For the moment, the debate is over. Miguel Cabrera is the American League’s Most Valuable Player, and the vote wasn’t all that close.
After the arguments between the supposed old and new school writers, Cabrera got more than three times the number of first place votes than Mike Trout did, 22-6.
Cabrera won the Triple Crown for the first time in 45 years. While his individual numbers weren’t earthshattering—44 home runs, 139 RBIs and a .330 batting average, they were awfully good.
Let’s look at some of the players who didn’t lead win the Triple Crown during that time: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey. George Brett, Chipper Jones, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Josh Hamilton.
When he was 20, A-Rod led the AL in batting average, but didn’t come close to leading in the other categories. Six years later in 2002, he had a league-leading 57 home runs and 142 RBIs. He batted .300, a full 49 points behind the winner, Manny Ramirez.
Of course, many of his stats and Bonds’ may be illegitimate, but even in the height of the steroids era, no one won the Triple Crown.
Trout’s stats are terrific, especially his 49 stolen bases in 54 attempts. Scoring 129 runs in 139 games—outstanding, but he only drove in 83 runs.
There are some excellent new offensive and defensive tools to measure performance, and Trout excelled using those gauges, but Cabrera was more important to his team’s success than Trout.
Without Cabrera, the Tigers don’t win the AL Central. The Angels started slowly and while they had 89 wins, one more than the Tigers, they didn’t play well enough, long enough to qualify for the postseason.
Cabrera is the difference maker for the Tigers, and he’s a wonderful all-around offensive player, who moved from first to third to accommodate Prince Fielder.
Detroit’s star not only did something that a lot of great all-around players couldn’t do, but outshone a lot of one-dimensional players, too. Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew and Wade Boggs were all great hitters, who won multiple batting titles, but couldn’t hit for power.
At 21, Trout’s career is just beginning, and if he’s as good as everyone says, he’ll be in the MVP conversation for years to come.
Just not this year.