Just when you start to think there’s some hope for baseball when it comes to voting for the end of season award winners, something like this happens. This development is doubly upsetting for me — yes, I said upsetting; I’m fucking upset right now — because I really thought Mike Trout was going to win the AL MVP in 2012 like he deserved. Nay, though; the voters have spoken, and they’ve once again proclaimed a blind, ignorant love of archaic statistics like batting average and runs batted in, two-thirds of what is involved for a player to win the coveted Triple Crown.
Meanwhile, all Mike Trout did was be a better baseball player in every sense of the word, and he’s got nothing to show for it. What’s especially sickening about this is that Trout is exactly the kind of player even the old school baseball writer types should be able to get behind. He’s a baseball player, in short. He does everything on the field, and he even hits as well. Normally, I’d be all over defending a player like Miguel Cabrera, a fat guy who can’t play defense and provides all of his value with the bat. Great job, Migster, way to handle the lumber. I — we at StanGraphs — have the utmost respect for Cabrera and his hitting prowess, but he was simply outplayed this year in every way, outplayed by a wunderkind in Anaheim who just got snubbed hard in his first year at the big league level. Welcome to the show, Trouty, and get used to this kind of shit happening.
I know that I shouldn’t be surprised, but for some reason I am. As I mentioned, Trout should have earned the awe and respect of every baseball fan around by now, both young and old, both statistically savvy and… otherwise. There was nothing he didn’t do well this past season, nothing at all. He ran around the bases like a deer, played center field (a premium position, mind you) like a deer with a glove strapped to its capable antlers, and hit baseballs harder than a car slamming into a deer frozen with panic on a deserted stretch of country highway in the middle of the night.
See for yourself. We’ve talked about the statistics behind Trout’s greatness before, but I suppose we’ll just have to do it again here. The 21-year-old phenom swiped 49 bases in 2012, and he was thrown out just five times in doing so. Five times! That’s a 91% success rate, which is just unheard of. Even the staunchest of sabermetricians couldn’t argue against the merits of having a player with Trout’s thievery skills trying to take second whenever he sees fit to do so. He’s not just savvy when it comes to stealing, however; you always hear about players who aren’t that fleet of foot but make up for that with great instincts, be it on the base paths or in the field, but let the record show Trout is not one of those players — he can fucking fly, period. Why, StanGraphs once saw him run down a wayward house blown away in a tornado moving at 75 miles per hour, pull it out from within the great storm’s vortex, and return it to its existing foundation completely intact all in the space of 30 seconds. As for his defense, well, UZR loved it so much that only a handful of players around the game were able to best him.
And of these players that did manage to best him on defense, none of them came anywhere near him in terms of base running effectiveness. Let’s make it even more of a slam dunk (which we’re betting Trout could do easily): Trout did all this while also posting a .409 wOBA. That’s a park adjusted, league adjusted stat, wOBA is. There’s really no way to argue against wOBA; the last person that tried was, we think, consumed by the ghost of Ted Williams or something. If you want to sort the qualifying position players by wOBA in 2012, by the way, there are only two that finished higher than Trout, and that’s Cabrera (.417) and Ryan Braun (.413). These two just managed to edge Trout in this one department, and here’s the thing — those are two of the very best hitters in all of baseball, and they’re not exactly known for doing a whole lot else. Perhaps that’s why Trout finished with 10.0 WAR per FanGraphs and neither of those two managed to even crack the 8.0 mark.
Look, if you want to argue that the Most Valuable Player award should go to the league’s best hitter, then fine, Cabrera is your guy. We’re not going to argue that Mike Trout is a better raw hitter than Miguel Cabrera, at least not at this point. When did offensive ability start trumping overall ability, though, especially when it comes to the opinion of baseball writers? Anyone who wants to make the argument that Cabrera was a better player than Trout in 2012 is simply not worth talking to, and the same can be said for each despicable person who decided a Triple Crown actually means something in modern times. Cabrera had a great season, but it pales in comparison to the year Trout had. Maybe better things will be waiting for the latter now that he isn’t a damned rookie anymore. The hype around kids these days!