What does it mean to be the most valuable player? I believe it’s simple. To be the most valuable player means to give your team the best shot at winning day in and day out. Does it mean the best player on a winning team? No. The criteria for the Major League MVP award states that the most valuable player takes that first step onto the field everyday, and makes best use of his talents, and consistently gives his team a shot at winning. That is why I fully believe Mike Trout is fully deservingly of his second MVP award.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted Mike Trout MVP of the American League on Thursday. I could go on and on with ridiculous Trout facts regarding his first five seasons, but what it boils down to is that Trout has been the best player in baseball since his first full season. In 2016 he slashed .315/.441/.550 with 29 homers, 100 RBI, 123 runs scored and 30 stolen bases.
He led the world in WAR yet again, with a 10.55, a whole point higher than the runner-up, Mookie Betts. Mike Trout was the most valuable player in baseball. Why should excelling for a good team be any more important than excelling for a bad one?
It shouldn’t. Trout’s value did not diminish, even long after the Angels were out of contention. He took the field everyday with one thing on his mind, winning. And that’s what he did every game by giving his all and doing everything possible to allow his team to win the game.
Trout’s “all” was far better than any other player in baseball, does the value of the rest of the team affect Trout’s? I don’t think so. Put Mike Trout on any other team and he will do what he does everyday. He’ll go out there and hit 30 plus homers, knock in 100 runs, steal 30 bases, make ridiculous catches in center, and everything else that makes him the greatest player in the game.
Mike Trout is the most valuable player in baseball, the success of his team does not portray that, nor should it be weighed so heavily in the voting for MVP.
Yet every year, the success of a candidate’s’ team immediately rules out a player’s chances at winning the award. In the last 23 seasons, the MVP award was given to a player from a playoff team 22 times. It’s based off of the logic, “how can a player be most valuable if his team is ten games out of playoff contention?”
The point of baseball is to win games. 74 wins or 98 wins, it doesn’t matter. Wins are wins. Mookie Betts did not single handedly win the Red Sox 19 more games than Trout won for the Angels. Baseball is a team sport, one player cannot win a game on his own. That being said, that one player who gives his team the best chance to win every day deserves the title “most valuable.” That player was Mike Trout.
I believe Trout has been the most valuable player in the American League in each of the last five seasons. Each season he sat in front of a camera at his childhood home in New Jersey, and waited for the analysts on MLB Network to announce who had won the AL MVP award. Before Thursday, his name was called just once in 2014, arguably his worst season.
Now Trout’s “worst season” is far better than the average guy’s best season, but Trout won the award because the Angels won the division that year. The Angels finished fourth in the AL West in 2016, yet the members of the BBWAA got the decision right, and gave the award to the most valuable player in the American League.
If there’s anything to take from this year’s decision, or the snubs that Mike Trout received in the past five, is that there is something wrong with what goes into the voting for these awards. In order for them to not lose their legitimacy, everyone needs to be on the same page.
This means a finer definition of what “most valuable” means. One thing is for sure in my mind, and that’s the fact that Mike Trout is deserving of his second MVP award for his 2016 campaign.