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Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis for MVP?

Given that he led the league in home runs for most of the 2014 season, it would stand to reason that Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles should be in the discussion for American League MVP. And for the record, he is in the discussion. But should he win the award? According to Marilee Gallagher of, the answer is no. She appears to be of the opinion that Miguel Cabrera was hurt for part of the season, thus it might not be fair to give the award to Davis. However her argument regarding Mike Trout is probably a bit more compelling in that he probably meant more in terms of wins and losses to his team given his WAR number.

Let’s be frank; MVP can be a very arbitrary and subjective argument. I’m not suggesting that Davis is the perfect choice for the award, because his 199 strikeouts on the season (a new team record) certainly does come across as incriminating in a sense. In fact one could argue that if he had gotten on base in a few more of those at-bats perhaps the Orioles would have won a few more games, perhaps ending up in the post season.

However I do find it interesting that quite a few people seem to be of the attitude that Davis’ 53 home runs don’t necessarily qualify him for the award. Yet those 53 home runs are the reason he’s in the discussion. In no way am I suggesting that Davis is the sure-fire winner, and in fact Gallagher says in her article that nobody’s head and shoulders above the rest.

I think that a lot of people are big on Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout right now, and with good reason. At the all-star break many people seemed to think it was a given that Cabrera would over-take Davis in home runs and end up with a second triple-crown. As was pointed out, injury problems seemed to undermine that effort. However if the discussion is Cabrera vs. Davis, that’s no reason to vote against Davis. If someone’s going to make that argument then for that matter Nolan Reimold should have been voted the Most Valuable Oriole for 2013 because he was hurt and that shouldn’t work against him.

If you’re asking me who I think the 2013 American League Most Valuable Player is going to be, I suppose I’d probably have to say Mike Trout. Does Davis deserve it more than him? I suppose it really matters what you’re looking for in an MVP, and which statistics you want to believe. I think that Davis does deserve the award, not simply because of his bat but also because of his glove. Davis’ defense was a big question mark coming into the season (based on his short time at first base last season). Instead of keeping that question mark on his forehead, he turned in a .996 fielding percentage when all was said and done.

However keep in mind that the WAR stat is something that’s being given a lot of legitimacy of late. Trout’s 9.2 WAR (wins above replacement) can’t really be argued. Furthermore, he’s a young guy and I suspect that’s the image that MLB wants to project these days. Not that something like that should make a difference, but…all other things being equal perhaps it does. All of that aside, time will tell who ends up getting the AL MVP. I think that most people, including Orioles fans, could probably live with any of those three. However with that said, it’s tough to argue against Davis when he led the majors in homers on a team that relied on home run balls.

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  • Bob Wight

    How about RBIs? Would the O’s have been in wild card contention if he had his 2012 stats? I thought Davis as MVP would be much more compelling if he ended up the major league leader in both HRs and RBIs….which he did. I would love to have seen Cabrera win a second triple crown but injuries are part of the game and certainly shouldn’t work against Davis.

    • Domenic Vadala

      Davis’ numbers across the board were up this year, and obviously all of this plays a role. I agree that the circumstances of Cabrera’s season shouldn’t work against Davis, and I don’t think that they will. However I suspect that Davis’ bigger competition is Mike Trout, due to his marketability. In my view I don’t think that should figure into the MVP voting in the least, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think it doesn’t. My personal opinion is that Davis deserves the award, but whether or not he gets it is another story. Thanks for reading!

      • Bob Wight

        Totally agree that Davis should get the award (tho I’m obviously biased). I have loved sabermetrics since discovering Bill James back in the early 80′s. That said, it almost seems like WAR is a made-up stat. Admittedly I stopped following baseball closely after Palmero pointed his finger at Congress so I’m not real familiar with the stat but have noticed that its always a part of the discussion when Trout and MVP are discussed. When I first attempted to figure out what it was exactly, one of the first things I read is that different people figure it out in different ways. Regardless, I’m loving that Oriole success has rekindled my love for the game.

        • Domenic Vadala

          Glad to have you back! WAR in effect measures how many wins the team would be out if someone else was playing in your stead. I agree it’s kind of a contrived stat, but the national media loves it these days.