Voters chime in on their AL MVP ballots …

MLB.com reached out to the 30 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America regarding their ballots for the AL MVP Award, which saw Mike Trout finish a distant second to Miguel Cabrera for a second straight year. Below were their explanations for why they sided where they did in the seemingly-never-ending Trout vs. Miggy debate (their full ballots can be seen here; * denotes those who voted on the AL MVP a second straight time) …

Evan Grant* (Dallas Morning News): 1 Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Josh Donaldson 

My feeling was that Cabrera and Trout stood above the field. Cabrera changed the way opponents approached entire games. Trout was a great offensive player, the better defender and the better fielder. In the end, after looking more at advanced stats than at traditional ones, I was left with two guys who I thought were pretty dead-even as I believed Cabrera’s offensive game-changing ability made up for what he lacked on defense and on the bases. And, so, I could consider WAR and take the formula’s word for it that Trout theoretically meant more to the Angels than Cabrera did to the Tigers or I could look at the standings and see actual wins and losses. So, yes, in that regard, I guess some folks could say I penalized Trout for playing for a bad team. I prefer to look at this way: In a close race, I rewarded Cabrera for helping his team realize its goals.

Ken Rosenthal (FOX Sports): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson

I’m just wondering, what is it going to take for Trout to win an MVP? Another writer said it well — he is this generation’s Mantle. I generally prefer my MVP to come from a contender, but why should Trout be held responsible for the failings of his owner, general manager, manager and teammates? I love Cabrera, but Trout is far superior as an all-around player and, when you put it all together, more valuable. 

Tim Brown (Yahoo! Sports): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson

In its simplest terms, my first-place vote went to the most complete player in the game. While Mike Trout did not necessarily hit with Miguel Cabrera, he was so far superior outside the batter’s box that I believed it more than covered that ground. The issue of “value” continues to be kicked around. My view is this: The best player carries the most value.

Bob Dutton* (Kansas City Star): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson

Tough choice — just like last year when I voted for Cabrera. I cover the Royals and few people punish them on a regular basis like Cabrera, but I saw him a lot down the stretch, and he just wasn’t the same. I know he finished with great numbers, maybe better overall than last year, but Trout does so many other things. It came down to this: If we were picking teams based solely on this season, and I had the first pick, who would I pick? For me, the answer was Trout.

Jeff Wilson* (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): 1. Cabrera, 2. Chris Davis, 3. Trout

Mike Trout can do things on a baseball field that Miguel Cabrera can’t. I’m not that blind. But for a second straight year, Cabrera posted fabulous offensive numbers, ones that please the traditional baseball crowd and ones that even Sabermatricians agree are pretty impressive. And he did so for a contender. I recognize that Trout wasn’t the least bit responsible for the Angels’ lousy season. Injuries, questionable signings and an owner who doesn’t get it doomed them. But he also didn’t play in meaningful games for all but a week or two in May. Cabrera’s Tigers won the AL Central, and he hit more homers and drove in more runs against their main rival, Cleveland, than any other team. I also believe, as do many baseball people, that Cabrera isn’t the defensive lump at third base that he’s perceived to be. Add it all up, and Cabrera was my MVP. The man who kept him from a second straight Triple Crown, Chris Davis, also played meaningful games all season and was my second pick. I had Trout third, though not without considerable thought of placing him higher.

Susan Slusser* (San Francisco Chronicle): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Donaldson

Cabrera was again the best hitter in the league and helped get his team to the postseason while playing through a significant injury. Despite the injury (later revealed to be a sports hernia that required surgery), Cabrera won the batting title again and topped the league in OPS. Trout is the best all-around player in the league, I agree — but I weigh offensive output higher than defensive metrics for MVP candidates, and Cabrera remains the better hitter. I do always consider how teams finish as a factor, too. It’s not always the deciding factor, but it’s a big consideration.

Phil Rogers (MLB.com): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Donaldson

You wouldn’t think somebody could be better than they were during a Triple Crown season but Miguel Cabrera found a way to raise his game, maybe because he had a little more help in the Detroit lineup. He was an easy choice over Mike Trout for me, in large because I think that the MVP should come from a playoff team, especially now that we’re in an era in which one of every three teams goes to the playoffs. Winning matters but records being equal I still probably would have taken Cabrera over Trout. You can’t replace a guy who hits day in and day out like this guy, even if he does have some rough edges.

