Press of Atlantic City: Decision 2012

Decision 2012

Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera AL MVP debate

While the nation prepares to decide the next president, baseball fans engage in a more hotly contested debate: Who deserves the American League MVP -- Miguel Cabrera or Millville native Mike Trout. Watch our debate above and read opposing views below. And be sure to let us know what you think by leaving a Facebook comment or Twitter post with #TeamTrout or #TeamCabrera hashtags.

Mike Trout: Millville rookie did things no one else has

Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown and made the playoffs. He’s an easy choice for American League Most Valuable Player over Millville’s Mike Trout, right?


Ask yourself two questions: First, are the statistical criteria for MVP limited to home runs, RBIs and batting average?

And second, did the Detroit Tigers make the playoffs over the Los Angeles Angels because they were a better team?

The answer to both those questions is no.

And once you look deeper, nearly every other edge goes to Trout.

To automatically give Cabrera the MVP award based on the Triple Crown — leading the AL in homers, RBIs and batting average — is to ignore two of Trout’s biggest strengths — base-running and defense. That’s simply unacceptable.

Trout led the majors in steals (49) and runs (129) and was a human highlight reel in the outfield.

While Trout’s Triple Crown numbers — .326 average, 30 homers, 83 RBIs — are strong, Cabrera stole just four bases and is an average defensive third baseman at best.

When it comes to team success, the Tigers’ division title and playoff appearance should give Cabrera an edge over someone on, say, the Cleveland Indians.

It should not give him an edge over Trout, whose team won more games than Detroit in a tougher division.

To simply say, “The Tigers made the playoffs and the Angels did not, and that’s all that matters” is ignorant. That’s all that matters toward winning the World Series, and if the Tigers do that, then nobody should discredit them for playing in a weak division.

But making the playoffs shouldn’t be all that matters when deciding which single player was most valuable to his team. It’s lazy to ignore the fact that the Angels actually were a better team in the regular season.

Trout’s Angels won 89 games, one more than Detroit. But they played in the competitive AL West and finished behind the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. The Tigers’ 88 wins would have put them in fourth place in the AL West.

Even those 88 wins were inflated: Detroit played a huge portion of its games against the bottom-feeding Indians, Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins, each of whom lost at least 90 games. No team in the Angels’ division lost even 87 games.

When it comes impact on the team’s success, Trout actually should have the clear edge. While it’s difficult to say how the Tigers would have done without Cabrera, we know exactly how the Angels were without Trout because he spent the first 20 games of the season in the minors. L.A. went 6-14 (.300) without him, compared to 83-59 (.585) after calling him up.

Trout put up his ridiculous numbers as a rookie and was not even old enough to drink alcohol until late in the season. And his sabermetrics — advanced statistics meant to take into account dozens of complex variables that traditionally were ignored — are off the charts, indicating that he is worth a whopping 10.7 wins over a replacement (WAR) vs. Cabrera’s 6.9.

There’s a reason I waited this long to bring those facts up, though — because they’re unnecessary. The argument for Trout is strong enough without considering age (which is irrelevant in the MVP vote) and sabermetrics (which many baseball purists loathe).

What matters is that Cabrera did something that has been done only 15 times before. Trout did something — 129 runs, 49 steals, 30 homers — that never has been done. Trout did it all: Hitting for average and power, running the bases well and excelling in the field. Cabrera hit for average and power, but that’s it.

And Trout’s team won more games than Cabrera’s.

The MVP is about more than three statistical categories and making the playoffs. After all, winning the Triple Crown and playing for a shot at the World Series are rewards themselves.

When you take into account all aspects of the game to determine who was most valuable to his team, the answer is not easy.

But the answer is Trout.

Contact Jason Mazda:


Miguel Cabrera: Triple Crown winner led team to playoffs

Mike Trout should be the American League Rookie of the Year.

The Los Angeles Angels standout should be the American League’s Gold Glove center fielder.

The 21-year-old Millville resident should emerge soon as the face of baseball. He has the potential and charisma to become one of the biggest sports stars ever in Los Angeles.

What Trout is not — at least for this season — is the AL Most Valuable Player.

That honor should go to Miguel Cabrera of Detroit Tigers, who won the AL Triple Crown with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 145 runs batted in. Cabrera, 29, is the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox in 1967.

Much of the debate between Cabrera and Trout pits baseball traditionalists against the rising influence of computer geeks who favor sabermetric statistics.

The geeks tell us that a single is as good as a walk because both put the batter on first base.

The geeks tell us that a solo home run and sacrifice fly is the same thing because they both produce a single run.

I don’t agree.

This is not an argument against Trout. It’s an argument for the magnitude of what Cabrera achieved this season.

Since 1900, only 12 players have won the Triple Crown. All — except for Cabrera — are in the Hall of Fame. Triple Crown winners are among the game’s most iconic players, including Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.

The MVP award started in 1931. Of the nine players who have won the Triple Crown since then, five of them were named MVP, including the last three — Yastrzemski (1967), Frank Robinson (1966) and Mantle (1956).

I also believe the MVP should come from a team that makes the postseason. The Tigers won the Central Division. Cabrera was at his best in August and September when the games counted the most.

He batted .357 in August and hit 10 home runs and knocked in 27 runs in September.

There is a reason why 100 years ago people decided batting average, home runs and RBIs were important statistics.

Sabermetrics are cute, but according to those numbers outfielder Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs is a better defensive player than Trout because Soriano’s UZR (ultimate zone rating) is 11.8 and Trout’s 11.4.

I have no idea what a UZR is, but does anyone think Soriano is better with the glove than Trout?

Trout’s rise to national prominence might be the best local sports story ever. He’s filled the entire region with pride.

He’s handled his success with class and dignity and that has made his achievements even more special.

Trout produced a historic year with a .326 average, 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases and 129 runs scored.

I just give a slight edge and the MVP award to Triple Crown winner Cabrera.

But I wouldn’t mind if I was wrong.

Contact Michael McGarry:


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