The most valuable player in the league should be judged based on how that player would perform on any club in his league. However, it seems that for years, great players have been deemed less likely MVP candidates due to the fact they are under contract with non-playoff teams. Mike Trout is the poster boy for this subject.
Last Sunday, the Los Angeles Angels announced that Trout would undergo surgery on his foot. This effectively concluded his year two weeks prior to the end of the regular season. Trout has been experiencing Morton’s neuroma on his foot and it was decided he would proceed with surgery Friday to correct the problem. He opted for surgery after completing a season many believe could be his best single-season performance to date.
After beginning the season with a press conference in front of Angel Stadium announcing a historic 12-year contract extension with the Halos, Trout did not disappoint. He hit .301 with 28 home runs and 67 runs batted in heading into the All-Star break. After being named to his eighth consecutive All-Star game in his eighth full season, Trout went on to complete his season with an A.L.-leading 45 home runs, 110 walks, .438 on-base percentage, .645 slugging percentage, and 1.083 OPS. Trout’s 8.3 Wins Above Replacement led all MLB players as his season ended weeks prior to others; he still sits 0.7 WAR ahead of Alex Bregman.
Bregman is Trout’s chief competition for the American League Most Valuable Player award going into the final week of the season. Bregman can make a great argument for the award as a key component of the AL West-leading Houston Astros line-up. Bregman has since passed Trout for the lead in walks but likely will not surpass his WAR and other major statistical categories Trout has headlined this year.
Bregman has the benefit of playing on an Astros team with a ton of offensive which, of course, can help when it comes to run creation statistics. Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, George Springer, Yordan Alvarez, Robinson Chirinos, and Yulieski Gurriel all have WAR scores above 3.0 this season. Even shortstop Carlos Correa, who has missed half of his season with an injury, is a 2.7 WAR player. Just as it’s unfair to judge Bregman’s performance because he’s surrounded by talent, the same should go for players who find themselves excelling is less fortunate circumstances. If not for Trout’s performance in the American League, Bregman would be the MVP this season. He’s had a great year right and that should be recognized.
Unfortunately, there can only be one MVP.
Trout played for an Angels club that went into this season losing starting left fielder Justin Upton for over two months and soon ace Andrew Heaney for several months, too. Just as Heaney and Upton returned to the fray, the unthinkable occurred. Close friend and teammate, Tyler Skaggs, suddenly passed away July 1 during a road trip to Texas. Trout stood before the media on behalf of his mourning teammates that week. He laced up and went on to amass 13 home runs and 29 runs batted in during the month of July — a month that was emotionally taxing for Trout and fellow Angels players with daily tributes to their friend and fallen teammate.
Despite all of this, Mike Trout kept his game in top shape and produced the best season in the American League before his season ended after his 134th game played. Through everything Trout has been dealt this season, it was only after the Angels were officially eliminated from the post-season that he decided to have surgery.
Insert Mike Trout in the line-up for any team in baseball and he’s the most valuable player. While the Angels are not a winning team this season, Trout’s still the most valuable player on the Angels or any other American League club. That’s the way the MVP award should be determined: the most valuable player in the league on any roster.
Trout’s season ends prematurely but his impact on this MLB season should be enough to garner him the third American League Most Valuable Player award of his career in November.