Mike Trout is going to win the 2014 American League MVP Award. To use a timely reference, book it, Danno.
Given the way the last two seasons played out with Trout (the sabermetrician’s choice) vs. Miguel Cabrera (the old school, Triple Crown columnists choice), in tedious, circular, ideologically-entrenched arguments, the Angels young star is a shoo-in this year. Los Angeles is starting to run away with the American League West so the argument that Trout’s value (i.e. Wins Above Replacement) was lessened by being on a sub-.500 team is moot. In turn, his 31 homers, .927 OPS and whatever other metric you want to use — plus the history of the last two votes — should make him the winner by a landslide come November.
If we use WAR as a be-all, end-all — which most smart baseball folks would argue isn’t a good idea — Trout actually trails Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson 7.0 to 6.6. Clayton Kershaw leads the Majors at 7.8 and could win National League MVP honors along with the Cy Young since, bar a huge statistical September for either Jayson Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton.
I’d like to make a case, admittedly a futile one, for Alex Gordon of the Royals to get some consideration for AL MVP, despite a lesser WAR of 5.8. This is Trout’s award to lose and since voting for sports awards often devolves into a high school popularity contest, Gordon doesn’t have much of a shot to overcome the Angels’ outfielder. Maybe he could if he hits a home run every game the rest of the way AND the Royals qualify for the postseason for the first time since 1985.
Home run every day, eh? Gordon’s come close to that over the last month — or it felt that way as Kansas City surged into first.
In August, Gordon piled up nine homers and a .292/.356/.585 slash line. While “clutch” doesn’t exist in sports, or we’re collectively not allowed to acknowledge it, Gordon did hit some of those homers at opportune times including a walk-off against Twins closer Glen Perkins on Aug. 26.
Overall Gordon’s offensive numbers don’t quite jump off the page with 18 home runs to go with a .278/.355/.454 line. That doesn’t take into account his defense, which is rated at a 2.1 WAR — less than Donaldson’s but above Trout’s. Either way, the inevitable Alex Gordon 2014 defensive supercut is going to be awesome.
Gordon, an All-Star, isn’t going to need to make room on his mantle for an MVP award but he does deserve some acknowledgement nationally — even as football gobbles up 95 percent of the sporting consciousness. It’s certainly impressive to see a highly-touted player — the second overall in the 2005 draft — eventually make good on his promise after some initial struggles and a position change from third base. Gordon also deserves some plaudits for transitioning from leadoff to No. 3 hitter in 2014, helping carry a Kansas City lineup which for long stretches was borderline anemic at the plate.
Unless you’re an avid baseball fan, the 2014 Royals are mostly anonymous — their three-headed bullpen monster of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera lacks a catchy nickname like “Nasty Boys.” Gordon is at least one Kansas City player you should know as we zero in on October, MVP or not.
(Has this been Yardwork?)