COULD FORMER NJ SUPER 17ER MIKE TROUT BE THE MVP AGAIN?
By Bob Behre
Former NJ Super 17 player and Millville, N.J. resident Mike Trout is very much in the AL Most Valuable Player discussion once again.
Sure, the Red Sox’s Mookie Betts is the favorite and Betts’ teammate, J.D. Martinez will grab a lot of votes. But consider the analysis below by Brent Servio of the “Bronx To Bushville” blog before you anoint anyone other than Trout.
Voting is a privilege. Whether it is our civic duty and right, or part of a participatory democracy away from the gamut of politics, there is a kind of earnestness and thoughtfulness incumbent to the voting process. If we vote for or against anyone or anything based solely on our biases, we vote in a way inconsistent with the diligent maintenance of a representative democracy (or democratic republic, if you will).
It’s an honor to participate in selecting the best ballplayers of 2018. No, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) doesn’t hand out the hardware, but it is a necessary counterbalance to the monolithic BBWAA, and ours is a voice that is very much needed to help push the game and its interests forward. Without further adieu, my 2018 ballot:
AL MVP: Mike Trout
Any other season, and this is Betts running away with the MVP. But what Mike Trout did – which is to say, put up Bondsian numbers without remotely a level of Bondsian protection around him – is unreal.
Shohei Ohtani was hurt most of the season, Albert Pujols is roughly 200 years old and little more than a compiler at this point (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Justin Upton hit 30 dingers but also struck out 176 times. I love Martin Maldonado because of the Brewers, but that cannon for an arm doesn’t make up for an OPS barely scrapping .600. A league-leading OBP for the third straight season (.460!) and a second consecutive AL-best OPS to go with an otherworldly OPS+ of 199, Trout kept an otherwise pedestrian Angels club from dipping to Orioles-grade futility.
Carrying that club on his back, Trout did much more with much less. For that reason, I give him the nod over Betts, who had a superior supporting cast and enjoyed an outstanding campaign (traditional slash line: .346/.370/.518). Betts’ time will hopefully come, but he’s the 1A to Trout’s 1.
Trout finished 2018 with his typically well-rounded numbers. He batted .312, scored 101 runs, hit 39 home runs, drove in 79 runs and stole 24 bases for a WAR of 10.2 in 140 games. He missed a couple weeks due to injury. Trout is well on his way to putting up a career Wins Above Replacement number that will be top five all-time. Oh, by the way, he made zero errors in center field.
(For an original take on MLB, check out the Bronx To Bushville blog at bronxtobushville.com).