COMMENTARY | Part of what makes the Most Valuable Player Award so intriguing is that it lacks any true definition. And, as with any "voted" award, it is subject to subjectivity.
When a team wins a game, it's clear to see that it won because it scored more runs than the other team. Regardless of how those runs scored, it is a finite result. But when we get to awards, and we start talking about the "best" or "most valuable," we are turning the decision over to opinion.
And the thing about opinions is that they can't all be right. For years, "CSI: Miami" was to many the "best" show on TV -- according to the ratings. And to many it was one of the worst shows ever,
While it did have the most unintentionally hilarious openings of any show ever -- with Horatio standing over the recently deceased, putting on his sunglasses and spouting a pithy remark. "This accident … was no accident at all." Cue music from The Who: "Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh!"
But "CSI: Miami" never won any awards, because, while it put up good numbers, it just didn't really have enough going for it to be considered the best. (Please note subtle metaphor for later reference.)
The 2013 baseball season is coming to an end and nine of the 10 playoff teams seem to be figured out. The fates of at least 19 other teams have been decided, and it's time to start figuring out which playoff-bound team you can sort of root for against the teams you hate.
However, over here in Southern California, fans of the Los Angeles Angels also have the thrill of watching Mike Trout excel in all aspects of the game and make a run at the MVP Award. The team's season is over, but you couldn't tell by looking at Trout's recent performance.
Less than a month ago, I wrote about how he's the best player in baseball and, thankfully, he has only proved me right since. His team won't come anywhere near the playoffs, but there is no one in the league more "valuable" than Mike Trout.
Like last year, it seems his main competition for the AL MVP will be the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera. Overall, Trout is statistically superior to Cabrera (9.8 WAR to 7.3 WAR) -- just like last year (10.0 WAR to 6.9 WAR). But what Trout has going for him this year is more about what Cabrera doesn't have.
Last season, Cabrera stole the MVP Award because baseball writers bought the PR that he "carried the team" and "won the Triple Crown." Well, due to recent injuries, Miggy can barely carry himself. And as silly as the Triple Crown is, it appears he won't have enough to win all three of those arbitrarily selected categories.
And at some point you figure that voters are going to have to pay some attention to the reality that Miggy is the worst-fielding third basemen in the league and quite possibly the last 15 years. And don't give me that stuff about his fielding percentage. Anyone who's ever played baseball knows that defense is more about what balls you get to.
Yes, it was awful swell of him to offer to move to third base when the team acquired Prince Fielder. But how many ground balls need to scoot past him before the award voters start to factor this into his overall contribution?
Meanwhile, over in sunny Southern California, Mike Trout dominates -- at the plate, on the bases and in the field. When I wrote about him about a month ago, he led Cabrera 7.4 WAR to 7.0 WAR. Cabrera has inched forward and Trout has launched ahead.
We already know he's vastly superior to Cabrera on defense and baserunning, but with .620 OBP and 1.310 OPS so far in September, Trout is closing the ground offensively. Again, while Cabrera does put up good numbers, he just doesn't really have enough going for himself to be considered the best.
This month could be what makes the voters finally get their heads out of the '80s and move on up to modern baseball. We've already seen them change the way they look at other dumb statistics like pitcher wins.
And with Trout's dominance, we could finally see a shift in the minds of the voters where they consider the Most Valuable Player to be the one that contributes the most in all aspects of the game and not just the guy who leads the league in arbitrarily selected statistical categories.
I hope they do. The fans and players deserve better. Jed puts on his sunglasses. "Or maybe … they'll be taken for a ride!"
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 see him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mike Trout
- Miguel Cabrera