When it comes to highly heralded prospects and the idea of the players not turning out to be nearly as good of players as the hype would say, the Angels might be near the top of the list. Ask any fan of the team and they’ll lower their caps and list off the seemingly endless names, such as Dallas McPherson, Brandon Wood and many others. However, this season, one player may be making up for all of the previous disappointment and not only living up to the hype, but surpassing it entirely. That player is 20 year old All-Star Mike Trout and while he may be the most important player on the team’s roster since his call up from Salt Lake City, is it possible that he’s also the most valuable player in the entire American League, even with less games being played by the young star than most players?
Since his promotion from AAA and his stint on the Bees, Trout has been one of the best players in all of baseball, electrifying fans every night and making Halo fans salivate over the possibility of what kind of player they might have. The comparisons have been non-stop, with his teammate Torii Hunter even likening him to Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. Although that is quite a stretch at this point, there seems to be no denying that the potential is there and if his current pace continues well into September, the comparison might just be accurate one day.
If you take a look at Trout’s statistics since his arrival in the Major Leagues this season as a full time player (He previously spent some time on the major league roster last season and didn’t have the same quality of production as this season, however, he didn’t have the same players around him as well.), it would be hard to not wonder if he could end up being the first player to be the Rookie Of The Year and AL Most Valuable Player since Ichiro in 2001. With that being said, Suzuki had already been playing professional baseball in Japan for years before his arrival in the MLB and if Trout were to accomplish the feat, he would be the first pure rookie since Fred Lynn in 1975. Still, it will not be easy, with the competition he is facing this season.
There are plenty of players who can make a case for the honor of the American League MVP award this season and if there’s anyone who may be his biggest competition so far, it’s Texas All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton. Hamilton’s stats are quite good, starting with his 3.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), his 25 home runs, a .319 batting average and a .385 OBP, all good for 7th and above in the AL. Hamilton has played in sixteen more games than Trout which shouldn’t be ignored but when you take out the difference in home runs between the two players, Trout surprisingly comes out on top in most of the statistics between them. When compared side-by-side, Trout’s WAR (4.1) is good for 2nd in the AL while Hamilton’s is a very respectable 7th. Trout also leads the AL in batting average with a .336 rate and his OBP is currently percentage points higher than Hamilton, with a .391 percentage.
As it commonly goes, the two players each share a talent that they not only specialize in, but exceed most every other player in completely. In Hamilton’s case, it’s his prolific power, with his home run total only trailing Toronto’s Jose Bautista by one for the lead. With Trout, it’s his stolen bases, 22 of them in total to lead the AL, even with the major amount of games that he’s missed due to being called up from AAA and not starting the season on the big league roster. So what could separate the two when it comes down to a final vote? In my opinion, it would be the defense.
Hamilton and Trout not only share a lot of talent, the same division they play in and competitive nature but also, they play the same position out in the outfield. While they may both be catching fly balls, the comparisons between the two when it comes to their time playing defense ends right there, with Hamilton being an average fielder while Trout may very well win the Gold Glove in his rookie year. Still, with only days remaining before the All-Star Break, anything can happen and there will almost certainly be a few more candidates to add to the list of AL MVP contenders. Another theory to think about is also Hamilton and Trout’s teams and which team ends up with the better record, the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, respectively. While it may not be fair when picking the most valuable player in the American League, it certainly does have a huge effect on the voters for the award, somewhat comparable to Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and his 24 wins last season on the way to his MVP award. Would Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury have won the MVP if his team and Verlander’s team switched positions in their records in the last month of the season?
Odds are that, however it may not be scientifically proven, common sense dictates that it makes your case significantly harder to make. Keep in mind that Ellsbury’s WAR was much higher than Verlander’s last season and although Verlander did deserve the AL Cy Young award, he most likely gained the MVP award from a misleading stat such as wins total. With that said, many things need to come to together for any single player to win the AL MVP but with the stats how they are now, the likelihood of Trout getting better with time, Hamilton’s injury history and more, the impossible could happen.
What remains to be seen is if the players can keep up their torrid paces and if Trout can keep doing what he has been seemingly effortlessly doing on the field, he may just stand a chance at history.