This is not a pro-Mike Trout or an anti-Miguel Cabrera piece. Both of them are fabulous players that deserve any accolades that come their way following the 2012 MLB season. Instead, this is a piece on why winning the Triple Crown shouldn’t automatically mean an MVP award for Cabrera.
For the sake of length and not boring you, I don’t go into the gory details. Here are the basics of my gripe against the “Triple Crown = MVP” arguments.
-To win the Triple Crown, Cabrera would lead the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average. Runs batted in is a stupid statistic, and the fact that a player had more of them than anyone else, should not be a means for determining a player’s value. In order to have an RBI, you need to have R’s to BI (runs to bat in, in case that went over anyone’s head). Moral of the story, RBIs should be wiped from the face of any MVP discussion.
There’s more to offense than home runs, batting average and RBIs
-The Triple Crown cannot be the be-all and end-all of MVP discussions. The Triple Crown takes into account three offensive statistics, one of which is stupid (see the above section). According to FanGraphs, Trout has stolen 42 more bases, scored from second on a single five more times, and has scored 45 percent of the times he’s been on base, versus 28 percent for Cabrera. While Cabrera has more home runs and a better batting average, Trout ultimately produces more runs, which is ultimately where offensive value should lie.
What if Cabrera doesn’t win the Triple Crown?
-This isn’t really an argument so much as it is an annoyance. The Triple Crown seems to be where people draw the line in the argument between the two players. People say, “If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, he is hands down the MVP.” Well what if he doesn’t? What if Josh Hamilton hits more home runs? Does that mean Cabrera is suddenly less valuable? No, it obviously doesn’t, but the fact remains that there isn’t a caveat for Trout. His value is clear, Cabrera having more value than Trout seems to hinge on whether he can win the Triple Crown. If Cabrera is a better baseball player than Trout, then he is a better baseball player than Trout. Whether he completes the Triple Crown should not determine his status as the American League’s Most Valuable Player.
Side note: It’s a good thing Jeremy Barfield weighed in
-Barfield (@Baseclogger) is a prospect in the Oakland Athletics’ organization, and gave his take on the MVP race via Twitter.
“Yes Trout is a phenomenal defender. Trust me I know. He robbed me plenty of times in MiLB, but that's what Gold Gloves are for!”
Defense should play a role in MVP decisions. It’s tough to do because defense is nearly impossible to measure. Barfield’s argument is flawed though because just like Gold Gloves go to the best defenders, Silver Sluggers go to the best offensive players, so to keep it strictly offensive when it comes to MVP talk seems silly.