Last Week: No. 1
No matter what Miguel Cabrera does in the next three days, Mike Trout is going to be the man to beat in the AL MVP race when the regular season comes to a close.
This is an obvious sign that I lean toward new-school trains of thought, but the thing about Trout that I think everyone has to appreciate is this: What he's done this season is essentially provide a new definition for the term "valuable."
For starters, Trout is an elite offensive player. He's hitting .321/.395/.557 with 30 home runs, 127 runs scored and 48 stolen bases. He leads the AL in runs and steals, and he ranks in the top 10 in average, OBP, slugging and OPS.
According to FanGraphs, Trout edges Cabrera for the AL lead in both wOBA and wRC+. His wOBA sits at .419, and his wRC+ sits at 172. These numbers indicate that Trout is the better offensive player between the two, and that should actually make perfect sense. Trout gets on base more frequently, and he uses his legs to take extra bases and score more runs. In a sense, he's the perfect offensive player.
He's also already achieved something far more rare than a Triple Crown season. The Triple Crown has been accomplished 15 times before. Trout is already the first player in MLB history to hit 30 homers, steal 48 bases and score 127 runs in a single season.
It's not just offense that makes Trout great. Among AL center fielders with at least 800 innings logged in the field, he has significant leads in both UZR and DRS. It will be an absolute tragedy if he doesn't win a Gold Glove this season.
For his part, Cabrera is in the red in both UZR and DRS. If you look beyond his .966 fielding percentage—a heavily flawed stat to begin with—you'll see that he's a well below-average fielder. To boot, it doesn't need to be argued that he's a liability on the basepaths.
Because Trout is a better offensive player, fielder and baserunner than Cabrera, it should come as no surprise that his WAR blows Cabrera's out of the water. FanGraphs has Trout at 10.0, and Cabrera at 6.9.
The counterargument here is that the player with the best WAR shouldn't automatically get the MVP, and I agree. But if you think WAR is the extent of my reasoning, think again. If it was, Cano would be ranked ahead of Cabrera in these rankings.
And if you really want to debate how much Cabrera and Trout mean to respective teams, I'll refer you back to the stats I shared on the Cespedes slide.
When Cabrera plays, the Tigers are a .538 baseball team. When Trout plays, the Angels are a .585 baseball team.