Joe Posnanski (NBC Sports): 1. Trout, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson

I voted for Mike Trout first, Miguel Cabrera second. I should say that, in my opinion, the MVP should be player who had the best season so other factors — such as how well the team played, which team was in contention, who played in more important games in September — do not factor into my decision. Cabrera had a fantastic offensive season and led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage for the first time. I think he’s the best hitter in the game. But you know, Trout is an amazing hitter himself. And when you take into account the rest — defense, baserunning, the various contextual differences of their ballparks — it seemed pretty clear to me that Trout had the better season.

Jeff Fletcher (Orange County Register): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis

I was a supporter of Trout over Cabrera last year, but this year I felt like the offensive gap was even wider, too big for Trout to overcome with his advantages defensively and on the bases. Also, I was impressed by Cabrera’s 1.311 OPS with runners in scoring position. (Trout’s was .993.) Regardless of the different number of opportunities each had, that’s a big gap in production at the times when games are won. While I don’t believe “clutch performance” is a skill or predictive, the MVP is about what you did, not what you can do again.

Jon Morosi (FOX Sports): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis

I’m very sympathetic toward the argument that Trout shouldn’t be penalized for the fact that his team had a losing record. But I don’t see this vote as penalizing Trout, so to speak. This is more rewarding Cabrera for what he did. He put together one of the best offensive seasons we’ve seen in generations, he did it while playing hurt for the past two months, and he was the difference in his team winning the division. To me, that’s what “most valuable” means.

John Hickey (Oakland Tribune): 1. Donaldson, 2. Cabrera, 3. Davis (Trout 4th)

To me, the key part of the award is “Valuable.” It’s not Most Outstanding Player, it’s not Player of the Year, in which case(s) Trout and Cabrera would dead heat. Both were terrific. As good as Trout was, the Angels finished 18 games out. There’s not much value in finishing third. Cabrera’s value was that the Tigers won their division. My first place vote went to the A’s Josh Donaldson, even over Cabrera, because Cabrera was surrounded by a much superior lineup than was Donaldson. Such was Donaldson’s value, in my mind, that without him Oakland would have been a middle-of-the-road finisher. Donaldson wasn’t the best player. He was the most valuable.

Wallace Matthews (ESPNNewYork.com): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Max Scherzer

As long as the word “valuable” remains in the name of the award, I’m always going to factor in how well a player’s team performed and how integral the player was to that performance. Both Cabrera and Trout had outstanding seasons, but you could make the argument that the Angels could just as easily have finished 18 games out without Trout in the lineup. Cabrera, on the other hand, played for a divison winner that relies heavily on his offensive contributions. And even if you want to go strictly by the numbers, with the value factor removed, Cabrera had better numbers in just about every category with the exception of runs and walks. So really, it wasn’t that tough a call for me.

Chad Jennings (Journal News): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis

Oddly enough, I think I would have voted for Trout last year. This year, I was simply overwhelmed by Cabrera’s offensive production. In my mind, the most important thing a position player does is hit, and Cabrera is the game’s best hitter coming off a remarkably productive year. Whether his hitting outweighs his lack of speed and his defensive struggles is hard to say. I believe it does. I also put less emphasis on his defense because he’s clearly playing out of position, and doing so strictly because it makes the Tigers better. The fact he played hurt and helped keep the Tigers in the division lead played some part in my decision, but a relatively small part. Ultimately, I’m glad my vote isn’t the only one that counts. I can’t pretend I have this figured out. I simply have an opinion. I’m skeptical of defensive metrics, and although I give the WAR stat significant consideration, I think it’s flawed and can’t be the end of the discussion. I guess the decision of Cabrera vs. Trout depends on what you value and how you view the award. I don’t think there’s a slam-dunk choice one way or the other.

Jose de Jesus Ortiz (Houston Chronicle): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Donaldson

I weighed the stats and seriously considered Trout at the top of my ballot. I used analytics for the first time since I’ve voted, but I also added extra points for playing on a playoff team. In that process, Cabrera barely edged out Trout on my ballot.

Tom Verducci (SI.com): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis

Mike Trout had such an amazing season it took another historic one to be considered a bit better. Miguel Cabrera’s overall and clutch hitting numbers were too good to deny. He became the first right-handed hitter to win the MLB slash triple crown (batting, on base, slugging) since World War II. 

Bill Ballou (Worcester Telegram & Gazette): 1. Davis, 2. Cabrera, 3. Donaldson (Trout 7th)

I am a strict constructionist re: “valuable”. If the award were Player of the Year, Trout would get my vote. I’m of the school that in order to have “value” you have to help your team be good, at least to the point of contending. The Angels didn’t truly contend. To fully develop that logic, players from non-contenders should not be listed on the  ballot at all, but the BBWAA insists that we fill out all 10 slots, so I did, even though I did not think there were 10 worthy candidates from contending teams.

