Triple Crown or Trout? AL MVP debate a hot topic

Associated Press Modified: October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm •  Published: October 4, 2012
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"The Triple Crown is obviously a historic achievement, but whether Cabrera gets it or not shouldn't impact his standing in the MVP race," Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, who has an AL MVP vote, said early this week.

"The fact that he's led the Tigers to the postseason with a monster September should make him a slight favorite over Trout, though Trout will certainly still have plenty of support for his incredible year. I think Detroit's late-season surge will be a bigger factor if Cabrera wins the MVP than his run at the Triple Crown."

Trout's team made a second-half charge but missed the playoffs and finished third in the AL West. Still, the Angels' final record was one game better than Detroit's.

And while Cabrera merits credit for leading his club to the playoffs, it seems unfair to punish Trout for simply playing in a tougher division.

That may not matter to voters, though.

Setting aside the strike-shortened season of 1994 when the postseason was canceled, the only time in the last 20 years that the AL MVP didn't come from a playoff team was 2003, when Alex Rodriguez won with the last-place Texas Rangers.

The trend hasn't been as consistent in the National League, but the point remains valid.

What's most amazing is this: After fans waited 45 years to see a Triple Crown winner, there's a legitimate argument about whether that player deserves the MVP award — even though Cabrera all but carried his team into the playoffs.

Never imagined that could happen.

That's how good Trout has been. And that's how far sabermetrics have come.

"I don't know, man. It's a good race," Cabrera said.

Expect him to win when balloting is announced in November. But the pick here is Trout, by a tiny sliver. He does everything well, no flaws in his game.

What's more valuable than that?

___

A look at the other big awards:

NL MVP: Worthy contenders include Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun, last year's winner. The nod goes to Giants catcher and NL batting champion Buster Posey, who turned it on in the second half with All-Star teammate Melky Cabrera suspended for a positive drug test.

AL Cy Young: Another close call. This one goes to Tampa Bay lefty David Price, who barely beats out reigning MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander in part because of the stiffer competition Price faces in the AL East. Rays closer Fernando Rodney is third.

NL Cy Young: One more milestone in the feel-good story that is R.A. Dickey's winding road to stardom with the New York Mets. Dickey becomes the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award, a thrill he would share with all his ol' mentors: Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough and the rest. Nationals ace Gio Gonzalez comes in second and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel third.

AL Rookie of the Year: If not for Trout, this would be an interesting race featuring Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics and Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers. Trout is a runaway, though.

NL Rookie of the Year: It's not just hype. A big September carries teenage phenom Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals past Arizona pitcher Wade Miley and Cincinnati slugger Todd Frazier.

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin in Oakland edges Baltimore's Buck Showalter. Both did an incredible job.

NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals.

___

AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Dave Skretta contributed to this report.



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