Reporting Jamie Samuelsen
By: Jamie Samuelsen
Now that the Tigers have finished off the AL Central, we can start to focus on the issue that really matters. And by really matters, I mean couldn’t matter less, but still makes for a fun, endless debate.
Yes. I’m talking about the Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout conundrum for the AL MVP. I promise that I won’t tread on any new ground here because honestly, what’s left to say? All of the ground has been tread upon time and time again. This debate has been going on for more than a month and it’s gotten so nasty between the Trout people and the Cabrera people that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are calling for calm. I’ve never quite seen anything like this. And it truly has turned into a culture war. The old school baseball people have Cabrera. The new school, new metric people have Trout. And never the two shall meet.
The debate will not end soon either. The AL MVP won’t be announced until well into November, long after both Trout and Cabrera have played their last game. True, the votes will be counted. But the results will be secret until the announcement is made. In other words, if you’re tired of Cabrera vs. Trout, you might want to get out of the country for a while. At least the actual playoffs will distract baseball fans from the debate for a few weeks.
So let me get a few things off my chest with regard to this pesky little issue.
1) It’s a great debate. The only thing that bugs me about it is the contention by some on both sides that there is no debate, that one of the two is the CLEAR favorite. If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, he’s not a lock. And just because Trout has a WAR over ten, it doesn’t mean that he’s a lock either. Both sides have been far two dismissive of the other side during this argument. The Trout people aren’t ‘nerds’. The Cabrera people don’t have their heads wedged in some deep, dark place. Both candidates have very compelling cases and it’s stupid to dismiss either one.
2) Trout is a much faster player and a much better fielder. This is obvious in his stolen base total, his stolen base percentage, his runs scored and his highlight reel of home run saving catches. He’s one of the most dynamic players I’ve ever seen. He hit a ball off the right field wall in a game at Comerica Park and when I looked back at the base paths, he was already standing on third base. He’s a blur. That said, Cabrera deserves some extra credit on a couple of things. First, he made the switch from first to third willingly when the Tigers signed Prince Fielder. That doesn’t show up in advanced metrics, but it’s a damn valuable act by a franchise player. Most figured it would be a disaster and that Cabrera would be a full-time DH by May 1st. Well, that hasn’t been the case at all. Cabrera might not be anything close to Trout. But he’s been much better than expected. Baseball isn’t graded on a curve, so it’s not going to help him win the MVP. But it bears mentioning. It should also be mentioned that the Tigers 5-9 hitters have really struggled for much of the year. Cabrera’s run total (109) is twenty behind Trout’s astounding 129. But I do wonder how many times Cabrera was left in scoring position thanks to a double play ball off the bat of Delmon Young. At least a couple, right?
3) My most serious point of this post is this one. If there is a single MVP voter out there who lists anyone but Cabrera or Trout in the second position, they should have their vote revoked for good. This is not a political campaign even if it seems like one. And it scares me that some voter will sink one or the other down on the ballot to try to ensure that their guy makes it to the top. Granted, this is just a theory on my part, but we’ve seen such tactics in Heisman voting, Top 25 voting and postseason award voting. Argue all you want about who is better. But please don’t try for a second to suggest that there’s a third dog in this fight. There’s not. Cabrera and Trout should sweep the first and second place votes. Anything else would look awfully fishy (pun somewhat intended).
There you go. Debate settled. Get back to your every day lives. Glad I could be of some service to you.