Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim phenom Mike Trout has demonstrated and accomplished things on a baseball diamond in a matter of months that some of the games most legendary marquis stars of yesterday have ever scratched the surface of doing. There is little doubt that Trout is equipped with a very special set of tools and a unique skill set that at just 21-years of age has many people comparing him to all-time greats like Hank Aaron and Ty Cobb.
After winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in a unanimous vote on Monday and the MLBPAA overall Heart and Hustle Award on Tuesday evening, Trout has seen no shortage of recognition for the extraordinary display of pure talent that he showcased in his first full season in the big leagues. After blasting 30 home runs and driving in 83 runs while posting a robust .326 batting average and swiping 49 bases in the leadoff spot, Trout admits that he has reflected back on the season that has made him a finalist for the prestigious MVP award, which will be awarded later on this evening.
“I look back at it, but you have got to be confident in your abilities and I knew I had it in me,” admitted Trout. “There is still work to be done. We fell short and didn’t make the playoffs, so we have to try harder next year.”
Trout added, “Coming into the year, for me personally, I wanted to be the best player in the league; that was one of my goals. To be in that discussion at the end of the year, it’s pretty cool.”
Despite being a career .342 minor league hitter and ranking as the premier prospect in the game, many wondered about Trout’s power numbers, or lack thereof. Through his first three full minor league seasons and just 20 games down on the farm to open the 2012 campaign, Trout hit a mere 23 homers as a professional over that stretch.
“I figured the power numbers would come later in my career,” explained Trout. “But, I guess the adrenaline rush and just the way I was feeling at the plate, the ball was jumping out of the park.”
Trout won the Rookie of the Year honors in one of the biggest landslide votes in the long and storied history of the honor but his competition for the MVP Award may go down as one of the closest races in recent time. Trout along with Detroit Tigers third baseman, Miguel Cabrera, are widely viewed as the top two contenders to take home the hardware when the BWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) reveal their voting results tonight.
Cabrera of course, is coming off a story book 2012 campaign of his own that saw him capture the Triple Crown Award for leading the American league in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139). Cabrera became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the award and just the seventeenth player in the games rich and illustrious history to accomplish the feat.
“It would mean the world,” Trout said in regards to winning the MVP Award. “It’s a dream come true to get to the big leagues, but to win the MVP would mean a lot to me and my family.”
When voting for many of baseballs post-season honors, the voting members of the BWAA often take into account the advanced sabermetric statistic, wins above replacement, otherwise labeled as WAR, when weighing a respective players true value to their team.
When the complicated calculations of WAR are computed, the end result essentially shows how many more wins a player is worth to their team in comparison to a replacement or bench level player at his position. In 2012, Trout posted a 10.7 WAR, which led all of baseball, ahead of New York Yankees second baseman, Robinson Cano, who finished in second with a net team worth of 8.2 WAR.
Asked if he felt his stellar WAR mark would increase his standing in the MVP battle, Trout said, “Coming into the year, I really didn’t know what WAR was, I kind of don’t know what it is now. I know it’s wins above replacement or something, right? I really don’t pay attention to that stuff. I just go out there and play, and if it’s over 10, I guess that’s great, that’s what people say.”
If WAR does indeed depict a players true worth then the proof is in the pudding that Trout statistically did have the highest net impact on his organization. Fans often debate the true meaning of the MVP Award and what exactly it stands for. Should it go to the player with the best statistical season at the plate, or the best player who was the most “valuable” to his team, regardless of standing or finish?
Cabrera of course, led the league in most vital offensive categories and also was the anchor to a Tigers team that advanced all the way to the World Series. Trout has inferior offensive statistics to Cabrera and also played for a team that endured an epic September collapse that saw them blow a Western Division lead to the Oakland Athletics in the finals days of the regular season en route to missing the postseason.
Trout believes taking into account all of his abilities as a five tool player; the ability to play Gold Glove caliber defense in the outfield while possessing speed to steal bases and score runs in bunches as well as hit for average and power, that he may have the advantage with respect to Cabrera and his Triple-Crown as the better complete player.
“You look at it as the best all-around player or the best hitter,” explained Trout. “That’s the way I look at it. I think I’ve got the edge as best all-around player.”
Will the American League MVP be taken home by the best hitter, or the best all-around player? That remains to be seen, but we will certainly learn the answer to that question in a matter of hours.
“I’ve thought about it for a little bit now, said Trout. “I’m anxious to see what happens, it’s up in the air right now.”