It’s an age-old debate in each of the major sports leagues. One of the best players in the league plays on one of the worst teams in that league. But, that one player has a season that was arguably better than anyone else in his sport and therefore should be honored with the Most Valuable Player award nonetheless right? Sometimes, it’s not that simple and this week’s American League MVP race was an example of said debate on display yet again.
This season, Mike Trout, outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in case you haven’t heard of him, had a .315 batting average, homered 29 times, stole 30 bases, posted an astounding .441 on-base percentage and several advanced statistics were another measure of just how good Trout’s 2016 was. However, to be nice, Trout’s teammates were not exactly on his level. The Angels finished the year 74-88 and in fourth place in the American League West. However, as evidenced by Rick Porcello winning the American League Cy Young award, voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America value wins, perhaps too much, as Porcello won the award despite several other statistics suggesting his wins were a result of the team around him. It seemed like Porcello’s teammate in Boston, Mookie Betts, was going to win the AL MVP for that reason.
Several of Betts’ numbers were similar to Trout’s. However, Trout’s on-base percentage was 78 points higher and the analytics favored Trout. Not to take anything away from Betts, but Trout is a better player. Then again, you can say that about any player compared to Trout. The Millville, New Jersey native is the best player in baseball and it would have been a travesty for his season to not be honored with an MVP award because his team won 74 games and Betts and the Red Sox won the AL East.
| David Zalubowski/Associated Press|
The first five full seasons of Trout's career have
been nothing short of spectacular.
To get an idea of just how good Trout’s career has been so far, consider this. First off, he was drafted in June 2009 and got to the majors late in 2011 at the age of 19. It’s unheard of for a high school player to make the majors in about two and a quarter years after being drafted. Then, 2012 was his first full season in which he ran away with the AL Rookie of the Year award. In all five of his full seasons in the big leagues, Trout has finished in the top two of AL MVP voting, with this year being the second time he won the award. He has been an All Star and won a silver slugger award in all five of those seasons as well. His career batting average is over .300 and his career on-base percentage is over .400. With all that said, he just turned 25 in August. There is plenty more to come.
Thankfully, in the eyes of the baseball writers, the Angels’ incompetence did not get in the way of Trout’s greatness. However, the real winner throughout all of this is Major League Baseball. Not only is Trout still very young, but Betts is one year younger. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve came in third in the AL MVP voting and is only 26. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the NL MVP award and like Betts, Bryant is 24. Dodgers shortstop, 22-year old Corey Seager won the NL Rookie of the Year award easily and finished third in NL MVP voting. All of these youngsters collected some hardware just weeks after the Cubs and Indians played a World Series that was loaded with young talent in addition to Bryant. The future of Major League Baseball seems to be in good hands. Thankfully, the face of the sport, was rewarded accordingly this season.