I didn't even get an invitation. Have a whole storage shed filled with pitchforks and torches -- heck, I invented this beauty -- but no one thought to ask me along. There was an outrage party about the American League MVP Award again this year. Man, that was a good insurrection last year. Lots of fun. Absolutely zero minds changed. Tons of broken store windows. But I completely missed this year's outrage because no one invited me.
Or, hold on, maybe I forgot. Yeah, now I remember. I got the invitation to the outrage party back in July or August, when it was clear Miguel Cabrera was going to win the AL MVP again. I thought about it for several seconds before going for the Crate & Barrel catalog, and I never went back.
I just can't care about Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera this time. My peace with the vote was made months ago. Maybe even a year ago. But whereas last year I was eager, so eager, to write column after column about those silly voters and their silly votes, this year, I preferred to write about Randy Messenger. Which I did. Because it was far more interesting than another Trout/Cabrera debate.
I've jotted down some reasons for the troutpathy. Maybe some of them will sound familiar. Maybe you'll spit on the screen and complain about me selling out. But here's why I don't care nearly as much as 2012:
Cabrera was better this year
Better than he was last year, that is. One of the most offensive parts of Cabrera's award last year, pun certainly intended, was the idea of the Triple Crown. As in, anyone who wins the Triple Crown is the MVP, and there's no need for debate. "Of course he's the most valuable. Josh Hamilton didn't hit two more home runs, so that means Cabrera's more valuable than anyone else. What part of that don't you understand?"
All the while, Cabrera's 2012 was actually a tick worse than his previous two seasons. A year after lapping the field with a .448 OBP, Cabrera had a .393 mark in 2012. Great, but not ethereal like the year before. Yet he jumped up from fifth in MVP voting to first because no one else in the AL had more homers? Seems silly.
This season might have been the best of Cabrera's career. It might have been the best season in the career of one of the best hitters to ever live. Getting mad at that kind of season winning awards is like the People's Front of Judea complaining about the verbiage on the third paragraph on the 15th page of the Judean People's Front's manifesto. It's probably not worth the outrage. Cabrera is kind of great, you know.
Trout's defensive numbers
Part of the Troutopia last year was related to the magic of him being the perfect all-around player. His numbers were off the charts in every category. He was the perfect player, ergo he was, to some, the most valuable. This year, his defensive numbers were off.
Now, he was a better, more patient hitter, so that made up for a lot of that. Another thing that made up for the lackluster defensive numbers is that he's still the perfect player, dammit. Was I appealing to those same numbers last year? So sorry about that. Turns out those defensive stats are filthy liars.
But without them, the perfect player becomes the very-nearly-perfect player. That doesn't temper all of the enthusiasm. Just that last five percent.
Numb to the needs-to-be-on-a-contender argument
Until further notice, MVPs are won by players on contending teams. Here's a column from the guy who listed Trout seventh on his ballot:
If the award were Player of the Year, Mike Trout probably would be the winner. As an all-around player, Trout's abilities are unsurpassed. He is both sides of the offense-defense equation. However, how valuable could he have been for a team that is going to finish well out of contention? The Angels could have missed the playoffs without him.
How are you going to argue with that? You're arguing over semantics and the value of a win to a bad team. You're arguing over the definition of "feel-good movie" or "ideal burrito." Yeah, I think any definition of "valuable" other than "helps his team win more games" is silly. But there are so, so many people who think the other way. And they aren't changing their minds.
To that end, I'm pretty sure Trout would have won if he were on a winning team. Last year, no chance, mostly because of the Triple Crown. This year? Probably would have won it. And I'm numb to that silly argument. It comes up every year, and it makes sense to a plurality of voters. Numb.
I didn't watch Trout every day
Because if I did, I'm sure I'd be livid. But I'm a tourist. A stats tourist. I watched Trout play a few times this year, and he was fantastic, as expected. My admiration of him, though, mostly comes by proxy through Baseball-Reference.com and select videos on MLB.com.
Angels fans are right to care. They're watching one of the greatest stretches in baseball history, and it's not being recognized.
On the flip side, Tigers fans watched Miguel Cabrera everyday, and this is their reaction to people complaining:
That might be a tiger drinking tears, or it might be a nyennn nyennnn nyennnnnn face, or … whatever you do, don't stare at it too long. But they're giddy because they got to watch Miguel Cabrera every day, and it was amazing. Really, over a 162-game season, the difference between Cabrera and Trout is almost imperceptible. They're both being incredible at baseball just about the entire time.
But if I watched Trout everyday, man, I'd be ticked. I didn't, so I have the luxury of apathy.
THE SAME DAMNED ARGUMENTS
Seriously. Defense position hitting baserunning but position and defense and the position but the hitting and look but baserunning and defense with every hitting baserunning defense position position defense.
Trout got one fewer first-place vote this year, so I'm not going to pretend that we're heading toward an age of enlightenment, and that one day the best players will win the awards. This wasn't a step back, but it was most certainly running in place.
But I can't yell into my glove compartment about why I disagree again. Because that's what it feels like I'm doing. Just opening the glove box and talking to the maps. That's how productive it feels. Can't do it this year. I gave at the office.
I would have voted for Trout. I respect Cabrera as an awesome player. Those two sentences are all the outrage I can muster up.