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AL MVP Debate: Cabrera or Trout

This is a two-horse race if there ever was one. As the baseball writers cast their American League MVP ballots, the majority of them will go to two players: Miguel Cabrera (DET) or Mike Trout (LAA). Let’s dive into the debate.

If We Go by the Numbers Alone...

As you can see, in nine of the game’s top offensive statistical categories, Cabrera leads the entire league in FIVE of those categories; to include two-thirds of the Triple Crown (1 HR less than Hamilton). Cabrera could be the first player in MLB to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Trout only leads the league in stolen bases. Advantage: CABRERA.

If We Go by the Team Impact Alone...

Cabrera and Trout are the best players on their individual teams this season. As of right now, it looks like both the Angels and Tigers might miss the 2012 playoffs. If that ends up being the case, you can literally throw out the argument about which player helped his team the most. Usually, that argument only works when one player’s team makes the playoffs and the other does not (i.e., Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp in 2011). It also diminishes the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) argument if both players’ teams miss postseason baseball. Advantage: EVEN.

If We Go by the Hype Alone...

Trout has been nothing short of a sensation. Arguably, he is having the best rookie campaign since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 (the year that he won both the MVP and ROY), and the media is having a field day with him. If we go by major sports magazine covers (Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine), it’s Trout-2 and Cabrera-0. Also, Cabrera does not have any highlight reel defensive plays that are played on repeat on sports television. Advantage: TROUT.

Why people will say Trout...

“He’s much better at defense than Cabrera.”

True, but there is an award specifically for defensive excellence (Gold Glove). The MVP award has historically been based on offensive performance with defense and team standings being a side note. Cabrera is seen by many as an “offense only” player. However, Verlander won the MVP last year while only playing every fifth day and having only four at-bats.

“He turned the Angels’ season around.”

True, and without his spark, the Angels could be in a much worse position than they currently are. However, this is not a partial season award, and Trout has been not been very good since August 1st. Also, I think that Pujols becoming Pujols again had a major impact on that team as well (obviously).

“He’s played fewer games.”

True, but he has had enough at-bats this year to qualify for all awards. Furthermore, even if we negate statistics that could be skewed by the number of games played and at-bats (HRs, RBIs, hits, total bases, etc.), Cabrera is still leading with Trout in all of those categories (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, etc.).

“He’s a leadoff hitter; not a middle of the order hitter.”

True, but MVP races do not always conveniently have “apples to apples” comparisons. By that, I mean we do not always see two players from the same position or spot in the batting order vying for the MVP.

Who Should Win: Miguel Cabrera

1. NumbersTo me, it is not even that close. They speak for themselves (see above).

2. ConsistencyCabrera has been a consistent offensive force for the Tigers all season, and his slumps have been very short-lived if not completely unnoticeable. Since the beginning of August, Trout has struggled from the plate, and Cabrera has gotten better.

Who Will Win: Mike Trout

1. MEPUnfortunately for Cabrera, it is as if Trout was crowned this year’s AL MVP before the All Star Game. He took the game by storm and turned around the Angels’ season, but this is not the MEP: the “Most Exciting Player” award. I have heard many people say that Trout will not win the MVP because he is a rookie and he needs to pay his dues. However, I think that Trout is getting even MORE consideration BECAUSE it says “rookie” next to his name. He has become the sexy pick this season. By no means am I saying that Trout is not good or that he does not deserve consideration, but I think it is clear that Cabrera is having a superior season.

2. Voter’s IndifferenceVoters want the chance to vote for someone different. We saw this for several years in the National League when it seemed like voters were tired of voting for Albert Pujols every season. So, any time there was a player that had a flare up season (Ryan Howard and Joey Votto come to mind), they usurped Pujols. When John Kruk was in the MLB Fan Cave shooting an episode of Baseball Tonight, he said that Cabrera will be hurt in the voting because he, “does this every year.” Cabrera’s consistency may hurt him (which is ridiculous).

That is my opinion, but we want to hear what you have to say. If you had a vote for the American League MVP, whom would you cast it for? Tweet to @MLBFanCave and @KyleOKC using the hash tag #ALMVP with your vote.

