Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Angels announced that Mike Trout is ending his 2019 season. The two time MVP, and arguably the best player in Major League Baseball (MLB), is undergoing season-ending surgery on his right foot.
Shortly after the announcement, sportsbooks all over the US pulled down odds for American League MVP. DraftKings Sportsbook was among the first to re-post odds on Tuesday, listing Trout as a -1000 favorite to win the award. Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros has the second-best odds at +1000.
The MLB regular season seems to go on forever but it’s almost over. Trout remains the favorite to win the AL MVP despite not having played in a game since Sept. 6. He will miss the final 20 games of the year. This accounts for about 12% of the season.
Mike Trout is the best player in Major League Baseball
Mike Trout was having another typically great Mike Trout season. Even though he’s missed the past eight games, he still leads both the AL in the following statistical categories according to FanGraphs:
- WAR (Wins Above Replacement) – 8.6
- wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created) – 179
- wOBA (Weighted On Base Average) – .436
- WPA (Win Probability Added) – 5.62
Despite another great statistical season from Trout, the Angels haven’t been in the MLB playoff race all season. At the time of this article, the Angels are 68-82. The team is 29.5 games behind the division-leading Astros and 20.5 games behind a Wild Card playoff game.
Leading in all these categories shows that Trout is a great player. It also shows that this team sport isn’t entirely affected by the greatness of a single player.
Understanding the value in Most Valuable Player
Statistically, Trout is having the best season of any individual player in the league this year. Does that really matter if his team was never in playoff contention? This is an award for an individual player with a name that signifies a trait that’s beyond an individual season.
The name of the award is controversial. Is the Most Valuable Player an award for the most valuable player or the best player in the league. This topic is discussed towards the end of every MLB season.
The debate might go back to the beginning of Major League Baseball. However, there’s one MVP that is often used as an example of why this award shouldn’t be given to the “best” statistical player.
In 1987, Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs won the National League MVP despite the team finishing in last place. Dawson is considered one of the worst MVP selections of all time despite having 49 home runs, 137 RBI, 90 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases. Back then counting stats were all the rage and Dawson was deemed the best player in the NL and received the award.
Statistics have become a major part of Cy Young Award voting. Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young in 2010 despite having a 12-13 record. His underlying statistics were so much better than every other pitcher that even the oldest of old school writers couldn’t deny his dominance.
Is there value in Trout?
While voting for the best pitchers encompasses individual statistics, the MVP award doesn’t always. The word “value” still matters for this award to some voters. Even the most mainstream of mainstream reporters disagree on the topic.
ESPN’s Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian see things differently. While Olney sees the great statistical value in Trout, Kurkjian sees other players as having more value for their team. The two discussed the topic on a recent podcast.
Statistically, Alex Bregman is second to Trout in every category mentioned above. Does he add value to the Astros dominance in MLB this year? After all, they’re in first place in the AL West. That’s the division where the Angels are 29.5 games back. Would the Astros be in first place without the second-best player in the league? Possibly.
MLB could simply come up with a new “Best Player” award to put an end to the discussion of value. Then again, the discussion keeps MLB in the news while college and pro football dominate the world of sports.
AL MVP Odds (as of Sept. 17)
|Mike Trout (OF)||LAA||-1000|
|Alex Bregman (3B)||HOU||+1000|
|Xander Bogaerts (SS)||BOS||+1400|
|DJ LeMahieu (2B)||NYY||+1700|
|Mookie Betts (OF)||BOS||+2000|
|Rafael Devers (3B)||BOS||+2000|
|George Springer (OF)||HOU||+2800|
|Michael Brantley (OF)||HOU||+2800|
|Francisco Lindor (SS)||CLE||+3000|
|Marcus Semien (SS)||OAK||+3000|
|Matt Chapman (3B)||OAK||+4000|
|Yoan Moncada (2B/3B)||CWS||+4000|