The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have Mike Trout and Jered Weaver each having outstanding seasons this year. In fact both are making solid cases for the top awards. But several pieces of historical precedence are conspiring against them.
Going into today's game, Trout's stats are mouth watering to both traditional and Sabermetric crowds. For those who value batting average, runs and stolen bases, Trout leads the American League in all three. He also has 24 homers and 70 RBI while primarily being a lead off batter.
For those who like OPS, WAR and something called Base-Out Wins Added, then Trout is your man. He leads the American League in those categories as well. In fact Baseball Reference has him leading in categories that this author has never heard of but they sound quite impressive.
His Power-Speed Number is 4.7. That's the best in the American League. Send me a private message if you know how to calculate that.
Throw in his stellar defense and the fact when he arrived with the team on April 28, the Angels were 7-14. They have been 57-46 since, and that includes their miserable 7-13 August. Clearly Trout has a solid MVP case.
Weaver leads the American League in wins, winning percentage and has the lowest WHIP in the league as well. He spent some time on the disabled list which cut down on his innings and strikeout totals.
But the All Star Game starter is still in the top five for ERA, complete games and shutouts. He also has a no hitter thrown in there for good measure. He is certainly a top contender for the Cy Young along with Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, David Price and Felix Hernandez.
The historical factors sneak into the equation at this point. Trout's case is as open and shut for an MVP as you can get except for one factor: The Angels freefall will probably keep them out of the post season.
It certainly is not Mike Trout's fault that the Angels have gone from pennant contender to approaching .500 in less than a month. He has batted .304 with a .976 OPS with six homers and 15 RBI in 20 games this August.
But since the divisions split and the wild card was formed in the mid 1990s, only three players have won the MVP who were not on a playoff team. San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds did it in 2001 and 2004. Texas Ranger Alex Rodriguez did it in 2003. And Colorado Rockie Larry Walker had his Coors Field aided MVP in 1997.
Now with five playoff teams in the mix, voters might say rightly or wrongly that the MVP should come from one of those five and not from a team on the outside looking in.
Also the Rookie of the Year is all but wrapped up for Trout. Only Fred Lynn with the 1975 Red Sox and Ichiro Suzuki with the 2001 Mariners won Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year. Both of those players were post season bound.
As for Trout and Weaver both winning the big awards in the same year, another precedent would have to be broken. The first Cy Young Award was given out in 1956. At first it was one single award for all of baseball. In 1967, a Cy Young was awarded to both the National League and the American League.
Since Don Newcombe of the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers won the first Cy Young Award, there have been 26 instances where the Cy Young and the MVP went to the same team in the same year.
Ten of those times, the Cy Young winner was also the MVP. That includes Newcombe in 1956 and Justin Verlander last year.
The 16 times when the same team had one player win the MVP and another one win the Cy Young Award, 15 of them were playoff teams.
From 1957, when the World Champion Milwaukee Braves featured MVP Hank Aaron and Cy Young winner Warren Spahn, to 2006 when the Central Division Champion Minnesota Twins included MVP Justin Morneau and Cy Young winner Johan Santana, that combination almost always included a team playing in the post season.
The one exception was the 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers, who featured MVP Maury Wills and Cy Young winner Don Drysdale. But even that has a caveat. That team played a three game National League pennant tie breaking series with the San Francisco Giants. They had a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning of the final game and were two outs away from winning the pennant.
Chances are this Angels team will not get to within two outs of the pennant.
So while it is not insurmountable, precedence is conspiring against Mike Trout from winning the 2012 Most Valuable Player award. He might have to be content with the Rookie of the Year.
However with his talent, he might just win it in 2013.
Jered Weaver has a better shot of winning his award even though his case is not as strong.
There is a solution for this, however. If the Angels go on a winning streak and make the playoffs, then Trout and Weaver should make some room in their trophy case.