With the 2012 MLB regular season coming to a close, discussion about the American League MVP is heating up. It’s become a two-man race, with Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera being the top two candidates to win the award.
Both players are having tremendous seasons, and can make the case to be the called best player in the AL this year.
At 21 years old, Trout could become the youngest MVP in the history of the sport. In his ninth season, Cabrera is having the best year of his career and could set MLB history.
It might be difficult for some writers not to give their vote to Cabrera. The Detroit Tigers third baseman is having an historic statistical season, and is on the verge of becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years. Carl Yastrzemski last led the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in when he did it for the 1967 season.
Cabrera has all but secured the league lead in RBI with 136. He’s in first place with a .325 batting average and is tied with Josh Hamilton at 43 homers with three games to go.
Trout’s totals don’t compare to Cabrera’s, having played in 22 fewer games. The Los Angeles Angels outfielder is right behind Cabrera with a .321 batting average. Even if he had played the entire season, though, his 30 home runs and 80 RBI put him on a pace that would be well behind his counterpart.
Still, winning the Triple Crown won’t guarantee Cabrera the award. Multiple players have led the league in the three major categories, and weren’t named the MVP. Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Chuck Klein didn’t finish first in the voting, despite having record-setting seasons.
If Cabrera beats Trout in the Triple Crown categories, the L.A. star might be better than Cabrera in most other aspects of the game.
Trout is one of the best defensive players in the game. Cabrera is a liability on defense. The Angels rookie is a great base runner, while Cabrera is below average on the base paths. Trout leads the AL with 48 steals on 52 attempts. The Tigers star has stolen just four bags.
According to the players’ WAR, this shouldn’t even be a discussion. The stat says that Trout is worth 10.5 wins this year, compared to 6.5 for Cabrera.
If voters are undecided, the race might come down to each player’s performance down the stretch.
Both the Tigers and Angels are in the race to make the playoffs. Heading into the last three days of the season, Detroit is just one win away from clinching the Central Division. Los Angeles has to win the rest of their games to even have a chance at clinching a wild card spot.
Cabrera has played extremely well en route to the Tigers making the postseason. His OPS for both August and September were both well over 1.000.
While Cabrera stepped up his level of play in the final two months, Trout’s production slipped a little. He hit .271 with 25 RBI in the final third of the season.
A week ago, the betting Web Site Bovada put Cabrera as the favorite to win the award with 2/3 odds. Trout was second at 6/5.