Mike Trout is going to be the American League MVP. Please stop pretending otherwise. It is really annoying.
If you disagree with that statement, then clearly you don't belong to the classification of "logical people." In which case, this article is for you! And that, frankly, is kind of annoying. This really shouldn't be that hard, but some of you are trying to make it that way.
For example, there has been a minor groundswell in the last few weeks to inject Adrian Beltre into the AL MVP conversation. Now, Beltre has been having a very good season and has been red hot of late. One could certainly make the case that he is the MVP of the Rangers, but of the league? Not so much. In fact, his best argument is that he is the best player on the best team in baseball. That is, well, something, but it doesn't make him the best player in the league, not when his OPS+ is over 40 points below that of Mike Trout.
At least there appears to be some shred of rationale behind the Beltre campaign. Another recent name tossed out there is Robinson Cano, because there has to be a Yankee in the conversation, right? And there is people who make a case for Derek Jeter, I... I can't even... I just-
Anyway, if you really want to try and argue for someone to rival Trout for the award, the only person I would even consider listening on is Miguel Cabrera. His slash line of .326/.391/.587 is nearly identical to that of Trout at .328/.393/.570. If that is as deeply as you care to look into it, and sadly some BBWAA writers might not even look that far, I can see the case for Miggy. It just means willfully ignoring Trout's gigantic contributions as a baserunner. It also means totally overlooking the defensive contributions of those players. The gap between Trout's superlative center field defense and Cabrera's clanktastic glove at third is exceeded only by the Laurentian Abyss in size.
The most frustrating aspect of all of this is that there really shouldn't even be a need to compare Trout to anyone else. His accomplishments stand out on their own merit. I know WAR isn't everyone's thing, but Trout currently owns a 10.2 rWAR. He's the first player to break the 10-threshold since Barry Bonds and is only one of a handful of position players to post a rWAR that high since they started allowing non-white people to play in MLB.
OK, fine, you say WAR is flawed because of the inconsistencies in defensive valuation. Fair enough, I'll entertain that argument and counter with Trout having an OWAR (that's just offense) of 7.5 which is a full win above the highest rWAR (that INCLUDES defense) of any other position player in the majors. Look at just about any other offensive leaderboard, be it for an old-school stat or a newfangled advanced stat, and Trout is near the top if not all the way at the top.
Oh, and I still haven't even mentioned that he has accomplished all this despite not being called up until a month into the season through no fault of his own. I know Jim Leyland somehow thinks that is an actual drawback to Trout's candidacy, but he is hardly impartial.
You will also notice that I haven't invoked Trout's age yet either. That's because it really shouldn't factor into the MVP decision even though his rare youth certainly does raise the degree of difficulty on what he has done. It only matters to some of the more prosaic MVP voters who care less about actual performance and more about who has the best narrative. Now, how an incredibly likeable, marketable 20-year old having a staggeringly awesome season and pulling a contending team out of their tailspin of a start to the season isn't the best narrative out there, I will never know. He's not only the best player but he is also the best story... you know, if that is your thing.
I get that writers want to create narratives and get attention with the award races. As great as Trout's season and story are, nothing is more boring to a writer than "it is a foregone conclusion." It just is a really bad reason to actually cast your vote for someone else.
If there is one real looming threat to Trout's candidacy it is that the Angels might not make the playoffs. Right or wrong, some writers just can't bring themselves to vote for a player on a non-contender unless he is having a season for the ages (which Trout is, but let's not get bogged down in the details). This is where arguments get downright illogical. This late in the season it is clear that the Angels are going to be in the thick of the playoff race until the very end. If they miss the playoffs, it will only be by a game or two or three. But then look at Detroit and Cabrera. The Tigers have a great shot at winning their division, but they are currently five games back of the second Wild Card spot, meaning that in all likelihood the Tigers will make the playoffs but have a worse record than the Angels who miss the playoffs. By that logic, Cabrera gets the MVP edge essentially because he plays in a lousy division. Bravo, voters, bravo.
So, like I said, stop it, America. Just admit that Trout is the AL MVP and move one on.
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So now you've listed and are aware of all the reasons Trout won't win it if the Angels don't make the playoffs (when, really). So you won't be shocked when he doesn't win it. Neither will Cabrera since the Tigers won't be there, either. Look for Adam Jones or whoever instead. However, I'd hate to think very long on where the Angels would be without Trout. Looking up at the Mariners, no doubt. The award, however, is rarely given to the guy who single-handedly pulls his team into third place.