Mike Trout’s worst MVP finish in a full season came in 2017. He finished fourth, and even that was only because he was injured. From 2012 to 2016, Trout either won the award or finished second.
Trout missed a few games with injury again this year. His bWAR is still over 10, he leads all of baseball in OPS and he is fourth in batting average in the American League. He has stolen 24 bases, being caught just twice. He has 122 walks (which, of course, leads baseball).
Trout’s career line is similar to Willie Mays, who has a claim as the greatest baseball player of all time. The thing is, Trout actually edges ahead of Mays in a few categories. Sure, that includes a few quieter years in Mays’ late thirties, but it’s quite a reflection on Trout. He is already a lock for the Hall of Fame. He is already one of the all-time greats. Yet, somehow, he’s underappreciated.
Missing out again
In 2018, just like 2012, 2013 and 2015, Trout is unlikely to win MVP. Mookie Betts has had an historically great campaign, making him the strong favourite for the award. Fair enough, really, given Boston’s brilliance and just how good Betts has been (also has WAR over 10 and OPS over 1). Betts is one of baseball’s stars; a true five-tool stud playing in a big market.
Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Rogers Hornsby are the only hitters in MLB history with more 10 WAR seasons than Mike Trout. -AJE
— High Heat Stats (@HighHeatStats) September 26, 2018
While the Angels’ centre fielder has been brilliant this year, the 2018 campaign has been no freak for him. He continues to improve, but there’s no doubt that this is sustainable. All being fair, it takes a freak of a season to beat him to MVP, and that has been the case throughout his Major League career.
The American League MVP has been, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, a question of who can be better than Trout. He is the benchmark for greatness. He is, perhaps, so great, that it is normalised, much like LeBron James being the best player in the NBA or Lionel Messi being the best footballer on the planet. Having an OBP above .400, slugging way over .500 and stealing 20 or so bases is standard for Trout. So standard, in fact, it can be forgotten about, it is almost not news that Trout’s slash line is that ludicrously good.
Give Trout the hardware he deserves
Awards are no necessity for greatness, of course, but the fact that Trout will go into his age-27 season with just two Most Valuable Player awards is bordering on remarkable. Barring some freak occurrence that stops him playing 10 full seasons, Trout will be a first ballot, possibly unanimous Hall of Famer. Who knows how much hardware he will have by then. What is amazing, though, is that he could quite reasonably have won six MVPs in his first seven seasons in the league.
Mike Trout’s career in an iPhone screenshot pic.twitter.com/tpg8hgxI7p
— harpergordek (@harpergordek) September 20, 2018
It’s hard to complain about Betts winning it this year, just as it was with Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013 and Josh Donaldson in 2015. Let’s not forget about the sport’s greatest, though. Others need a career year to even contend for MVP with Trout, and he’s standing the test of time.
In a few years from now, Trout might be the best player ever. Just like LeBron James, that deserves votes. Let’s hope that a struggling Angels organisation does not leave Trout’s trophy cabinet barer than it should be.