This may be cheating for our LA Angels moments of the decade countdown, considering this took place over a two-year span.
That being said, one of the best storylines of the decade – not just for the LA Angels, but all of baseball – were the MVP debates between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. As we know, Mike Trout was the best player in baseball pretty much as soon as he debuted in the 2012 season.
Regardless, he didn’t capture his first Most Valuable Player until 2014. Miguel Cabrera won the award in both 2012 and 2013, and one can make the argument that Trout deserved to win in both seasons.
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This debate is one of the most important moments in MLB history. You can’t log on to Twitter nowadays without seeing someone reference Wins Above Replacement (WAR), and that’s what made Trout’s case so strong despite Miguel Cabrera winning the Triple Crown in 2012.
Whether you believe Mike Trout should have won the MVP or defend Cabrera’s case for his back-to-back awards, the “WAR vs. classic stats” officially began during these two MVP races.
In the progressive, Mike Trout corner, we had the analytically driven fans of the game endorsing Trout as the clear-cut MVP. His base running, defense, and hitting all graded out as elite.
Opposite of him, we had the classic fans of the game supporting Miguel Cabrera. He won the Triple Crown for Pete’s sake! Despite playing first base, by far the easiest position on the diamond, Cabrera graded out as an awful defender. He wasn’t exactly threatening on the basepaths, either.
The biggest difference between the two sides in this debate, besides the aforementioned defense/base running, was the value of RBI’s. How much should a player be credited for driving in teammates? Obviously it matters a lot for the Triple Crown, but that award is older than women’s suffrage.
Since the Cabrera-Trout debates, WAR has taken off as the single most important star when analyzing players. That stat and Mike Trout have been linked together since Trout’s debut. His overall talent in every aspect of the game made him the perfect player at the perfect time in the WAR movement to attach the stat too.
And it just so happens that WAR isn’t just the best stat in the MLB, but the player it’s been synonymous to throughout his career is the best player in baseball, and should be a five-time MVP winner.