The race for the American League MVP

Rookie sensation Mike Trout has dominated MLB news this year since his early-season call up but has his recent dip in form hurt his chances of taking home the award for best player in the American League?

Trout has established himself as the Wins Above Replacement king of the league. His 10.6 rating suggest that he alone adds more than 10 wins to a team when replacing an average player in his position.

That is an astonishing 3.9 wins above the next position player, Robinson Cano, and 4 above the only other realistic candidate for the award Miguel Cabrera.

Trout’s performance this year has drawn comparisons to hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. He is also rated as one of the premier defensive players in the league, something that Cabrera most definitely isn’t. Cabrera actually has a negative defensive Win Above Replacement rating.

However, Cabrera is doing something that no-one has done in 45 years, he has a realistic challenger for the triple crown, an award for topping the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.

He leads the league in RBI and batting average, and trails the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton by one home run with six games to go this season.

Cabrera’s case gathers more momentum when compared with Trout’s performance down the stretch. Trout’s batting average has slipped from .341 in the first half, to a still impressive .305 in the second half.

Cabrera on the other hand has gone from strength to strength, battering 24 home runs in the second half compared to 18 in the first, despite having played 18 less games in the second half so far.

Whether Trout can take home the award is essentially dependent on how voters view defensive play. If the game is valued at more than offensive statistics, Trout should take home the award.

However, if the archaic statistical measures are adhered to, it looks certain the Cabrera, a perennial MVP candidate, will take home his first award, having finished in the top five in five of the past seven seasons.

image: © Keith Allison