This is a two-horse race if there ever was one. As the baseball writers cast their American League MVP ballots, the majority of them will go to two players: Miguel Cabrera (DET) or Mike Trout (LAA). Let’s dive into the debate.

If We Go by the Numbers Alone...

As you can see, in nine of the game’s top offensive statistical categories, Cabrera leads the entire league in FIVE of those categories; to include two-thirds of the Triple Crown (1 HR less than Hamilton). Cabrera could be the first player in MLB to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Trout only leads the league in stolen bases. Advantage: CABRERA.

If We Go by the Team Impact Alone...

Cabrera and Trout are the best players on their individual teams this season. As of right now, it looks like both the Angels and Tigers might miss the 2012 playoffs. If that ends up being the case, you can literally throw out the argument about which player helped his team the most. Usually, that argument only works when one player’s team makes the playoffs and the other does not (i.e., Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp in 2011). It also diminishes the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) argument if both players’ teams miss postseason baseball. Advantage: EVEN.

If We Go by the Hype Alone...

Trout has been nothing short of a sensation. Arguably, he is having the best rookie campaign since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 (the year that he won both the MVP and ROY), and the media is having a field day with him. If we go by major sports magazine covers (Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine), it’s Trout-2 and Cabrera-0. Also, Cabrera does not have any highlight reel defensive plays that are played on repeat on sports television. Advantage: TROUT.

Why people will say Trout...

“He’s much better at defense than Cabrera.”

True, but there is an award specifically for defensive excellence (Gold Glove). The MVP award has historically been based on offensive performance with defense and team standings being a side note. Cabrera is seen by many as an “offense only” player. However, Verlander won the MVP last year while only playing every fifth day and having only four at-bats.

“He turned the Angels’ season around.”

True, and without his spark, the Angels could be in a much worse position than they currently are. However, this is not a partial season award, and Trout has been not been very good since August 1st. Also, I think that Pujols becoming Pujols again had a major impact on that team as well (obviously).

“He’s played fewer games.”

True, but he has had enough at-bats this year to qualify for all awards. Furthermore, even if we negate statistics that could be skewed by the number of games played and at-bats (HRs, RBIs, hits, total bases, etc.), Cabrera is still leading with Trout in all of those categories (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, etc.).

“He’s a leadoff hitter; not a middle of the order hitter.”

True, but MVP races do not always conveniently have “apples to apples” comparisons. By that, I mean we do not always see two players from the same position or spot in the batting order vying for the MVP.

Who Should Win: Miguel Cabrera

1. NumbersTo me, it is not even that close. They speak for themselves (see above).

2. ConsistencyCabrera has been a consistent offensive force for the Tigers all season, and his slumps have been very short-lived if not completely unnoticeable. Since the beginning of August, Trout has struggled from the plate, and Cabrera has gotten better.

Who Will Win: Mike Trout

1. MEPUnfortunately for Cabrera, it is as if Trout was crowned this year’s AL MVP before the All Star Game. He took the game by storm and turned around the Angels’ season, but this is not the MEP: the “Most Exciting Player” award. I have heard many people say that Trout will not win the MVP because he is a rookie and he needs to pay his dues. However, I think that Trout is getting even MORE consideration BECAUSE it says “rookie” next to his name. He has become the sexy pick this season. By no means am I saying that Trout is not good or that he does not deserve consideration, but I think it is clear that Cabrera is having a superior season.

2. Voter’s IndifferenceVoters want the chance to vote for someone different. We saw this for several years in the National League when it seemed like voters were tired of voting for Albert Pujols every season. So, any time there was a player that had a flare up season (Ryan Howard and Joey Votto come to mind), they usurped Pujols. When John Kruk was in the MLB Fan Cave shooting an episode of Baseball Tonight, he said that Cabrera will be hurt in the voting because he, “does this every year.” Cabrera’s consistency may hurt him (which is ridiculous).

That is my opinion, but we want to hear what you have to say. If you had a vote for the American League MVP, whom would you cast it for? Tweet to @MLBFanCave and @KyleOKC using the hash tag #ALMVP with your vote.