COMMENTARY | The wheels have fallen off the cart for this Los Angeles Angels season. Then the cart caromed off the road into a ditch filled with sludge and discarded produce.
Of course, the awfulness of the season is in direct proportion to the hopes and expectations with which the season started.
Sure, the team had some question marks in the starting rotation, but who could have known that the team would fall apart so thoroughly, and at almost every position?
One position that has shone bright all season long is wherever it is that Mike Trout is playing. He just turned 22 years old, and he's already the best player in baseball.
If you were designing the perfect baseball player, Mike Trout is exactly whom you'd come up with. Last year he got a late start on the season and easily took home the Rookie of the Year Award. And this year there is absolutely no sign of any "sophomore jinx." Home runs, stolen bases, doubles, walks, great catches and handsome as all heck.
As a matter of fact, he's been hitting even better this year than last year; and last year he should've been the American League's MVP, but he was robbed by the old-school baseball writers who fell in love with Miguel Cabrera's "Triple Crown" while ignoring the fact that two of those three stats are relatively useless.
Yes, Cabrera's offense was a bit better than Trout's. But his defense and baserunning were negatives while Trout's were among the best in the league. Coincidentally, the Detroit Tigers wound up losing the World Series in no small measure due to the team's baserunning errors and inferior defense.
Despite Trout's overall statistical superiority (10.0 WAR to 6.9 WAR), Cabrera won the MVP Award, and the voting wasn't even close. Voters felt strongly that someone needed to teach a lesson to all the stat nerds who are ruining the game of baseball by explaining it in greater depth and with more accuracy.
Detroit players and the media went on ad nauseam about how Cabrera "carried" the Tigers at the end of the season. But he was on a "team" of players that included an extremely productive Prince Fielder and a starting rotation that had an ERA under 2.00 for the last five weeks of the season. So, whom was he "carrying" exactly?
Also, going through the last month of the season game-by-game, Miggy's "incredible" offensive numbers actually only factored into four of the team's wins -- while his poor baserunning and fielding factored into three of the team's losses. "Interesting," say some. "Facts bad!" scream everyone else.
This season, with less than 50 games to go, it looks like we have another close race for the MVP with these two. Trout once again has the overall superior numbers (7.4 WAR to 7.0 WAR), and Cabrera has the slightly better offensive numbers. Like Trout, Cabrera's offense has also been even better this season.
Of course, the MVP isn't just "who has the best WAR?" There are other factors to look at -- most of which are somewhat subjective. And that's OK. It should never just be a mathematical award -- unless that math says 10.0 to 6.9.
However, this year there's a wrinkle in the overblown Triple Crown -- Chris Davis is also having a very good offensive season in those categories, so Cabrera probably won't get all three. Before you get too worked up, Baltimore Orioles fans, Davis isn't even close to this discussion. He's a heck of a batter and, so far, is a distant third place in the MVP ranks.
Davis' performance really shows the fallacy of using the Triple Crown as a basis for giving out an MVP Award. Cabrera's offensive numbers are better than last year's, but he probably won't get the Triple Crown and is therefore less likely to win the MVP.
With no Triple Crown and no Team Carrier, it's unclear what false narrative the media will come up with to pretend that Cabrera's offense is actually even more especially special to make up for being a terrible base runner and probably the worst-fielding third basemen in the league.
Maybe we can say "Cabrera's team made the playoffs (even though they would have without him)," or "Trout is just showing off," or "Cabrera hasn't been arrested for drunk driving in a while."
It will be interesting to see whether the voters have learned anything from last year's mistake. Do they consider the Most Valuable Player to be the one that contributes the most in all aspects of the game or is it the guy who leads the league in arbitrarily selected statistical categories?
And for Angels fans, it's the cliché "there's always next year." But, in the meantime, they get to pass the time watching the best player in baseball -- Mike Trout.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mike Trout
- Miguel Cabrera