Jersey boy Trout’s MVP reign ends but not for long

By Bob Behre | November 13, 2020

Millville’s Mike Trout is 29 years-old and already owns three American League Most Valuable Player awards. He finished second in the voting four times. That’s seven of his nine full major league seasons in the top two spots. Incredible.

That insanely sustained record of excellence didn’t slip much in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season despite Trout falling to No. 5 in the MVP voting announced on Thursday by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Jose Abreu of the White Sox grabbed 21 of the 30 first place votes to outdistance second place Jose Ramirez of Cleveland in the overall voting, 374-303.

Trout, named the AL MVP in 2014, ‘16 and ‘19, was second in the voting in 2012 (his rookie season), ‘13, ‘15 and ‘18 and fourth in 2017. So, the fifth place finish in the voting this year is Trout’s lowest.

There will be no recounted or contested ballots or lawsuits, for that matter, for this 2020 vote, but there remains some curious decisions, as always. AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber of Cleveland finished fourth in the voting, just one point, 173-172, ahead of Trout. Bieber did have an incredible season (8-1, 1.63 ERA), 122 strikeouts, 21 walks in 77 innings-pitch over 12 starts.

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout makes a catch on a ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor during the first inning of a preseason baseball game Monday, March 26, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

I’ve just always felt the Cy Young Award is a pitching award and the MVP is a hitting award. Let’s leave it at that.

But the top three vote-getters, Abreu, Ramirez and the Yankees D.J. LeMahieu, were certainly worthy of their spots. We are not sure, though, what was going on in the mind of one writer — Janie McCauley of the Associated Press in Oakland — when she designated LeMahieu in the No. 8 spot on the ballot. Let’s face it, no LeMahieu, no playoffs for the Yankees in 2020.

Back to Trout. The Millville Meteor played one summer (2008) for New Jersey Super 17 out of Jack Cust Baseball Academy in Flemington, the precursor to Diamond Nation. So, Trout is the local hero here in New Jersey and, particularly, in South Jersey where the love for baseball blazes brightly in the proud hearts of the locals.

While there are divergent opinions about Trout’s 2020 season, his statistics and performance speak for themselves. No, Trout did not deserve the MVP this season, but his numbers over the 53 games he played in the shortened 60-game season were well on the way to being huge statistically.

Trout’s 17 HR and 46 RBI over 60 games — again 53 of which he played — equates to 44 HR and 132 RBI over 162 games, assuming, based on the pace he was on, 141 games-played. We’ll also assume, for argument’s sake, his batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.390), slugging (.603) and OPS (.993) would remain close to the same over those 141 games. That’s a heck of a season and pretty much Trout-like. The on-base, slugging and OPS numbers are only slightly down from his MVP season in 2019 and his amazing three-year run in 2017-’19.

So, yes, Trout remains baseball’s best player and on pace for incredible career numbers that hopefully, eventually, are paired with playoff victories and a World Series championship. At 29 and having played 10 seasons, Trout boasts a .302 career batting average, 944 runs scored, 302 HRs, 798 RBI, .408 on-base percentage, a .582 slugging percentage and a gaudy career OPS of 1.000. His 74.4 career WAR is already 81st all-time. That’s ahead of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson (74.0) in 11 less seasons.

It’s fair to assume Trout has more incredible seasons and more MVP awards ahead. And yes, he’s a Jersey boy.

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