Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 9/13/12
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If you listen really close you can be reminded for the thousandth time that Mike Trout just turned 21 and gosh darn it, he’s only a rookie. Listen Mike Trout has had a great year. I’ll even go so far as to give him a semi-historical one. Because of that season at such a young age in his first year he is the slam-dunk, no doubt about it, put a bow on it Rookie of the Year for the American League. For that he should be applauded. When you consider the number of players who, forget even D-1 college baseball for a moment, just make minor league rosters, the odds of ever being a rookie of the year in major league baseball are miniscule. Literally tens of thousands of players have enjoyed major league careers at some point that he’s surpassed in crushing fashion after one year on the field.

So while we all get caught up in the performance and excitement he brings to the game, lets make one thing clear: as of today at 2:30 AM ET, September 13th, 2012 while I further procrastinate on studying for my Accounting Exam, it would be CRIMINAL to give him the American League MVP. That’s right, I’m going so far to say the voters of this award should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law if they give Mike Trout an MVP award. If we step back for a minute and really look at the Angels, Mike Trout and the correlation between his and the team’s success, the case just isn’t there.

For a while it was. After all the team got off to a sluggish start and his emergence onto the major league scene seemed to kick start a team that needed a revving up. They got hot in the middle of the season and it appeared for quite some time that they would challenge the Texas Rangers for the AL West crown at best, be a shoe-in for a wild card berth at worst. He solved all their problems while leading the league in average, stolen bases and developed a power surge. Things were gravy and all was well in La-La land.

Then July and August came around and the Angels became mediocre. They were 27-27 over that stretch and are only two games over .500% since the All-Star break. In the meantime the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles passed them and currently sit in great position to win the two wild card berths (if neither wins their division). What happened in that stretch? They stopped getting cream puffs and had 42 games since the start of July against teams in playoff contention. Their record in those games: 18-24. Put against the tough competition the team has fallen off. But that’s not all (or much of any really) on Mike Trout.

Jered Weaver, who was once the AL Cy Young front-runner has had injury issues but has also had his struggles. He’s 1-3 in his last four decisions dating back to August 1st. Zach Greinke who was supposed to be their prized trade acquisition that bolstered a soon-to-be playoff rotation has had flashes of greatness but has been inconsistent since coming over. C.J Wilson has only been 2-2 in that same stretch as Weaver. But these results beg the question: What’s that say about his MVP candidacy?

If the pitching wasn’t enough the Angels have also benefited from a resurgence of Albert Pujols who tonight hit his 30th home run of the year, the first player to ever hit 30 Home Runs in his first 12 seasons, and will surpass 100 RBI shortly. Mark Trumbo has 30 Home Runs and sits 17 RBI short of 100 which he may come up just short of. In a lineup with two 30-HR threats hitting behind him, how much offensive credit are we giving to him? Outside of Trout, five other Angels regulars have over 20 doubles on the season. Only three other American League teams (Rangers, Tigers, Royals) can lay claim to having six regulars with 20+ doubles right now. Mike Trout generates a lot of runs with his base stealing, I won’t deny otherwise. But on a team with seven regulars hitting about .270 or higher, how much of a difference does it make? The Angels as a team have the second highest average in the American League.

With their loss to the A’s tonight the Angels sit eight and a half games behind the Texas Rangers, five and a half behind the A’s for second (who own the first wild card) and three and a half behind Baltimore/New York for the second wild card. The Angels have the seventh best record in the American League. In the ranks of the American League the Angels are….well….average. So who does win the MVP?

For starters you can look at a couple of guys. Josh Hamilton despite all the moaning about inconsistency still leads the league in home runs and RBIs and the Rangers slump in July and eventual recovery can be tied directly (with assistance from Adrian Beltre) to Josh Hamilton’s bounce back. Beltre is the only teammate of Hamilton’s who will hit 30 HR or get to 100 RBI, unless Nelly Cruz gets really hot down the stretch in games the Rangers won’t need to win to make the playoffs because they’ve built up such a large lead.

If you’re not a fan of Josh Hamilton’s candidacy you can take a drive up north to Detroit where Miguel Cabrera sits a few points back of Trout in the batting title race while leading the league in total bases, sitting 2 RBI and 4 HRs behind Hamilton for the league lead in each. While he has his own Albert Pujols with him in Prince Fielder, there’s nobody else close to the production of a Mark Trumbo. In fact Austin Jackson, who is the only other Tiger doing much of anything at the plate, has missed over twenty games on the season. Justin Verlander has had a pretty ace-like season despite an average W/L record, but their #3 starter for most of the season has a losing record and ERA at about 4.60. All the while they sit only one game back in the division and a game and a half behind LA without the rotation depth or lineup depth of LA. Why? Because Miguel Cabrera has continued to pound baseballs with ferocity that makes it easy to see why some call him the best hitter in all of baseball.

While the season may be spectacular for someone of his age, that’s simply not reason enough to give Mike Trout an MVP. It’s impact on an Angels team with a number of players having productive years hasn’t led to anything. They’re in 3rd place in their division and a middle-tier AL team. Go look at Adam Jones for another guy on a team overachieving who has been great. Don’t cheapen the award because of a player’s age. The LA Angels went out and spent huge money in the offseason bringing in Albert Pujols and C.J Wilson and they may not even make the playoffs.

With an expanded wild card format, how much do we overlook team success before holding it against a player? Trout through 11 September games is 13-44 with 2 HRs and 3 RBI. For a team desperately fighting for its playoff life every night, isn’t that coming up a little short?

In the future he may win an MVP. Maybe even multiple if the stars align. But do the right thing baseball voters.

Recognize there’s already an award for someone of his experience. Don’t hand out an MVP for a player whose team is seventh best in their league and is in the process of getting swept possibly in their biggest series of the year while his numbers decline down the stretch.

That’s not Most Valuable, that’s…..average.


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