You come to this blog not just because you know me but also because I have some interesting things to say. I sometimes dabble in topics that provide a different take on the game of baseball or sometimes go off the reservation when making a prediction, such as me picking the Seattle Mariners to win the American League West this season. Regardless, one of my goals is to give the reader something new to think about, something that he or she may not have considered and having them come around to it see from my point of view. Well, here goes another one of those topics.
Robinson Cano deserves to be the American League MVP.
Before you decide if this the right or wrong choice, stop for a moment. Turn away from this page, grab yourself a drink (alcoholic or not) have a cookie and take a deep breath. I promise I will still be here. There are five guys who I think would belong in this discussion: Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Chris Davis and Mike Trout (only because people want a Cabrera-Trout rematch). Yes, numbers are important and Cano would not be listed here if his were weak. The key word here is “valuable”; we have to put that word back into MVP.
Of the five gentlemen listed, think about where their respective teams would be if they were injured or underperforming. For all of his greatness, the Angels minus Trout this year would be more than the four games under .500 they currently are. It is very hard for someone to win the award whose team has been out of playoff contention since May. I know you shouldn’t compare teams from year to year when determining an individual award. However, the Orioles were better in 2012 when Davis’s numbers were not nearly as impressive as 2013’s output. Donaldson has enjoyed a breakout season for the A’s but his numbers are little down as compared to Cano’s. Finally, Cabrera has been slowed by injury for the past month which while not taking away from another dominating season, the Tigers have been comfortably ahead in the AL Central all season long. Now, think about where the Yankees would be without Cano. Although they may ultimately come up short of the playoffs, there is no chance they are even close without his production. This leads me to the other part of my reasoning.
Think about each candidates supporting cast. Although Albert Pujols has been hurt and Josh Hamilton has had a rough season, Trout still has Mark Trumbo who is on pace for 35 home runs and over 100 RBI’s in addition to C.J. Wilson who could win 18 games for the Halos. Davis has Adam Jones (32 HR’s, 103 RBI’s) and Manny Machado (51 doubles) to help him drive the Orioles offense. Donaldson has three other teammates that have over 20 homers plus a staff that ranks second in the AL with a 3.61 ERA. Cabrera is surrounded by Torii Hunter (17 HR’s, 78 RBI’s, .295) and Prince Fielder (24 HR’s, 103 RBI’s, .283) in the lineup. Cano’s biggest help in the run producing department is Alfonso Soriano, who didn’t come to the team until the end of July and Brett Gardner whose numbers (8 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 24 steals) do not measure up to any of the players I listed earlier.
I do not want to diminish anyone’s reliance on statistics such as WAR or other metrics that help determine year-end awards. All serve a purpose and should be considered when making a selection. However, I think we do overanalyze when some simple thinking can be applied. This is the case for the AL MVP discussion. Just ask yourself this question: which team would be most hurt if their star player was absent? When you realize the answer, hands down, is Robinson Cano, then you will have identified the 2013 AL MVP.