MLB MVP 2014: AL and NL Award Winners, Voting Results and Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2014

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 05:  Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

For two straight years, the analytics community was left murmuring to themselves as Miguel Cabrera eclipsed Mike Trout in the American League MVP voting. There won't be any such complaints this season.     

Trout earned his first Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday, receiving all 30 first-place votes. He bested Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez and Indians outfielder Michael Brantley, each of whom fell far behind Trout's points total. Trout's 420 points were nearly double that of the second-place Martinez (229 points). 

AL MVP Voting
PositionPlayer1st-Place Votes2nd-Place Votes3rd-Place VotesTotal Points
1Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels)3000420
2Victor Martinez (DH, Detroit Tigers)0164229
3Michael Brantley (OF, Cleveland Indians)086185
4Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox)016145
5Jose Bautista (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)001128
MLB Network

The Angels outfielder is joined by fellow Los Angeles star Clayton Kershaw, who became the second pitcher to win baseball's most prestigious award in the last two decades. Kershaw unseated 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. The Dodgers ace earned 18 of 30 first-place votes, defeating second-place Stanton by 57 points.

NL MVP Voting
PositionPlayer1st-Place Votes2nd-Place Votes3rd-Place VotesTotal Points
1Clayton Kershaw (P, Los Angeles Dodgers)1891355
2Giancarlo Stanton (OF, Miami Marlins)81012298
3Andrew McCutchen (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)41015271
4Jonathan Lucroy (C, Milwaukee Brewers)010167
5Anthony Rendon (3B, Washington Nationals)001155
MLB Network

Both viewed as the best players at their respective positions, Trout and Kershaw each turned in campaigns more than fitting of the MVP.

Trout, who at 23 is one of the youngest players in history to take the honor, hit .287/.377/.561 with a career-high 36 home runs and 111 RBI. He led the Angels to an MLB-best 98 wins, 20 more wins than their confusing 2013 campaign. 

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 05: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a home run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Misso
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

While the plaudits are deserved, it's fair to say 2014 was actually the worst of Trout's three MLB seasons. After accumulating 82 steals in his first two full seasons combined, Trout set a career worst with 16. He also struck out 45 more times than his previous high and saw his defensive numbers slip into the below-average realm. FanGraphs' wins over replacement metric had Trout worth nearly three full wins less than he was in 2013.

But unlike the last two seasons, where Cabrera was racking up Triple Crown numbers while leading the Tigers to the playoffs, Trout lacked for elite-level competition. His "worst" MLB season still made him the best hitter in the sport by a full win, and the Angels' success made him a no-brainer choice. Trout's peers named him the American League's Most Outstanding Player last week, with the MVP that followed seeming like an inevitability.

"Mike's not only the MVP of our league," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters, "but also the best player of our league. I think he's certainly gone out and captured that award."

Kershaw's win was much more in question, though more so out of positional bias than anything. The 26-year-old lefty earned his third Cy Young Award this week, taking the NL honors in unanimous fashion. That he'd win the Cy Young was, like Trout's MVP, little more than a formality. Despite missing six starts due to injury, Kershaw was the MLB leader in wins (21), ERA (1.77) and WHIP (0.86) while striking out 239 batters in 198.1 innings.

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 07:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Four of the National League Divison Series at Busch Stadium on October 7, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by
Pool/Getty Images

“I can’t even fathom it happening,” Kershaw said of winning the Cy Young and MVP awards, per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s such an amazing honor to be associated with the guys that have done that in the past, to have the recognition of not only your peers, but the writers, that think that you deserve the Most Valuable Player.”

Working against Kershaw was the increasing belief that the Cy Young is a pitcher's award, thus making the MVP one for position players only. Since the introduction of the Cy Young, only eight players had won both awards in the same season—and the frequency was becoming far less. From 1981 to 1992, four players took the Cy Young and MVP.

Justin Verlander in 2011 is the only player since.

“I think a lot of things probably have to go right,” Kershaw said, “because I think most people would vote for a position player over a pitcher…I think Most Valuable is such a tough thing to assess. I’m glad that you guys have to do it and I don’t.”

Some would argue Kershaw also had more legitimate competition. McCutchen finished second behind Trout among hitters in WAR, leading the Pirates to their second straight playoff berth. The Pirates outfielder was not quite as prolific as his MVP campaign in 2013 but was nonetheless a worthy opponent. At the very least, the positional bias was enough for some to justify giving him the back-to-back treatment.

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01:  Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates leads off of first in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants during the National League Wild Card game at PNC Park on October 1, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (P
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, while not endorsing any one player, said a position player deserved the award over Kershaw.

“I think pitchers should win the pitching award, the Cy Young Award, but not the MVP, because he only goes out there every four or five games,” Lasorda said on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio, per Mark Saxton of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “The other guys go out there every day and that makes a big difference in that award. I think it should be set that pitchers should not get the Most Valuable Player.” 

Stanton, like Brantley and Martinez in the American League, was a strong candidate in his own right. The Marlins star belted 37 home runs and had 105 RBI but was a victim of his team's 77-win figure. Barring a substantial outlier season from a non-playoff contender, it's often difficult for the likes of Stanton to win the award—as Trout found out in 2013. The voting might have turned out differently had the Marlins made a more concerted playoff push or had Stanton's facial injury not cost him the last couple weeks of 2014.

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Michael Brantley #23 of the Cleveland Indians bats against the Minnesota Twins during the eighth inning of the second game a doubleheader on September 11, 2014 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Indians defeated t
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Brantley was much more of a legitimate candidate than most gave him credit for. His slash line of .327/.385/.506 with 20 home runs, 97 RBI and 23 steals are an outlier on his previous career totals but were nonetheless impressive. Martinez, who re-upped with the Tigers this week, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, earned himself his fat new contract with his 32 home runs and 103 RBI but doesn't play the field and is a net negative when he has to fill in.

In a nutshell, after years of fracturing down the baseball lines, the writers finally agreed on something in 2014. And they got it right.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Related

    Report: Harper, Philly Owner in Vegas 👀

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Report: Harper, Philly Owner in Vegas 👀

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    DV Cost Gordon's Mom Her Life, and Changed His Forever

    MLB logo
    MLB

    DV Cost Gordon's Mom Her Life, and Changed His Forever

    Scott Miller
    via Bleacher Report

    Kyler: Telling A's He'd Play Football 'Was Tough'

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Kyler: Telling A's He'd Play Football 'Was Tough'

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Every Team's Next Superstar 💫

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Every Team's Next Superstar 💫

    Jacob Shafer
    via Bleacher Report