In the past, people have accused me of having a personal vendetta against Mike Trout. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m simply in awe of what he does on a baseball field night in and night out, and I’m not the only one:
Marcus Stroman, Trash-Talking Mike Trout with Positive Affirmations. pic.twitter.com/dnzs5K9OLE
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 19, 2019
Stroman isn’t wrong. Trout is probably the best player ever when it’s all said and done not named Barry Bonds in my eyes. Okay, A-Rod is up there in my eyes too, but you know, that whole juicing thing turns people off.
My beef isn’t with Trout. My beef is with anyone with an MVP vote.
Really, I have an issue with Trout winning the MVP because I took a long shot on an up-and-coming outfielder named Mookie Betts at 20/1 to win MVP in 2016, and while he outperformed Trout in every statistical category, Trout took home the award.
Mookie Betts 2016: .318 BA, 31HR, 113 RBI 26 SB
Mike Trout 2016: .315BA, 29 HR, 100 RBI, 30 SB
Every category that is, except one: WAR. Wins. Above. Replacement.
This stat has become the measuring stick for MVP voters for some reason and at the time of this writing, Trout just passed Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle to become the all time leader in WAR through an age 27 season.
Here’s my problem:
WAR is a stat, but it shouldn’t be the only one that matters. Mike Trout currently sits as the -700 AL MVP betting favorite, yet his team sits at 42-40, fourth in the AL West. I understand no one probably has less control as a non-pitcher in any sport for what happens around them than in baseball, but voters have a warped view on what the Most Valuable Player really means.
I have this argument when it comes to basketball and football all the time, and I recognize it’s different because pitchers have their own separate award, which I think should really be the case for The NFL as well, but that’s another conversation.
If the NBA took this approach to voting on the MVP, LeBron James would have won eight straight MVPs from 2008-to 2015. In the NFL, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers would win the award every single season. If we’re talking about wins above replacement, it’s certainly fair to look at Brady, but remember, New England once went 11-5 without him.
The MVP is about the player who meant the most to a team. If you take Trout away from the Angels, sure, maybe they’re much worse. Still, with him, they’re two games under .500.
Let’s look at another player who should be the rightful favorite for this award, Alex Bregman. Bregman is fourth in the AL in wins above replacement at 7.5 and first in the MLB in win probability added. Oh, and he held the Astros together when Altuve, Correa, Springer, and just about every other player in the lineup was injured to the tune of a 50-32 record, 1st in the AL West. He has the same amount of home runs as Mike Trout (22) to go along with five fewer RBIs (52).
However, Bregmen yet is +2000 while Trout is -700. I get why Trout is the favorite, but should there really be 27.00 difference between Bregman to Trout? It’s absolute insanity to say it’s a foregone conclusion and let’s not forget Trout isn’t immune to the injury bug. No, neither is Bregman already with an IL stint, but that makes the case even better for him as he’s done it in less games.
The NBA and NFL voters have this figured out when it comes to what makes a year to year MVP; baseball needs to catch up.