When postseason baseball comes to an end, baseball fans will miss their beloved game, but they'll have a couple of things to look forward to:
Offseason free agent and trade market moves, and the announcement of award winners.
Both usually make for an interesting time of year, and baseball fans love to debate who should and who shouldn't win such-and-such award.
One of the most hotly debated award races is sure to be the American League MVP award. And in this writer's opinion, the debate comes down to two guys: Baltimore Orioles' first baseman Chris Davis and Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
Cabrera is the obvious favorite in the AL MVP award conversation, coming off of a 2012 in which he won the Triple Crown award, led his Tigers to the World Series, and won the MVP.
After another incredible season, Cabrera deserves a second MVP award. But he doesn't deserve it more than Davis does.
Looking at their numbers at first, you may disagree. And I can understand that. They both have good stat lines, and Cabrera was better more often than not.
Here's their respective stat lines for 2013:
Davis: 160 G, .286 BA, 103 R, 167 H, .370 OBP, 53 HR, 138 RBI, .634 SLG, 1.004 OPS, 42 2B, 199 K, 72 BB, 370 TB
Cabrera: 148 G, 103 R, 193 H, .348 BA, .442 OBP, 44 HR, 137 RBI, .636 SLG, .1078 OPS, 26 2B, 94 K, 90 BB, 353 TB
Of the above, Davis only bested Cabrera in games played, home runs, RBI, doubles and total bases, and they tied in runs scored. But raw stats don't tell the whole story, especially when talking about the MVP award, as MVP stands for most valuable player. Or in other words, the player who presented the most value to his respective team, not the player with the best overall stats.
Davis had a historic season, one in which he became just the fourth player in MLB history to hit a homer in each of his team's first four games, joining Willie Mays, Mark McGwire and Nelson Cruz, per Brittany Ghiroli of mlb.com. He also is just the third player in history to hit 50 or more homers and 40 or more doubles in a single season, along with Babe Ruth and Albert Belle.
That's some pretty good company. Not even Cabrera has done that. At least not yet.
What's more, Davis led the majors in extra-base hits, and by a ridiculous margin. Of said hits, Davis accumulated 96, which is 21 more than the next-best totals gathered by the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout and Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt. Cabrera tallied up 25 fewer extra-base hits than Davis did, at 71. And according to math done by Steve Melewski in response to a reader comment on his blog at MASNsports.com, even if Cabrera finished the season with as many at-bats as Davis had, his pace would have still slotted him 21 XBH behind Davis.
Only four other players have led the league in XBH by 20 or more since 1871, those being Babe Ruth (1921), Lou Gehrig (1927), Stan Musial (1948) and Albert Belle (1995).
Again, pretty good company.
On the fielding side, Davis is almost certainly more valuable the Cabrera is. While Cabrera has proven to be a reliable enough defender at third base, he won't be winning any Gold Gloves any time soon. On the flip side, Davis likely won't win a Gold Glove this season, but certainly played defense well enough to garner attention and consideration for the award.
Davis had a .996 fielding percentage at first base, with just six errors in 155 games and 1,377.2 innings. Cabrera produced a .958 fielding percentage and 12 errors in 145 games and 1,234.2 innings at third base, doubling Davis' error total in ten fewer games on the diamond.
It may be logical to say that third base is a harder position to play than first base, and if you argued that I'd likely agree with you. However, at the professional level, playing defense anywhere is difficult. And the few stats I offered above are some of the only real comparable ones between the two positions.
Finally, Davis presented more value to his team by staying on the field all season. As most everyone knows, Cabrera has been dealing with some nagging groin and abdominal injuries for much of the later half of the season, limiting his playing time as well as his production.
Both Davis and Cabrera slowed down towards the end of the season. Davis was easy to see coming due to having such a hot start. A cool off down the road was only logical, in terms of the laws of averages.
Cabrera, however, was on and off the field towards the end of the year trying to stay healthy to help his team in the playoffs. He has just two extra-base hits since August 26: a double on September 13 and a homer on September 17.
Health isn't Miggy's fault, of course. No one can help that they're injured, and no one can help how quickly they heal or their performance during an injury. Pain is pain. But in this case, a healthy player is certainly more valuable to his team than an unhealthy one. Davis stayed healthy all season. Cabrera did not, and his numbers reflect that to an extent.
Davis deserves the 2013 AL MVP award because, just like Cabrera and what he did last year, we may never see some of the things he accomplished this year ever again, such as hitting a homer in each of his team's first four games, or hitting 50 or more homers and 40 or more doubles in a single season.
He also is the superior defender at his respective position on the ball field, and his ability (and admittedly, luck) to stay healthy. And though the Orioles weren't able to make the playoffs like the Tigers were, think about where the O's would have finished had it not been for Davis sitting in the middle of their lineup every day. He did account for 53 of the team's league-leading 212 homers, exactly one-quarter of them, as well as leading his team in batting average with runners in scoring position.
Had Cabrera stayed healthy all season, we could be looking at a back-to-back Triple Crown winner. Unfortunately though, he wasn't able to accomplish the feat. And in the process, he allowed Davis to overtake him in the AL MVP discussion.
If I had a vote, my vote would go to Davis for the AL MVP. I hope I did a well enough job to convince you of the same.
There's no denying Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter on the planet right now, but in 2013, Chris Davis offered more value to his team than Cabrera or anyone else in the AL. That's why he should be the 2013 AL MVP.
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