The American League MVP race is shaping out to be a quite a race. Josh Hamilton has faded, but Mike Trout is here to stay. Yet, he will be challenged by Miguel Cabrera whose caught fire over the past month or so.
Here’s a case for both Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera:
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
You can also pencil him in for the following awards as well: Rookie of the Year and possibly a Gold Glover. Yes, that’s how good he’s been. Trout, 21, has the rare combination of speed and power. He leads baseball with 36 stolen bases. Plus, he’s smacked 21 home runs. And yes, 30 home runs and 50 stolen bases isn’t out of the question.
More impressively, he leads the majors in runs scored (91), the American League in batting average (.341), and the big one, WAR (6.9). Ask yourself this question— where would the Angels be without him? Since he arrived, the Angels have posted a 53-41 record. Upon his arrival, Pujols took off, Trumbo took off, and they looked to be on their marry way.
Right now, they aren’t looking so great as they stand eight games back of the first place Rangers. That record is partially due to a sluggish 4-9 start to August. In those 13 games, Trout has a triple slash of just .269/.365/.481. So you can clearly see his value. If he struggles, the Angels struggle.
He’s a rookie. He’s going to go through rough patches. My point is, his August struggles shouldn’t takeaway from his overall numbers. In fact, they should make his case even more so. His case being that the Angels aren’t all that good without him flourishing.
To make a long story short, he’s the complete package. Speed, power, consistency, defense, you name it. His UZR (5.8) sits in the upper class of the A.L, and he’s made countless game saving plays. Plays that will be shown on highlight reels for years to come.
To cap it off, he’s been the most valuable player in baseball. Per Fangraphs, he has been worth nearly $32 million this season. Obviously, he’s make much less being a rookie, but if you had to put a price on his 2012 MVP campaign, that would be the best projection.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
People should refer me to Jim Leyland for putting Cabrera second to Trout. Never mind that. Anyway, what were we talking about here? Oh, yes, Miguel Cabrera.
Cabrera wasn’t an MVP candidate for the first few months of the season. Hard to believe, right? Sure, he finished each month of the season with an above .300 batting average (Except for March/April), but his power numbers were nothing but average. In July and August, though, fly balls have started to result in home runs. In his past 37 games (dating back to July 1st), he boasts a sparkly .343 batting average to go along with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs. His success means one thing— the Tigers are winning. That Indeed, as they are 23-14 since July 1st, and are bound to give the first place White Sox a run for their money in the A.L Central.
A little thumb rule—one way or another, Cabrera’s going to find a way to hit 30 long balls and drive in 100. He’s second in the league in batting average (.326), first in RBI’s (101), sixth in home runs (29), and third in WAR (4.9). It really doesn’t get much better than that. While his defense remains a liability, that’s not going to effect his chances much, if at all.
The deciding factor in a Trout, Cabrera duel for the trophy, is going to be the records of their respective teams. Long story short, whichever player’s team makes it to the postseason will should take home the hardware. History suggests the same thing.
To put things into perspective, very, very, few MVP winners don’t play October baseball. The voters like winners, plain and simple. If neither of the Angels or Tigers make it to the postseason, it’s anybody’s best guess as to who will win the honor.
Fortunately, we still have two months of baseball left. New contenders could emerge, while the favorites could fall. One thing is for sure though, it will be an exciting finish.
Trout leads the Angels to a wildcard birth with a big September, and edges out Cabrera and Hamilton for the MVP award.