Lynn Henning (Detroit News): 1. Cabrera, 2. Trout, 3. Davis

My choice was weighted by the division title, and 93 victories, and by Cabrera’s unswerving importance to a team’s playoff presence. He is the best hitter in baseball. He plays a critical position. But the transcendent value of his bat makes him, for me, the MVP. Trout is the best player in the league. Cabrera was, in 2013, in my view, the most valuable player. 

Alden

16 Comments

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Bill Ballou is a moron, he said the MVP should not be on the ballot….yet he put Davis 1st, who was not a contending team

*he said players who are not on contenders shouldnt even be on the ballot

sorry, didnt see an edit button

uh davis didn’t play for the Orioles who were in the NLDS? A far cry from not making the playoffs.

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Tigers fan here – I wish Cabby had some of the skills Trout did – but I still think he is slightly more valuable than Trout. WAR isn’t perfect, Trout didn’t get hurt and the LAA didn’t make the playoffs are some of the reasons why I felt Cabby edged out Trout.

I can’t stand all these people saying that getting hurt makes a player more valuable. It doesn’t make sense unless getting hurt makes a player perform better than when healthy. It seems that getting hurt is a bad thing for every player except Cabrera, who for some reason becomes more valuable to voters because he doesn’t play as much, hit as well, field as well. Wait that’s not more valuable, that’s less. What is wrong with people. Yes it’s impressive that he did so well dispite an injury. But wondering how good Cabrera could of been without an injury is pointless, because it didn’t happen.

If UGA wins, the MVP will almost assduerly be Murray as it will take a mistake-free game and some big plays on offense. Bama is harder to pick an MVP for, so I would guess McCarron solely because he is the QB, but Nico Johnson or Dee Milliner could easily prove to be the difference. The UGA defense is more loaded with talent (J.Jones, A. Ogletree, B. Rambo, etc.) while Alabama is more of a team defense that’s biggest advantage is the team unity.Final Score from my head/wallet: 24-17 BamaFinal Score prediction from my heart: 27-20 UGAGo Dawgs!!!

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I wonder what would happen if we stopped reading these reporters articles? Do you think they would still have a job? I would suggest that all these reporters pull out a dictionary and look up the word ‘valuable’. It has nothing to do with being on a contending team, or just offense Susan Slusser! Its an overall performance. Yes Miggy was hurt, but Trout had greater things to overcome, like an offense that didn’t perform. He had no protection around him in the lineup = wash. Yet Trout still had the numbers he had. Finally he is far and above a better defensive player which everyone agrees on which should give him the edge over Cabrera. Rosenthal had it right, what does Trout have to do to win this award? You don’t see Cabrera being compared to past greats like Mantle, and Mays, just to name a few. All I can hope for is that all you reporters wise the heck up, when the time comes, and put Trout in the Hall on the first ballot

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Not a Angels fan, but quite simply, Mike Trout is the best player all around player that I have ever seen, and I have been a fan of MLB since 1973.

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Yes, I’m a Tigers fan, and yes, I believe Trout is the best all around player, but ‘valuable player’? Without Miggy’s bat would Detroit have won the Central, maybe not, and without Trout would it have made any difference for the Angles being so far out of contention? I watched almost every game the Tigers played last year and except for the time Miggy was playing hurt, he did a serviceable job at 3rd. He has a great arm and handled a position he wouldn’t [probably shouldn't] have been playing if not for Fielder.

As mentioned above Trout is compared to Mantle and Mays, and it got me thinking, the reason you don’t hear a ‘comparison’ with Miggy is because it would be like comparing Ruth to, well, Ruth, or any other all-time great to themselves. Miggy will be known as one of the all-time great hitters. Every time I watch him come to bat I feel like I am watching history made. Detroit is a much better team with him, he hits, and hits when the game is on the line. The first right handed batter since WWII to win the ‘triple crown’ batting, on-base, slugging, a clutch hitter. The best all around hitter in baseball, on a team that capitalised on that value.

I look at value from the perspective of a GM, not a Manager. GM thinks, if that player was on our team, our team would benefit the most. Manager thinks, If he wasn’t on my team we wouldn’t of won enough games to make the playoffs. GM perspective makes the most sense to me because the award is for an individual, and why should one player suffer because of poorer company?

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