In the American League, Trout and Cabrera are both great choices and would have crushed best-of-a-bad-year MVP winner Justin Verlander (the first pitcher to win the MVP in either league since 1992) last season. The hitting numbers point to Miggy, who has a .333/.396/.612 slash line with 40 home runs and 129 RBIs with 15 games to go in the season. A homer-happy finish by Cabrera, who's currently two longballs behind Josh Hamilton for the AL lead, could give him baseball's first Triple Crown since 1967. In the understatement of the column, that would probably merit an MVP award.
And yet... if Cabrera falls even one home run or batting average point short of the Triple Crown, it's hard to see him beating out the Angels' 20-year old phenom. Trout did spend most of April in the minors, yet he leads the AL in runs (118) and stolen bases (46). Factor in his Ken Griffey Jr.-esque fielding (check out this catch, or this one), and Trout's Wins Above Replacement Player (WAR) of 10.3 far outstrips Cabrera's 6.3 total. If it's true that wins are the most valuable asset a team can accumulate (and it is), then Trout has to win the MVP, because he has truly been most valuable to his team.
You agree with us, Patrick?
First of all, Hampton's metaphor makes perfect sense. Let's remember: Our esteemed colleague is a Kansas City Royals fan, which is pretty much like being a Chicago Cubs fan, only without the Boston Red Sox-shaming beautiful loser mythos and the adult theme park that is Wrigleyville.
In other words, being a Royals fan is painful. Inescapably, irredeemably bleak. Sadomasochistic, in fact. So I'm not surprised by Hampton's 50 Shades of October reverie. Losing baseball does funny things to a man.
But yeah, let's talk MVP picks. For once, I find myself agreeing with both of you. Well, with a few quibbles.
Unlike Jake, I don't think Andrew McCutchen's second-half slowdown should be held against him, no more more than Buster Posey's late charge should carry extra weight. It's a long, punishing season—almost like a six-month spanking session, and thank goodness for that, right, Hampton?—and games played in April and May count as much as those played in August and September. That said, Posey almost certainly will be the choice. Team success always seems to matter when it comes to individual end-of-season honors, even in an intensely individualistic, near-Randian "team" sport like baseball.
(Hey, I don't make the rules, and definitely don't pretend to make sense of them).
As for the American League? Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander says it would be "bull[expletive]" if teammate Miguel Cabrera becomes the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski and fails to capture the MVP award. Maybe so. But this is baseball. Bull[expletive] comes with the territory. (Exhibit A: Roger Clemens, Sugarland Skeeter; Exhibit B: Jose Canseco, the complete Twitter Sessions; ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution rests). Me? I like Mike Trout. Not just because his Wins Above Replacement metric is compelling—Jake and Herman Edwards are right, you play to win the game—or because he has played in 21 fewer games than Cabrera, or because (according to the good people at Fangraphs) Trout's base running is way better than Cabrera's. (I know, shocker).
No, I'm going with Trout because so much of what he has accomplished is both unexpected and unprecedented, a reminder that even in our hyper-analyzed, post-Moneyball era, baseball can still surprise and delight in totally irrational ways, producing a season so remarkable we may never see the likes of it again. Like a summer love affair, I suppose, burning bright before burning out.
See? I told you Hampton made sense.