MLB Most Valuable Player Award 2013: American League

Harry How

The American League Most Valuable Player award is going to come down to the same two hitters as last year, the two best hitters in the game, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. The Fake Teams writers make their case for American League MVP for Trout, Cabrera, Robinson Cano and others.

Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera? Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout? I am sure many of the American League MVP voters were asking themselves this when pondering who they should vote for. It's certainly not easy. These two hitters are the two best hitters in baseball, and will go #1 and #2 in most fantasy drafts in 2014.

Major League Baseball announces their American League Most Valuable Player award winner later today, but the Fake Teams writers got together to provide you with our take on who should win the award, along with stating the case for several of the other candidates.

American League

Making the MVP Case: Robinson Cano

by Daniel Kelley

When we have our fantasy drafts, we like to look at positional scarcity. If there weren't positions, a guy like Buster Posey would go way lower in drafts, but because he's a catcher and most of them are awful, he shoots up draft boards. I sometimes feel like we don't do this enough in real-world discussions, because when guys do what Robinson Cano does as a second baseman, we don't immediately start throwing him parades and dinner parties.

When I was a kid, our local paper would, when there wasn't a lot of baseball news in a given day, run a list of league leaders. It was agate style, hard to read, not that informative, space-filler really. But I used to love going through each leader to see if there were Rangers showing up. In good seasons, I would on occasion be able to find a Ranger in each category. But it would be a handful of Rangers - Juan Gonzalez in RBI, Ivan Rodriguez in hits, Rusty Greer in doubles, that sort of thing.

Were I playing my little game in 2013, and were I a Yankee fan, I could have found a Yankee in many of the categories. Except, with the rest of the team pretty awful around him, it would have been Cano in pretty much all those categories. He's a superstar at the plate. Mike Trout is, too, but he's an outfielder. There are a lot of those. Miguel Cabrera is, too, but he's a third baseman, and he's an awful one. Chris Davis, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado. They all had great seasons, but they all did it at positions that go ten-deep easy.

Making the MVP Case: Evan Longoria

by Jason Hunt

Evan Longoria was completely healthy for the first time since 2010 this year, and the performance shows what remains possible from him when he is. He finished the season with a .269/.343/.498 slash line with 32 home runs, 39 doubles, 91 runs scored and 88 runs batted in. He finished in the top 10 in the American League in home runs, runs scored, extra base hits, slugging percentage, and total bases, as well as wins above replacement and runs created. He's not just an offensive producer though, as he was also an elite level defender this year again. While unable to unseat Manny Machado for either award, he was a Gold Glove finalist this year and finished third among all third basemen for the Fielding Bible award as well. Add to these things the leadership provided to a Rays' team which made another playoff run and you've got another MVP-caliber season from Evan Longoria.

Making the MVP Case: Josh Donaldson

by Andrew Ball

At first glance, Josh Donaldson's line of .301/.384/.499 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI's doesn't look worthy of comparison to either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout, but as you dig deeper you begin to see he's right there with them in the AL MVP race. Of the three, Donaldson was by far the best defensive player, adding nearly a full win more than Trout and more than two and a half wins more than Cabrera with his glove. And while he didn't equal Trout's baserunning abilities, the A's third baseman was above average and more than five runs better than Cabrera. Factor in that he also played more games than either of the other two, and you can start making the case for Donaldson as the award winner.

The problem, of course, is that Trout was clearly the best player in the American League -- a fact I just don't think is disputable on any level. But, the award is most valuable, and while I equate two, the general perception is that value can only be added to playoff teams. Mike Trout's team lost 84 games, thus rendering him a non-contender in some circles. If that's the case, then the choice should be Josh Donaldson. Donaldson was the more complete player, evidenced by his edge in WAR according to both FanGraphs (7.7-7.6) and Baseball Reference (8.0-7.2). Plus, Dondaldson was the clear-cut best offensive player on a team that won three more games than the Tigers, without the aid of the best rotation in baseball. If we are going to discount Mike Trout's season because his team was not in contention (an action that I don't condone), Josh Donaldson is the logical choice for American League Most Valuable Player.

Making the MVP Case: Chris Davis

by Alex Kantecki

Making a case for Chris Davis is easy peasy. The Orioles' slugger led the way with 53 home runs and 138 RBI, all while maintaining a .286 BA, which is 20 points better than his career average. Davis' .348 ISO is laughable compared to the rest of the league; Miguel Cabrera checked in at No. 2, with a .288 ISO, while the 2012 Triple Crown winner narrowly edged Davis by two nose hairs for best slugging percentage, .636 to .634. Davis set career highs in every major offensive category, and he's the first player to hit 50 home runs since Jose Bautista (54) did it in 2010. In the (ahem) post-steroid era, Davis is alone on an island, hitting nine more home runs than the next closest guy (again, surprise, that would be Cabrera). While Baltimore missed out on the postseason, it wasn't as simple as Davis slumping in the second half. Yes, he did that, too, but the Orioles were a bottom-third team in pitching, according to FanGraphs WAR. Cabrera's Tigers, meanwhile, were No. 1. Davis was on pace to challenge Barry Bonds' home-run record with an astonishing 31 long balls through the end June, but he ultimately fell short. The fact we're even discussing that kind of thing 12 years later is a testament to Davis' game-changing power. And, in the fantasy scheme of things, Davis, who finished No. 4 on the ESPN Player Rater, is easily the most valuable player of 2013, given his respective ADP.

