Much has been said about the amazing rookie year of 21 year old Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout but in all of the publicity about the young player, there seems to be a lack of coverage for the other players on the team. They’re just as important to the team’s currently successful season and there are many candidates to pick from who is the most valuable player besides Trout. Before Trout arrived for good in the big leagues this season, the consensus best player on the Angels was perennial All-Star Albert Pujols and he’s certainly done an amazing job recently, he went through a long slump in the beginning of the season, leaving the race wide open to who would be “the man”. With Trout having one of the most amazing seasons in baseball season (even more so when you recognize that he just turned 21), there’s probably no chance that the Angels would be doing as well as they are without him. Due to the team’s bullpen failures of late, without Trout, this team would almost definitely be a below .500 team and one of the biggest disappointments in all of baseball.
There are many more players in the mix for who it can be said that they’re having the best season on the team besides the star rookie, including Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver, Albert Pujols and Torii Hunter. Coming into the 2012 season, rumors about an impending trade of Trumbo were running wild with 1B Kendrys Morales returning from injury. Little did we know then, Mark Trumbo has had a sophomore season for the ages with a very respectable 3.0 WAR, a .574 SLG percentage, 29 Home Runs and 73 RBI. The reason why he was included in so many trade rumors is because of concerns over where he would play. Thankfully, he’s found his spot in the outfield and he’s had an amazing season so far that shows no real sign of slowing down. Trumbo will definitely not contend for a Gold Glove but at the same time, he’s making up for his mistakes on the fielding side of the ball with his bat. With 320.1 innings played, his main position is left field. He has a -1.6 UZR and while that’s certainly not good, it’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been. In his short stint at third base, he had a -2.5 UZR in 63 innings and it seemed like there simply wouldn’t be a place for him to make the easy plays and smash the ball at the plate. Thankfully, that is not the case and the outfield certainly seems like the home for the man who hits the Trumbombs. The main case against Trumbo is obviously his fielding but with how he has hit this season, it’s almost become something of a distant thought when he’s showing enormous potential and doing fantastically for himself.
All-Star SP Jered Weaver has had a marvelous season in all facets of pitching, when you look at every single statistic that is readily available. For the basic look at things, he has a 15-1 win/loss record and a 2.13 ERA, stats that could very well win him the Cy Young Award. His closest competition would have to be Detroit Tigers All-Star SP Justin Verlander but when it comes to awarding a single player with the same year two seasons in a row, it’s not as likely as one would think. A pitcher can be dominant for years but all signs point to Weaver winning the Cy Young Award this season if he can continue what he’s been doing for months. When you dig deeper into what makes Weaver a special pitcher at a special time in his career, he has a 3.1 WAR, a 6.94 K/9 and the lowest walks per 9 innings percentage of all starting pitchers on the team with a stunning 1.85 rate. Just like the argument in 2011 against Verlander, it’s tough to give someone the MVP award when they only play every five days. Still though, I personally shudder to think where this team would be without Weaver, it could be absolutely disastrous and most likely would be. When it comes to pitching, Weaver has been the only constant for the team in 2012 and if there was ever a year where a pitcher was our second most valuable player, this could be it.
The All-Star million dollar man and holder of huge expectations, Albert Pujols started the season off on an atrocious note but has been one of the best players in all of baseball after the All-Star Break and quite frankly, before it as well. He’s been on a massive power surge as of late and his recent outings have left him with 24 Home Runs and a .523 SLG percentage. In the other facets of statistics, he currently has a 2.8 WAR, a .284 AVG and 73 RBI. He was brought in for his prolific offensive skills which he displayed as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals but what many didn’t realize is that he’s a fantastic fielder at first base. His UZR is currently 4.8 in 858.1 innings and he’s had the usual season that you can expect from Pujols, extremely solid fielding at a position that’s constantly overlooked in the field. What goes against Pujols is that horrendous first month or so with the team where he didn’t hit a single home run and had a terrible batting average. From there though, it can be stated that he’s back to his usual self for the most part. He’s certainly right up there with the other players in this article in who is the team’s MVP besides the most obvious candidate.
Last but not least, is the veteran presence and All-Star, outfielder Torii Hunter. With Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo all vying for a spot in the outfield before this season, the wily vet Hunter has solidified his spot in the outfield and also, with a strong bat and tough out in the batting order. The longtime Angel has had a very solid season, even while his former spectacular plays on defense have been replaced by the young guns, Trout and Bourjos. Hunter holds a .294 AVG, has 55 RBI’s and a WAR of 3.0 while the most intriguing statistic to look at is his UZR in the outfield. In 702.1 innings out in right field, Hunter is second on the team to Trout with a 7.2 UZR reading and that’s really quite good. For Hunter, he may not be the player that he used to be but really, he hasn’t fallen off much at all. He’s simply gotten some more miles on the tires and he’s performing at a very high rate.
When you take all of the statistics and circumstances that are currently in play, I would say that Jered Weaver is the next in line when it comes to their case for making the MVP award next to Mike Trout. I took every single statistic you could think of with Trumbo, Hunter, Pujols and Weaver and it’s literally a toss-up between Weaver and Trumbo. What concluded the comparison is the Angels’ specific needs. The team has been hitting well as a whole lately but one issue for the entire season has been the pitching staff and the troubling state of affairs around the clubhouse. Ervin Santana is likely headed to the bullpen while Dan Haren has not been like himself and even besides those two, Zack Greinke and C.J. Wilson have been more than a little shaky. This team desperately needs Weaver and when you take the team’s bullpen pitching into account, it’s made his efforts even more valuable. Sure, he only plays every five days but the Angels win at least 75% of the time when he’s pitching and he’s having a 2011 Verlander year if I’ve ever seen one. Weaver has been the glue that has held the team together and without him, I’ll actually go out on a limb and say that he would be more missed than Trout if either were to be off the team. Weaver has literally been the only reliable starting pitcher in Anaheim and he’s putting up a historic season in the pitching world, even in a season where he was previously injured. You can see the rankings of the four players of note below, what would you rank them?
1# Jered Weaver
2# Mark Trumbo
3# Albert Pujols
4# Torii Hunter
"NTMVP" Fan Vote Rankings (Via Twitter @the405love & @LAAINSIDER #NTMVP)
1# Jered Weaver
2# Albert Pujols
3 & 4 (Tie)# Torii Hunter/Mark Trumbo