Once again, Mike Trout, the best player in baseball, will not be winning the American League MVP award simply because the Los Angeles Angels weren’t a very good team. That’s a downright crime.
When going about winning an MVP award, there are a couple things you need to do before placing the hardware on your mantel. First, you need to be a pretty good baseball player. Finish near the top of the leaderboards in WAR, hit plenty of home runs and make a decent enough impact in the field.
Second, be the best player on your team. When a club has two players vying for MVP honors, votes tend to get split up between the two teammates. If you want to run away with the award, make sure that nobody wearing the same uniform as you makes it close.
Finally, you’ll need to be playing on a team that wins more games than it loses. To be safe, you’ll probably need to make the playoffs, but a winning record will often do the trick. While this fact may have nothing to do with you, it carries all the weight in the world in the minds of the BBWAA writers.
Mike Trout is a pretty good baseball player. He led all of baseball with a 10.6 bWAR, hit 29 home runs and will even rob a grand slam from time to time. It’s not very difficult to call Trout the best player on his team, as he’s easily the best player in the entire sport as well. He appears MVP worthy, but he hits a snag on the last bit of criteria to win the award.
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The Los Angeles Angels were not a very good baseball team this year. They went 74-88, scoring the sixth fewest runs in the AL while giving up the fourth most. After finishing 15 games out of a playoff spot, Los Angeles has a lot of work to do this offseason. According to the voters of the MVP award, this is a reflection on Trout and what he brings to the table as a baseball player.
The writers believe that in order to provide value, your team must be successful. Where would the Angels be without Mike Trout? If he really was worth nearly 11 wins like his bWAR indicates he was, then Los Angeles could have been picking in the top five when next year’s draft comes around. Even bad teams have players of value, and their record is in no way an indicator of individual players’ impacts.
Over the last five years, Trout has led the AL in bWAR every season. He won only one MVP over that span, in 2014 when the Angels made the playoffs. By his standards, that was even a down year for Trout. None of that mattered, however, as he was the best player on a good team.
This voting trend is not a new phenomenon. Want to know which players have posted a bWAR of at least 7.9 in five consecutive seasons and won no more than one MVP over that span? Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols, Honus Wagner, Wade Boggs and Mike Trout.
When the results of the AL MVP voting are announced tonight, don’t be surprised when you don’t hear Mike Trout’s name. Playing for a team that couldn’t even work its way into the Wild Card conversation, he was never going to have a chance.