Making the MVP Case: Manny Machado

by Zack Smith

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. I don't know how, but some people are still disputing that. Bryce Harper is a phenom in his own right and the two have taken the league by storm over the last two seasons. Harper and Trout might have to make a little room for a third boy to join the band as Manny Machado has been one of the best players in the league since his call up in later 2012. Before going down with a knee injury in the last week of the 2013 season, Machado played in every game and had one of the best seasons for a 20 year old since, well, Mike Trout.

Machado was worth 6.2 wins above replacement in 2013, placing him sixth in the American League and tenth in the bigs. While Machado's home run numbers and stolen base totals may pale in comparison to other players', he led the league in doubles and finished sixth in hits. Machado has excellent bat control and fit perfectly into the two spot in the Oriole's order. A lot of Machado's offensive value does not come through in metrics, but there is no denying the effect Machado has had on his team.

The majority of Machado's value comes from his superb defense. A natural shortstop, Machado moved to the hot corner to accommodate JJ Hardy at shortstop and he's challenging Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria for best third baseman in the league. In fact, Machado was award the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award. Although defensive metrics are still being refined, Machado posted a season for the ages. He led the AL in fielding percentage and assists as well as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive WAR. His 4.3 Defensive WAR (Baseball Reference) is tied for tenth all time and the best mark for a 20 year old in history.

Mike Trout was even better at 21 than he was at 20. Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis battled it out through the summer for the home run title. Josh Donaldson emerged and Evan Longoria stayed healthy. All that being said; Trout's defense seemingly regressed, Miguel Cabrera's injury sapped some of his abilities down the stretch, Chris Davis offer little value defensively or on the base paths and Donaldson and Longoria are both seven years older than Manny Machado. He probably won't win the AL MVP, but Manny Machado is certainly deserving of being in the conversation. The next time you mention Trout and Harper, don't forget Manny Machado.

Making the MVP Case: Miguel Cabrera

by Ray Guilfoyle

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera won the American League MVP and Triple Crown in 2012, hitting .330-.393-.606 with 44 home runs, 109 runs and 139 RBI. His .606 slugging percentage (SLG) and .277 ISO wasn't even the best of his career, as he hit for more power in 2010, with a .294 ISO and .622 SLG.

Until this season.

In 2013, Cabrera came close to winning the American League Triple Crown once again, but Orioles first baseman Chris Davis put up the best year of his career, so Miggy had to settle for second place in home runs and RBI. Even still, Cabrera came very close to equaling his Triple Crown winning 2012 season, as he hit .348-.442-.636 with 44 home runs, 103 runs and 137 RBI.

For me, he is the best hitter in baseball, as there is no one else who can hit for a very high average and hit for big time power like he can. The only thing he doesn't do is steal bases for his fantasy owners, but who cares when you can hit like he can.

Over the last two seasons, he has 2 more home runs and 53 more RBI than his closest competitor - that Chris Davis guy. 53 RBI!! That's crazy, no? Over the last three seasons, he has 20 more home runs and 47 more RBI than his closest competitor. Basically, there's Miguel Cabrera and every one else.

He is that good.

Making the MVP Case: Mike Trout

by Ray Guilfoyle

If Major League Baseball dissolved and held a draft for new teams entering the league, there would be several players who could go #1, including Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw and several others, but if had the first pick, I would take Trout. Trout can do so many things to win a game for you on an every day basis. He can hit for average, hit for power, steal some bases, and play good defense.

The argument for Mike Trout to win the American League MVP award is pretty easy, but unfortunately he may come up short, once again, to the guy I wrote about above. Trout had another terrific season in 2013, hitting .323-.432-.557 with 27 home runs, 109 runs, 97 RBI and 33 stolen bases. In 2012, he won the American League Rookie of the Year award and came in second to Cabrera in the MVP voting. This season, he put up a great season, but could not duplicate his monster 2012 season where he hit .326-.399-.564 with 30 home runs, 129 runs, 83 RBI and 49 stolen bases.

He has now put up a 10.0+ WAR season in each of his first two full seasons in the big leagues, which is pretty amazing. There will be plenty of words written tomorrow about how Trout should win the award, and I really couldn't argue. He is the best all around player in the game.

Maybe the voters will surprise us and Trout will win the award.

Fake Teams Voting Results

Below you will find the results of our voting. Note, not all writers submitted a full ballot. Scoring uses the 14-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points system used by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWWA):

American League Most Valuable Player Award Voting Results

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

Total

Mike Trout

5

4

110

Miguel Cabrera

5

2

2

108

Chris Davis

1

4

3

70

Josh Donaldson

1

1

2

2

49

Robinson Cano

1

1

1

1

31

Evan Longoria

1

3

29

David Ortiz

2

14

Manny Machado

1

1

14

Adrian Beltre

1

1

12

Dustin Pedroia

1

1

9

Jason Kipnis

1

3


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