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The A.L. MVP and the Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera debate that wasn't

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Say, let's take a spin around the Internet and see what's going on in the world of baseball.


Oh, come on. This is a crappy sequel to a crappy movie. Actually, it's more like an excellent sequel to an incredible movie that got spoiled by too much Oscar hype. But I still wasn't expecting to deal with this again. What are the odds?

There is a wrinkle. Here are the defensive metrics for both:

Year Tm dWAR
2013 LAA -1.4

Year Tm dWAR
2013 DET -0.6

It's just like we always said. If only Mike Trout weren't such a liability in the field, he might be as good as Miguel Cabrera. I remember all those columns we wrote last year on that theme, and how excited we all were when Cabrera won the MVP. Should have been there. Fun times.

But the larger point is that Trout and Cabrera are back at it again. The Internet fistfights from last year aren't going away, and we're back to debating the comparative worth of both.They're both tremendously talented, enough to lap the competition. Again.

Before we go on, it should be noted that I trust those defensive statistics as much as I trusted Yuniesky Betancourt's .848 OPS at the end of April. The vagaries of defensive samples are my biggest problem with WAR, even if it's a supremely useful shorthand for how a player's season went. Mike Trout isn't robbing a home run per week. But he damned sure isn't a liability in left field.

It's kind of a tough crowd in left this year, with Alejandro De Aza, Alex Gordon, Michael Brantley, and Yoenis Cespedes all plying their trade out there. It's not the Adam Dunn/Pat Burrell crew we're used to, though Raul Ibañez is still out there.


Yup. Still, even if the overall state of left-field defense in the AL is better than usual, ain't no way Trout is a liability.

That written, I'm willing to re-explore the idea that Cabrera's hitting makes up for Trout's derring-do on the bases and in the field. That the two should be compared and contrasted, and that the sequel should be just as compelling as the original. I'm in. I'm stupid, and I don't like to think about new things. I have notebooks full of Trout/Cabrera comparisons. This'll be fun.

Except there's a big difference with this year's MVP race. Last year, Trout was a phenomenon, the Yasiel Puig of his generation. He had buzz (and a much better defensive rank, as it stands), and while we like to pretend the BBWAA is a monolithic organization, created to promote fuddy-duddyism in all its forms, there were enough forward-thinking folks to make it a debate. Cabrera won the Triple Crown, and Trout still had enough buzz to make a debate. That's how good Trout's year was.

This year? More of the same. Turns out that Mike Trout is better than almost all of his peers at baseball. And how. There isn't a lot of difference between this year and last, other than the defensive metrics. Which ... I kinda appreciate, but I reserve the right to throw them out when they don't support my position. Even if you don't throw them out, it's still a taut race. Point-one WARs between them, as the kids say.

And there's no way Trout has a chance.

Last year, there was the hype, the freshness. This year, there's the idea that Trout is good at baseball. That's something we're quite used to by now. Cabrera is also good at baseball. But there's a difference between them: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez are effective at preventing runs. Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, and Jerome Williams have not been.

In the end, the greatest sequel to the greatest movie will be a total flop. We're into the MVPOACT debate now, and if you're not the Most Valuable Player on a Contending Team, you're not in the debate. I'd love to argue about Cabrera v. Trout some more. But Joe Blanton ruined it all.

Thanks, Joe Blanton.


Thanks a lot.

There will be no Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera sequel, even if there should be. Trout team bad, Cabrera team good. Hurp hurp hurp, that's the end of the debate. But the worst part is that it's a better debate than last year. Cabrera has grown into third base, and Trout's a little less free to roam in left.  Also, Cabrera is raking even more than when he won the Triple Crown, and Trout is just doing the same boring thing he did last year. It should have been fun.

But the tyranny of the MVPOACT rules all. Unless Trout hits even more -- hard to do -- this is the sequel that never was.