Miguel Cabrera is having an outstanding season for the Tigers. It’s the type of season we have come to expect from the 29-year-old over his 13-year career. Cabrera has 29 homers to go along with 95 RBI. His batting average is an impressive .322 and his on-base percentage is a solid .384. There is still a lot of baseball left to be played, but Cabrera is a definite American League MVP contender. The only problem is a 21-year-old named Mike Trout could stand in his way.
As his manager, Jim Leyland is obviously pulling for Cabrera to win the award. However, the logic he used to support his third baseman during an interview with WXYT 97.1 Radio in Detroit on Thursday was puzzling.
“I mean this respectfully,” Leyland said according to ESPN.com. “I don’t mean this disrespectfully — I think what could be a little problem for Miggy is in my opinion Miggy is the MVP. Now we have time left, if the voting was today Miggy is the MVP. However, he could run into one of the wonder boy stories. You know, young kid, 20 years old. Everyone gets excited about that. Everybody loves that, has a nice ring to it.”
It gets better. Trout’s batting average of .345 places him atop the AL ahead of Cabrera, who is in second with an average that’s more than 20 points lower. Despite spending a good portion of the first month of the season in the minors, Trout is leading the AL in runs scored (87) and stolen bases (36). He also has an outstanding on-base percentage of .409 and has added 20 homers and 60 RBI. In the field, Trout has made amazing catches like this one and been the best defensive outfielders in the game.
While Leyland acknowledged that those numbers are impressive and called Trout an “unbelievable” player, he said Miggy deserves the award because he has done it longer.
“Trout is one of the best young players I’ve ever seen,” he said. “But at the same time, I think when you do it over a period of time — a little bit longer — I think that should have something to say about it. I think the numbers that Miggy has had over his career, and he’s putting up unbelievable numbers again this year, I think that should be a part of it.”
Since when did the MVP become a career achievement award? Ron Washington may be right that is is premature to compare Trout to Willie Mays, but Leyland’s reasoning makes absolutely no sense. Trout is having the best all-around season of any player in the AL and perhaps all of baseball. His age and tenure in the league have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he is an MVP candidate.
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