I'd like to tell you a tale of two seasons. One belongs to Los Angeles Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout, and the other belongs to Detroit Tigers veteran third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Both put up phenomenal numbers during the regular season and when it comes time to hand out the AL MVP Award, chances are the winner will be one of these two men.
Thus, the question presents itself. Which man is truly the most valuable? Is it the multi-talented Trout or a very dangerous hitter in Cabrera?
Well, dear readers, the answer is simple. Mike Trout is the easy choice for 2012 American League MVP not only because of his numbers and value to the Angels, but also because of his overall value to baseball as a whole. That said, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) should take the following factors into consideration when it comes time to cast the votes.
Trout only appeared in 139 games in 2012, and after looking at the numbers, one can only wonder what they would look like had he played all 162. The 21-year-old hit an astounding .326, ironically second to Miguel Cabrera, belted 30 homers and led the majors with 49 steals and 129 runs scored.
Long story short, those types of statistics are ones only a truly great player is capable of posting. Trout is something special, not some run-of-the-mill outfielder. His value is borderline indeterminable and when it comes time for him to hit free agency or negotiate an extension with the Angels, I feel sorry for Los Angeles GM Jerry Dipoto.
Though Trout's numbers are great, that isn't to say that Cabrera had a worse season. In fact, Cabrera's 2012 season is probably one of the best in MLB history. The 29-year-old Venezuelan won the AL Triple Crown this year, leading the league in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139). He is the first man to accomplish this since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Boston Red Sox in 1967.
Yet, though the numbers are great, they're on par with what fans expect from Cabrera. This season marked his second AL batting title and his seventh All-Star appearance. On top of that, in 10 seasons, he has posted a .318 lifetime batting average with 321 home runs and 1,123 RBI, all at the age of 29.
That said, though Cabrera's career is far from over, he has still already established himself as one of the league's most valuable players. Yet, the Detroit Tigers are a very talented team and were he to go down with a season-ending injury, they would still have strong pitching and the powerful bat of Prince Fielder. Thus, is he really that valuable?
Cabrera is a fine player, but he's 6'2", slow on his feet and on the wrong side of 240 pounds. I mean, come on. Has he ever made a play as amazing as the one Trout makes in the video to the left? I think not.
That said, while Cabrera is probably the most valuable bat in the game, Trout is valuable both at the plate and in the field.
The Angels called Trout up from the minors on April 28, at which point the team was off to a slow start at 6-14. From that point on, the young outfielder added a jolt to the entire team and by the second half of the season, the Angels were fighting for a playoff spot.
Trout and his teammates ultimately missed out on making the postseason, but they were in the hunt for it up until the season's final days. If he weren't in the lineup from April 28 and on, it's pretty safe to say that the Angels wouldn't have even contended at all.
Trout and Cabrera are both young, but let's be honest. Cabrera has basically peaked and all he can really do to further cement his legacy is win a World Series ring, which may or may not happen. The World Series argument can also be made for Trout, but he still has a lot of growth left as a hitter. At just 21 years old, the possibilities as to what he could end up doing in his career are endless.
First off, his power and speed are such that he could easily become a member of the 40-40 Club. On top of that, he could definitely win multiple batting titles and Gold Gloves, and maybe even lead the majors in total hits.
Yet, Trout's future is bright in that Major League Baseball could easily use him as the face of the sport. Just like Mickey Mantle was an icon in his playing days, such could be the case for Trout during his career. He has charisma, great power, is a leader in the making and when push comes to shove, he just has more overall value.
If Cabrera is named AL MVP over him, then it's definitely a sign that statistics win out over anything.