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OC Register: Angels’ Mike Trout a longshot to win MVP, likely headed for another near-miss


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Mike Trout might be experiencing some deja vu on Thursday.

The American League MVP will again be announced, and the Angels star will again be in the top three.

But he’s probably not going to win.

When the top three finishers were announced last week, it was no surprise that Trout was included, along with Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts and Cleveland Indians third baseman José Ramírez. When the winner is announced on Thursday, Betts is expected to take the honor.

The results will be announced on MLB Network, in a program starting at 3 p.m.

It could be Trout’s fourth time finishing second in his seven full seasons in the majors, to go along with twice winning the MVP and once finishing fourth. The fourth-place finish was last season when he missed nearly two months with an injury.

Ironically, this was in many ways Trout’s best season.

His 1.088 OPS was a career high, and also the best in the majors. His adjusted OPS, which takes ballparks into account and sets the league average at 100, was 199. That was also a career high and major league best in 2018.

Trout set a career high with a .460 on-base percentage, and his .628 slugging percentage was just one point off the career high he set last season.

Trout also hit .312 with 39 homers, just two short of his best.

Defensively, he improved in most of the metrics, earning his way into consideration for his first Gold Glove. He lost out to Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. for that honor.

Despite all of that, even Trout admitted as the season came to an end that it was going to be tough to beat Betts for the award, because he also had an exceptional season.

Betts hit .346 with 32 homers and 30 stolen bases, to go with a 1.078 OPS. Thanks to his outstanding defense, Betts led the major leagues in WAR, according to both Baseball-reference and FanGraphs.

Of course, Betts also has an edge on Trout because the Red Sox went to the playoffs and the Angels didn’t even contend. Although in recent years voters have put less emphasis on team performance – evident by Trout’s MVP award in 2016, when the Angels had a losing record – it is still difficult for a player on a non-contender to overcome a strong performance from a player on a contender.

The MVP is determined by a vote of 30 writers, two representing each city in the league. Votes were submitted before the start of the postseason.

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3 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Trout won’t win, but it would not surprise me at all if he did win.  Do I think he is the most deserving, I have no idea.  I just see a scenario where Trout wins and JD Martinez and Betts split a lot of votes.

You’re assuming that JD is going to get first place votes. If he does ... those votes would of been for Trout more than likely.

Betts by a landslide 

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16 minutes ago, halomatt said:

Yep.  The Cy Young vote might indicate that there is more hope for Trout than some think.

Except that the advanced stats don't significantly favor Trout (or favor him at all). Trout had a better OBP, a better OPS+, and a higher oWAR. Betts wasnt far behind in any of those categories, was the superior defender, had a higher overall WAR, and played for a team that won its division despite 100 wins from their rival. 

I want Trout to win of course, but it's easy to argue that Betts should win.

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1 hour ago, Torridd said:

flop, I've always felt that, for the most part, MVPs should only be for playoff teams.  

I get that, and i mostly agree.  I have seen some performances i thought deserved exceptions to that though.  I mean if wins no longer matter for pitchers due to it being a team stat, should they punish other individual performances?
I dont see it as an absolute i guess, but all things being equal, it should be the difference.  

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The playoff argument ultimately is arbitrary and subjective, being mostly based on the argument from tradition, which is never a good reason to hold to stuff by itself. There’s a good reason why voters have shifted away from it. It just isn’t remotely defensible on any level.

Based on objective value, Trout is a hair better offensively. It’s close, but there isn’t really any question on that point.

Defensively, both are great, but every defensive rating system puts Betts over Trout. Defensive analytics are notoriously imperfect, but even though every system disagrees on how exactly to measure defensive value or how to value it compared to other aspects of the game, they all agree that Betts has higher value on that front. 

Unlike previous years, I don’t believe there is a wrong answer between the two. I’d vote Trout as the tie-breaker because he’s gotten jobbed in the past,  but that’s just me. 

I don’t actually think that Martinez bleeds off much from Betts unless we get a particularly strange group of the BBWAA electorate. And I’m okay with that - it bugs me seeing that kind of willful ignorance and I’m glad it’s leaving the sport, however slowly. In past years, we’d have a top two of JD and Khris Davis (ugh) - thank goodness we’re long past that insanity. 

My prediction: Trout grabs 6ish 1st place votes, give or take two. Martinez maybe gets one 1st. Betts probably gets the rest. Trout probably snags something around 20 2nd’s, and a few 3rd or lower from the Neanderthals. 

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