There is little debate about who the best player in the American League was in 2016. Yet there was much debate about how valuable said player was because the team he played on finished with a 74-88 record. You can’t give a player on a team that bad the MVP Award cried the pundits…or could you.
Soon there will be Mike Trout jokes to replace Chuck Norris jokes, because Mike Trout doesn’t care about his team’s record win the AL MVP Award. He doesn’t even know what it is like to finish 3rd in MVP voting yet. Sorry Bryce Harper, nice 2015 season but steadily and surely Mike Trout is ending any debate about who the better player is.
As announced by MLB and our own baseballguru, Kris Bryant continued his meteoric rise to the top of his profession with the NL MVP title to go along with his World Series victory in 2016. That a year after winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, the Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2014 and the top college player Golden Spikes Award in 2013. It seems surprising he didn’t win the Little League World Series Title in 2013 and unfair that he can’t get elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017. The system is holding him back!
(Random article worth the read: Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant played against each other in Little League)
Bryant’s future is bright as well, but Mike Trout has already been doing this for 5 seasons now. Five All Star selections, two 1st place MVP Awards and 3 second place finishes later, and you start to understand just what we have playing in front of our eyes just down the street from the Happiest Place on Earth. It is possible that some of Tinkerbell’s magic fairy dust have been permanently sprinkled onto Mike Trout’s bat, legs, arms, and glove.
Mike Trout was a first round draft pick of the Angels in 2009, but he was drafted 25th! With respect to Randal Grichuk who is a successful major league outfielder for the Cardinals, he was drafted directly above Mike Trout! The Padres drafted Donovan Tate with the third pick and he has never even been close to tasting the major leagues.
For years the MVP Award has been another bastion that the traditionalists hold onto in lieu of using statistics and sabermetrics to inform their decisions. First Felix Hernandez Cy Young Award in 2010 with a 13-12 record, the lowest number of wins for a Cy Young Award winner in history. The traditionalists say the MVP isn’t the best player award, it is the “most valuable” player award so a player that wins should come from a playoff team because it shows they carried their team on their shoulders to the playoffs.
Except now we have two wild card winners, now baseball continues to have more teams involved in the trade deadline than ever before, now we have farm systems rising up, rookies getting chances instead of waiting their turn, we have rookies starting the 10th inning in Game 7 of the World Series and the idea of value gets a little harder to define.
Mike Trout winning the 2016 AL MVP Award shows that the writers looked past their normal rule of contention in giving it to him. It also means they probably should have given it to him one of the other years he didn’t win to a guy like Miguel Cabrera whose team did make the playoffs. Will the trend continue?
On the NL side, it was pretty clear that Kris Bryant was the winner and it did also happen that his team won the World Series. Yet was Bryant that much more “valuable” to the Cubs than Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, or Grandpa David Rossy himself? Tough to say. He was clearly the best player in the National League, and his nearly unanimous win shows everyone could see it.
Mike Trout has 168 home runs in the major leagues and hasn’t yet turned 26. If he keeps up his pace of 34 home runs per season, it would take him another 17+ seasons to beat Barry Bonds career home run mark of 762. In 16 seasons though he could be challenging Babe Ruth – and that is just at his current pace. He would “only” be 41 at that point. By the way he is teammates with another guy – Albert Pujols – who is marching his own path towards history. Albert at 36 years old is fresh off a 31 home run season with 40 the year before, and currently sits at 9th or 5th on the career home runs, depending on if you count PED home runs or not. Pretty good role model.
Mike Trout is here to stay and impress us for a long time. I’m glad the BBWA voted for Trout this season and didn’t just vote for players whose team made the playoffs. We are watching one of the best baseball players of all time and I have a feeling he hasn’t even peaked yet.