Friday, November 15, 2013

Bill Ballou Doesn't Value Mike Trout

After Miguel Cabrera crushed Mike Trout in 2012 AL MVP voting, it was clear that Trout wouldn't stand a chance at winning an MVP unless his Angels were playoff bound. And while Trout got better in 2013, the Angels got worse. Trout led all of baseball in Wins Above Replacement by a healthy margin again, general awesomeness and questions about whether his neck is a neck or just more shoulder. But he was doomed to finish second in AL MVP voting behind Cabrera for a second straight year. And finish second he did.

Trout trailed Cabrera by over 100 points (385-282) in 2013, which was a bigger margin than 2012 (362-281) when Cabrera won the frigging Triple Crown. So what changed this year? Well, Trout cut his 21.8 K% to 19.0% while raising his 10.5 BB% to 15.4% and raked an impressive .323/.432/.557 slash. Cabrera hit .348/.442/.636 in 64 fewer plate appearances while playing a very different version of third base than Manny Machado played. I could further detail how Trout was the much more valuable player than Cabrera but the Tigers made the playoffs and the Angels did not. And isn't that the definition of value? How well the rest of your teammates play or how your team's roster was constructed by people independent of you? That's how the BBWAA slides the numbers on their abacuses.

Trout not winning the MVP was a foregone conclusion. By how much, now that's where it was going to get interesting. And, holy shit, Bill Ballou hates Mike Trout. Mr. Ballou was lucky enough to be given an AL MVP vote by the BBWAA for his work at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which I've been told is not a publication about Morse code and baby antelopes. Ballou, a member of the Boston chapter, had an interesting MVP ballot. Trout was listed on all 30 AL MVP ballots but managed to only reach seventh (7th!) on Ballou's punch card. Ballou (quick google search says he is not, indeed, Salvador Dali's pet ocelot) had Chris Davis, Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre and Dustin Pedroia ahead of Trout. Trout's 10.4 fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) was two full wins more valuable than NL MVP Andrew McCutchen's 8.2 fWAR and some bigger math number than Donaldson's second best AL mark of 7.7 fWAR.

Ballou wasn't the only offender. Trout also received three third place votes and one fourth and one fifth place vote. Ballou was just the most egregious relunctator to the Trout MVP party this year. His reasoning echos that of others of his ilk. From a Sep 22 article...

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 valuable could he be for a team that didn't make the playoffs? Oh, 10 full wins valuable. His value counts regardless of whether the rest of his team is any good. Gas is going to cost the same whether you put it into a Cadillac or a lawn mower. There is a value for it. Unfortunately for Trout, the Angels have been less Escalade than John Deere for the past two seasons. If you wanted to get seriously literal about the term Most Valuable Player, Trout would win in a landslide considering he made less than half a million compared to the $21 million Cabrera made. But that would be giving voters way too much to consider.

Ultimately, it's all going to be on Trout to make the players around him better. He'll never win those individual awards unless his teammates step it up. Jerks.

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