I was in my car when I got the news that Miguel Cabrera had won the American League MVP. It wasn’t surprising to me, but what was surprising was the fact that so many people were upset that Mike Trout didn’t win the award. Please don’t get me wrong; Trout was a very worthy candidate. Quite frankly I would have been very comfortable with Trout winning the award. Furthermore Cabrera himself was a very worthy candidate. He led MLB this year with a .348 average, .442 OBP, 44 homers, and 137 RBI (one less run batted in than Chris Davis).
I suppose what’s a bit surprising to me is that Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles didn’t garner a bit more outrage in terms of being “snubbed.” Davis of course led the majors with 53 homers, 138 RBI, and was a Gold Glove finalist at his position. Davis received one first-place vote, which qualified him for third in the voting. If you’re keeping score at home, Mike Trout was second. The proof is in the pudding as they say, in the sense that Cabrera ran away with the award. However did he win it for the right reasons?
The glaring difference here is that Cabrera’s Tigers went to the post season, whereas Trout’s Angels and Davis’ Orioles did not. So does that play a role in the voting? One would hope not.
Most of the BBWAA writers would tell you that it doesn’t. However throw the numbers out the window for one moment. Look at what Davis did defensively for the Orioles in 2013. Again, don’t even bring his defensive numbers into the mix; think back on the tight picks, great catches, etc. that we saw out of him at first base. Again throwing the numbers out the window, look at how much of the Orioles’ offense centered around him. Is there any doubt that the team would have been up a creek without a paddle without Davis? (A situation referred to as being Munson’d in the classic movie Kingpin.) So…isn’t that kind of the definition of a Most Valuable Player?
This is all a relative discussion, as the sabermetricians are all arguing that Trout got snubbed today. And they might be right. However the fact that Cabrera went to the post season as opposed to both Trout (who’s season was over well before the end) and Davis (who’s season in theory ended the last week of the season). I would agree that in most cases the Most Valuable Player is going to come from a team that’s probably in the post season. One notable example of course is the Orioles’ Cal Ripken Jr. winning the award in 1991. However it would be interesting to go back over the course of the last 15-20 years and see if there were perhaps more worthy candidates than the eventual winner. And by that I mean more worthy candidates who perhaps were on teams that didn’t go to the post season.
Ultimately Davis will have to settle for a Silver Slugger award, being nominated for a Gold Glove, and of course with being the 2013 Most Valuable Oriole. However if the past two seasons are any indication, I’d expect him to be in the MVP conversation for some time.