You. Me. Everybody.
No, seriously, no matter who is named the American League’s Most Valuable player for the 2013 when the final ballot is announced in November, the real winner is everyone.
The 2013 AL MVP news cycle looks like it will follow the 2012 script very closely. Traditionalists will trump Miguel Cabrera‘s overwhelming offensive numbers and the quality of his playoff-bound team. More statistically minded fans and writers lean towards Mike Trout for his domination of the One True Counting Stat category – Wins Above Replacement.
The outcome is in doubt. Miguel Cabrera will win going away thanks to his absurd offensive numbers, dwarfing those of this 2012 Triple Crown and MVP season. Mike Trout will probably take second ahead of Chris Davis due to the sheer volume of coverage, much of which distracts from his back-of-the-baseball card numbers which are crazy on their own.
The Internet was rife with AL MVP think pieces yesterday. Jon Heyman picked away at WAR as is his wont, questioning the defensive metrics which inflate the seasonal value of defense-first players above those of traditional offensive stars. David Schoenfield argued that Cabrera’s advantage in RBI is much harder for voters to get over than their gulf in WAR (which, even if you chop out the defensive component, Trout still leads Cabrera.)
In response to Heyman, Joe Posnanski made a case for including “reached on error” as hits for Mike Trout, which boosts his slash line nicely and makes the offense-based argument a little closer.
It’s all interesting stuff on a slow Monday afternoon (or Tuesday morning) but it doesn’t alter the course of this vote: Miguel Cabrera will win. And that’s fine.
Miguel Cabrera’s season HAS been historic and worthy of MVP discussion. That his team has four better hitters than the next best guy on the Angels or that the AL MVP will have played with three straight Cy Young winners doesn’t matter. It really, really doesn’t.
Tigers fans are winners for getting to watch the best hitter in baseball as part of one of the three best teams in baseball all season long. Nice as this personal hardware might be, Tigers fans would gladly trade Cabrera’s inevitable MVP trophy for a World Series MVP in a heartbeat.
Angels fans are winners because they get to watch the best player in baseball finish two of the best personal seasons in baseball history by a player of his age. They get to look forward to at least four more and, by the grace of Moreno, many more beyond that. They also get to deepen the groove in their prodigious shoulder chips, a key trait of many (but not all) Angels fans.
Fans at large get to drink the whole spectacle in, watching Trout and Cabrera lay waste to the record books in the most entertaining fashion imaginable. With MLB.tv, it all happens before your eyes. While carving out a good arguing perch, make sure you take a second to enjoy the view of these great players (and don’t forget to include Chris Davis’ cartoonishly easy power in that scope.)
The columnists and TV bickerers get free content by the yard – the Hot Sprots Takes cup overflows. Set one talking head on the other and argue until your face is blue or it is time for a commercial break, whichever comes first. Break down the MVP race in a compelling way, rake in the page views. Move the “what does valuable mean?” goalposts and make a case for Mariano Rivera, who will end up with more votes Josh Donaldson, it says here.
It’s fun, if you let it be fun. Fun to watch and fun to argue about in the bar or on the golf course or on twitter. Fun it you allow it to be fun, frustrating if you let it get under your skin.
Don’t let it get under your skin. Embrace the reality (that Cabrera will win) and embrace the inevitability (there are no swing voters so you won’t change their minds, Brian Kenny) and embrace the difference. Embrace the enjoyment of watching these two generational talents go toe-to-toe for as long as their bodies allow it. For this we are very lucky. It doesn’t happen very often, don’t waste decamped high atop Intellectual Superiority Mountain. What a boring and lonely place that must be.
And the rest
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