By Ross Newhan
I don't care whether you are a traditionalist or a sabermetric seamhead, the contest between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award was a virtual tossup, and it is not a crime, Angel fans and Trout supporters, that Cabrera won. I'm not going to go on and on about this, nor do I dispute that Trout's overall statistics, when including base stealing and his sensational defensive play (which can now be measured metrically), seem superior to those of the Detroit third baseman.
--Cabrera was the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown, leadng the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
--From April 28, when Trout played his first game with the Angels, Cabrera had a better batting average and slugging percentage, and their on-base percentage was basically even.
--Cabrera also had a better stretch and September than Trout, particularly power wise, helping lift the Tigers over the collapsing Chicago White Sox to a Central Division title while the Angels failed to reach the playoffs despite one more September win than the successful Tigers.
This is the way I look at it: In his first year, attempting to add the MVP to his Rookie of the Year Award, Trout ran into a historial roadblock in the form of a Triple Crown and a player who basically had a comparable season with the bat in his hands.
I know that may freak out the computer devotees--the WAR and OPS touters, those who would contend that it is simply wrong to eliminate Trout's defense and stolen base accomplishments as he rewrote the rookie record book--but this was strictly a pick-em contest, and, at 21, Trout's compensation could be that he'll win the next 15 MVP Awards, or at least the majority, he is easily that good.