Cabrera or Trout? One winner, no right answer - NBC Sports

Cabrera or Trout? One winner, no right answer
Tigers' third baseman was correct choice, but Angels' rookie would have been too
Reuters (2)
In 2012, Miguel Cabrera, left,ÿgave us a Triple Crown season we hadn't seen in 45 seasons. Mike Trout's power-speed-defense combination produced historic numbers, especially from a 20-year-old.
November 16, 2012, 3:11 pm

For every argument on the Cabrera side, there is an equally legitimate one for Trout.

There isn't a wrong answer here. Just two of the most amazing individual seasons we've ever seen, in divergent ways. But only one winner.

Cabrera gave us a Triple Crown season we hadn't seen in 45 seasons; so what if batting average isn't the revered statistical measure it used to be? Trout's power-speed-defense combination produced equally historic numbers, especially from a 20-year-old.

What Cabrera's decided advantage in both first-place votes (22-6) and total points (362-281) reiterates is: a) the murkiness involved in what constitutes an MVP, and b) left to subjectivity rather than strict guidelines, voters stuck with more-traditional measures, not all of which are statistical.

But please don't paint this strictly as a tradition-vs.-sabermetrics choice. Give those 28 voters - almost all of whom have given the last couple of decades to covering the sport - more credit than that.

Everybody embraces the new metrics and how they've advanced knowledge about a century-plus-old sport. But not everybody thinks it's right to base his MVP vote solely on statistics.

There can be no debate that Trout is the more-complete player than Cabrera. But the MVP isn't the Most Outstanding Five-Tool Talent award.

But don't paint this it as just a case of Triple Crown equals MVP, either, because the two don't always coincide. Just ask Ted Williams.

It's just not that simple.

Maybe some day, there will be no voting. Awards will be based purely on a pre-established set of statistical measures. Maybe MLB or SABR will start their own awards to co-exist with the ones given by the baseball writers.

Or maybe, advance a generation, let the BBWAA electorate evolve, and the Cabrera-Trout debate goes the other way. The BBWAA membership has changed dramatically in the last decade or so, as writers from internet-based operations and other countries have replaced those from traditional newspapers in press boxes around MLB.

But in this election, more value was placed in Cabrera's set of accomplishments, statistical and otherwise - than Trout's. And until the standards change, until a different set of voting guidelines are adopted, the electorate is reconfigured, this is the system in place. Right or wrong, this is how we do it.

And Cabrera's wide vote margin means he was the right choice, notwithstanding Trout's all-phases-of-the-game brilliance.

AL Manager of the Year
Talk about two perfect candidates. Lately, these managerial awards have morphed into a choice of whose team exceeded pre-season expectations most. Trouble is, this time there were two of those stories, each as unlikely as the other.

The A's, with the league's lowest payroll, and after trading away three key pitchers, steamrolling the two-time defending league-champion Texas Rangers down the stretch to win the West? Yeah, right.

And the Orioles, roster changing on an almost every-day basis to challenge the in-game genius that is Buck Showalter, going 29-9 in one-run games, 16-2 in extra innings and getting to the playoffs by finishing 24 games over .500 with only a +7 run differential?

The tough-but-correct call was Melvin and the A's for winning the division over the Rangers and everybody's pre-season darlings, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

NL Manager of the Year
How about ol' Davey Johnson? Success has followed him everywhere, confidence never has been a problem, and to his credit, he was making statistics-based lineup and in-game decisions way back before managers brought binders into dugouts. And at 69, he proved he's as plugged-in as ever, getting a very talented but young team to jump from 81 wins all the way to 98 and the NL's best record.

Johnson was the right call over Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy, who took their teams back to the post-season as many expected. The former had to rework his bullpen mid-stream, and survive without his superstar Joey Votto for a couple of months - not to mention a late-season health scare.

And the latter - arguably the game's best manager - turned in some of his best work, considering how he pieced together the closer situation in Brian Wilson's absence, the mid-season loss of Melky Cabrera and Tim Lincecum's fall from Cy Young-elite status. You'll just never hear Bochy self-promoting, but anybody who watched the Giants enough knows how good he is.

AL Cy Young Award
Justin Verlander's biggest problem in 2012 may have been that he wasn't as brilliant as he in 2011, when he won this award unanimously.

But there's more than enough evidence that says he should have won again. Verlander threw 27.1 innings more than David Price. He struck out 34 more hitters than Price. His WHIP was lower (1.057 to 1.10). He pitched six complete games to Price's two. He also won the WAR statistic by a sizable margin (7.6 to 6.4).

NL Cy Young Award
There was no better journeyman-to-success story this season than R.A. Dickey, but sentiment doesn't necessarily win Cy Young awards. Leading the league in innings pitched, complete games, strikeouts and shutouts, finishing second in ERA, and winning 20 games on a terrible team does.

No argument here with Dickey getting 27 of 32 first-place votes, despite there being a very deep field of legitimate candidates led by last year's winner Clayton Kershaw, and one of the most-dominating statistical seasons by a reliever from Craig Kimbrel.

AL Rookie of the Year
No debate here, with Trout going 28-for-28 in first-place votes for a perfect score of 140 points. He's the first unanimous rookie winner since Evan Longoria in 2008, and the youngest-ever AL rookie winner, too. Only 1984 NL winner Dwight Gooden was younger. Poor Yoenis Cespedes. His numbers were good enough to win this award in any other year. Just not this one. He did collect 19 of 28 second-place votes.

NL Rookie of the Year
Bryce Harper is the most-hyped prospect in a generation, yet in some respects, he's better than the hype. He wouldn't have won this award in August, when his batting average temporarily dipped into the .240s. But making adjustments on the fly as a 19-year-old, his .330/.400/.640 slash line after Aug. 31 made him the right choice over Wade Miley and Todd Frazier.


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