletics, and he shrugs: “It would be nice to have an MVP, but it’s just the way people look at it. For me, I take pride in my defense and baserunning, just trying to put pressure on their defense, either running that extra base or trying to cut down that ball in the gap.” By baserunning runs above average — a stat that includes stolen bases but also measures a player’s ability to take the extra base — Trout is fourth in the league this season. He’s one of four players in the top thirty in BsR that pairs that speed with real power, too. It becomes a refrain. Offense is great, baserunning is big for the Angels’ outfielder, “but defense is even bigger.” Mike Trout is the fourth-best left fielder by UZR/150. Even with the numbers not liking his defense in as much this season, he adds value with his glove. For a player that keeps the balls from the home runs he’s stolen, outfield defense is obviously important to him. Maybe the bad numbers in center are just a one-year blip — he doesn’t prepare any differently (“Just take some reps in left, some reps in center”) and it’s the position that he plays in his heart. “You get to run the outfield, you get priority over everybody,” he says, “center field is different… I like it more.” His work there last season was so superlative that he’s still the fifth-best qualified defensive center fielder in baseball since the start of 2012. When Mike Trout gets in trouble, he gets a little pull happy. But even though pulling the ball can lead to more power, he’s not going to bite. “No, I’m not trying to change my approach, I’m going to stay up the middle.” Trout is fourth in baseball in combined pull plus opposite field percentage. Only Chris Davis has hit more home runs to center field (15 to his 14), which may not be surprising given Trout’s home runs the last two nights. Trout’s power doesn’t suffer much overall anyway — he’s got the 11th-best isolated power in the game this season — but going to all fields is how he does business. That sort of approach (“Just trying to get line drives”) leads to a great batting average on balls in play if you follow the Joey Votto Theory of Baseball. So Mike Trout leads baseball, and second place Votto, with a .384 BABIP since the beginning of last season. He’s second in baseball in BABIP this year. That, along with the third-best walk rate in baseball this season, gives Trout the second-best on-base percentage in the game. If you ask the player about the WAR or the MVP, you won’t get too far. But his philosophy about the game is clear: “I just go out there and take pride in my game and have some fun, do everything I can to help the team win.” It just so happens that when you take the sum of all those different parts, that sum looks like the most impressive in the game.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Max Scherzer thanks Tigers with full page newspaper ad

Ray Lewis: Patriots should have asterisk for cheating

Report: Cavs players believed team lacked depth

Richard Sherman calls out Kraft, Goodell over their friendship

Brandon Jennings to miss 6-9 months with Achilles injury

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Josh Gordon tests positive for alcohol

Report: Yankees reject A-Rod's request for apology meeting

Jim Harbaugh has landed three recruits in 24 hours

Report: NFL tried to catch Patriots in the act

John Harbaugh: Bill Belichick is best coach of this century

Van Gundy rips Bulls management about Thibs

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Sherman, Peterson hug it out at Pro Bowl

WATCH: Chris Berman is not happy at the Pro Bowl

WATCH: Hassan Whiteside blocks five shots in 7 minutes

Duke unveils 'K' hats after Coach K's 1,000th victory

Irina Shayk dumped Ronaldo over cheating rumors?

Mike Napoli almost retired because of sleep apnea

WATCH: 'Saturday Night Live' takes on Deflategate

Should Tom Izzo be worried about his Spartans?

Five potentially fatal flaws for Seahawks in the Super Bowl

WATCH: Urban, OSU students send message to Mark May

The five best Super Bowl matchups ever

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Chris Berman isn't happy at the Pro Bowl

Brandon Jennings out 6-9 months

Josh Gordon tests positive for alcohol

Report: A-Rod's apology meeting request gets rejected

Harbaugh rapidly landing recruits

WATCH: 'SNL' spoofs Deflategate

NFL tried to catch Pats in act?

Bill Nye: Belichick didn't make sense

Is it time for Tom Izzo to worry?

Jennings suffers horrific injury

Seahawks GM: I love Lynch's act

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.