Thursday night marked the official end of the 2013 MLB season.
Yes, the Boston Red Sox have been celebrating their World Series championship for the past two weeks, but we can't officially close the proverbial book on the season until the premier players have been awarded for their efforts.
The Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger Awards and Players Choice Awards have all been handed out, and over the past week, the Baseball Writers' Association of America has recognized its top manager, rookie and pitcher in each league.
All that's left is the grand poo-bah: Most Valuable Player.
|American League||1st Place Votes (Total)||National League||1st Place Votes (Total)|
|Winner||Miguel Cabrera||23 (385)||Andrew McCutchen||28 (409)|
|2nd||Mike Trout||5 (282)||Paul Goldschmidt||0 (242)|
|3rd||Chris Davis||1 (232)||Yadier Molina||2 (219)|
|4th||Josh Donaldson||1 (222)||Matt Carpenter||0 (194)|
If you're starting to get a little déjà vu now, that's only normal. If not, you probably lived under a rock during the famous AL MVP debates of 2012.
Just like last season, it came down to Miguel Cabrera's traditional power stats—and, you know, being the most feared hitter on the planet—versus Mike Trout's advanced-statistical prowess.
Who do you think should have won?
Although Miggy didn't have the Triple Crown narrative, his 2013 numbers were somehow a step above last year's. He led the league in batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.442), slugging percentage (.636) and OPS (1.078), while he hit 44 home runs, crossed the plate 103 times and drove in 137.
The only numbers that fell short of his 2012 MVP campaign were home runs (by two), runs scored (by six) and RBI (by two)—and that's only because he played in 13 fewer games and stepped to the plate 45 fewer times.
His win makes him a back-to-back winner in the AL for the first time in nearly 20 years, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Miguel Cabrera: 1st player to win AL MVP in back-to-back seasons since Frank Thomas in 1993 and 1994— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 14, 2013
As Cabrera himself noted, though, he had some stiff competition:
Trout responded with another transcendent season of his own, hitting .323/.432/.557 with 27 home runs, 97 RBI, 33 stolen bases and a league-leading 109 runs scored.
Of course, the 22-year-old outfielder's real case lies in the advanced-statistics category. According to FanGraphs, Trout once again led the league in wins above replacement (WAR) by a healthy amount, while his defense ranked as the 21st-most valuable in the AL.
In the end, however, it was "Bitter Old Newspaperman" winning the heated battle for the second year in a row:
I wonder if Angry Math Basement Man or Bitter Old Newspaperman will win the AL MVP.— Old Hoss Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn) November 14, 2013
While it felt like a two-horse race, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis also deserves mention.
The first-time All-Star crushed 53 homers and plated 138 runners, marking the most impressive display of power we've seen since Jose Bautista in 2010. And the man who gave him his lone first-place vote had a slightly, let's call it interesting, ballot, per FanGraphs' Dave Cameron:
Bill Ballou's ballot is kind of aamzing. Davis #1, Trout #7. No obvious preference for players from winning teams.— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) November 14, 2013
Andrew McCutchen was sort of like the Mike Trout of the National League. That is, in the sense that his traditional numbers, although impressive across the board, weren't overwhelming—.317/.404/.508, 21 home runs, 84 RBI, 27 stolen bases and 97 runs scored.
But his value—hey, that's the name of the award—to the Pirates was crucial.
Per FanGraphs, Cutch led the NL in WAR, oftentimes carrying an inconsistent Pittsburgh offense and helping the Pirates make the playoffs for the first time since Billy Ray Cyrus had an "achy breaky" heart and Sir Mix-a-Lot was in search of big behinds (also known as 1992).
Interestingly enough, that was also the last time another Pirate won this award:
Andrew McCutchen: 1st Pirate to win MVP since Barry Bonds in 1992. Read all about it here http://t.co/Z40bpBHcYi— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 14, 2013
Who do you think should have won?
While the voting favored McCutchen in a major way, it wasn't necessarily a no-brainer decision.
Paul Goldschmidt led the NL in slugging (.551), OPS (.952), home runs (36) and RBI (125), while winning a Gold Glove over at first base.
Then you have Yadier Molina, whose case isn't made on numbers as much as it is on consistent hitting, Gold Glove defense, and always calling a good game behind the plate.
That's not to say his numbers weren't impressive—.319/.359/.477 with 12 home runs and 80 RBI in 136 games—but Molina is someone you have to watch on a daily basis to get an idea of how valuable he truly is.
Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, who turned in a campaign that easily could have placed him higher than the typical pitcher, only finished seventh, much to the chagrin of some:
Kershaw finished 7th. that is pathetic.— Lana Berry (@Lana) November 14, 2013
While there will be much debate and frustration, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports puts it simply:
One more thing: I hope the MVP award never changes. Love intensity of the debate. Good for the game.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 14, 2013