“Money Ball” Measures, Over Triple Crown, Determines AL MVP

Now that that MLB regular season has come to a close, major headline stories have developed. The most notable would be Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers reaching the landmark achievement of being the Triple Crown winner. This is a rarity in baseball, and Cabrera’s achievement is monumental, not only for himself, but for his team. Since last night, many sports analysts have already anointed Cabrera as the MVP winner for the American League, and for good reason. However, despite Cabrera being the Triple Crown winner, I do not even believe that he should be named the AL MVP. To be completely honest, I have always subscribed to the theory that in order to win the MVP award you have to at least be the most valuable player on your respective team, and I cannot say with confidence that Cabrera even earned that title over the Tigers’ ace pitcher Justin Verlander.

The only fair way to assess players’ contention for the MVP award would be to consider objective baseball statistics that give a true measure of any players’ contributions on the field. This would be done through the famous “Money Ball” tactic of sabermetrics. In the case of awarding the AL MVP this season, using sabermetrics would dictate that the award must go to Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Anyone can reason that runs are what win games, not batting averages. That being the case, Trout has accumulated 129 runs througout the season as compared to Cabrera’s 109. In addition, not only did Trout make a larger run contribution, he was able to contribute to a team that generated more wins than the Detroit Tigers. This evidence is what directly contributes to Trout having a higher “wins above replacement” (WAR) number than Cabrera. So, from a completely objective point of view and looking at contibutions to their franchises, Mike Trout is hands-down the MVP candidate to choose.

The bottom line with selecting the AL MVP is a person has to consider the player who is worth more to their team than a replacement-level player. Trout epitomizes that scenario, and he was able to contribute to more of his team’s wins in a much tougher division than the AL Central. A triple crown winner may be a good headline for the MLB, but what Trout has done as a rookie has never been seen before and we may never see a rookie have a season like this again.

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