Yes, Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP and deservedly so. But that doesn’t mean that Mike Trout didn’t also deserve to win the award. This year’s award is more important than who came in first. This year marks the beginning of a war. A war on WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, a new sabermetric statistic that is supposed to more thoroughly express a player’s all around impact on the game by including base running and defensive abilities in addition to the traditional Triple Crown categories, of which Cabrera led all three.
Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, something that had not been done since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. In the eyes of the “old-school” baseball men, Cabrera should have run away with the award. But Mike Trout, the incredible rookie from the LA Angels had a 10.7 WAR making him only the second player since 1969 to have a WAR greater than 10 and not win the MVP. In the eyes of the “new-school” stat geeks, Mike Trout should have ran away with the award as well.
Although much of the younger generation of baseball fans believe Trout should have won because of his highlight plays in centerfield and the constant threat he posed on the base paths, I cannot agree more with the Miguel Cabrera winning the MVP. Anytime a player does something that hasn’t been done in 45 years, he deserves to be recognized for their accomplishments. No, Cabrera cannot play the field like Trout. And no, he will never steal more than 5 bases in a season. But Cabrera carried his club. Without Cabrera, the Tigers who ended up making it all the way to the World Series (something irrelevant to voters as the votes are counted before the playoffs begin) would not have even made it to the playoffs. Look at when Cabrera was his best; August and September as his team battled back to catch the White Sox. Cabrera hit 19 of his 44 home runs and 54 of his 139 RBI in August or later. Cabrera led his team to the division title and then carried the Tigers through the playoffs all the way to the World Series (again, this has no bearing on the award), while Trout cannot claim to have led his team even to the playoffs.
via tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mike-trout?before=1344658651)
With that being said, Mike Trout had probably the best rookie season of all time and did so after missing nearly a full month of the season. Trout came up at the right time to use all his skills to his benefit though. He is starting his career in a time where the journalists voting on awards are really looking at defense and base running closer than they ever have in the past. WAR is becoming one of the most widely used statistics in the MLB along with home runs, RBI, and batting average for hitters and ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts for pitchers. Trout is the prototypical “5-tool” player. He is a player who will have success in the league for years. Trout will routinely show up on highlight shows for his diving catches, robbing home runs, stealing bases and making it look easy to leg out a triple. Trout will have plenty of chances to win an MVP. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he won multiple MVPs over the course of his career.
But this year the MVP belonged to Miguel Cabrera. Quite convincingly I might add, taking 22 of the 28 first place votes. Miguel Cabrera may have won this battle, but the war will rage on. And sabermetrics will rule the future of the game.