Baseball | Notebook: MVP potentials
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 01:09
As the MLB’s regular season winds down and the hunt for October heats up, contenders often rely on their star players to step up and carry them into the postseason. While superstars have their eyes on clinching a playoff berth, September also happens to be the best time for these players to pad their MVP resumes. And, as fans, there is nothing better than the end-of-season MVP debate. With that in mind, the Daily takes a look at the Race for the MVP:
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Sorry Tigers fans, but what Trout has accomplished in his historic rookie season makes him the easy choice for AL MVP. Since being called up from the minors in late April, Trout has been the most electrifying player in all of baseball, leading the American League in runs scored, stolen bases and wins above replacement (WAR) by considerable margins, while also in the top-five in batting average and OPS. What separates Trout from the rest of the pack, however, is his impact defensively and on the base paths. Trout plays a near flawless center field, possessing the speed to run down fly balls in the gaps and the athleticism that puts him atop the MLB in home runs robbed. That speed also proves invaluable on the bases, as he steals at an incredible 92 percent rate. Barring an unforeseen slump or injury, Trout, who just turned 21, is poised to join Ichiro Suzuki and Fred Lynn as the only rookies to win the MVP award.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Among the best pure hitters in baseball for the past decade, Cabrera is on his way to his sixth top-five finish in the MVP race without taking home top honors. Cabrera is undoubtedly a dominant offensive player — a triple-crown candidate who has power to all fields and excels in the clutch. Despite happily agreeing to move to third base after the Tigers signed Prince Fielder this off-season, Cabrera is considered by scouts as one of the worst fielding third basemen in the league. His massive 240-pound frame doesn’t do him much help on the bases, either. While he may be more devastating than Trout at the plate, Cabrera’s limitations in the field and on the bases will hurt his chances at leapfrogging Trout for the AL’s top honor. Add another top-five finish to your Hall of Fame resume, Miguel.
3. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Say what you want about the Yankees. Yes, they have the highest payroll in American sports and enjoy a roster loaded with all-stars at every position, but Jeter’s performance in 2012 has been nothing short of remarkable. With injuries to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and nearly every starting pitcher, Jeter has been the most reliable Yankee all season. The Captain leads the MLB in hits while providing a calming influence in a locker room full of the sport’s biggest egos and personalities. Sure, the Yankees are in the midst of an epic collapse, but Jeter has been the lone Yankee to exceed his preseason expectations as he continues to climb the MLB’s all-time hit list.
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
In the modern day MLB, any offense a team gets from its catcher is a bonus; teams value defense far ahead of offense from their backstops. Last season, Posey suffered a devastating leg injury that threatened his future not only as a catcher, but also as a player in general. A year later, Posey has silenced his doubters, putting together one of the better offensive seasons by a catcher in recent memory, all while handling one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Posey has played even better down the stretch, hitting a whopping .388 since the All-Star break. While his offensive numbers are impressive, Posey’s performance behind the plate is what separates him from the rest of the pack.
2. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Believe it or not, baseball is relevant again in the Steel City and fans can thank McCutchen for that. McCutchen is a true five-tool player who impacts the game in every facet, leading to a 6.5 WAR, the second highest in the National League. McCutchen had this award all but wrapped up before faltering down the stretch and watching his Pirates fade out of the playoff picture.
3. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
What performance enhancing drugs? Braun’s 2012 campaign has been arguably his best yet, despite losing his partner-in-crime Fielder to free agency. Braun’s Brewers have catapulted themselves back into the playoff picture and now sit just 2.5 games back from the second wild card spot in the NL. He, like McCutchen, is a jack-of-all-trades outfielder, leading the league in home runs, RBIs and OPS while also stealing 27 bases and playing above-average defense in left field. Innocent until proven guilty, Braun deserves his share of MVP votes. The only question is will the voters hold a grudge against him after the drama that surrounded him in the offseason.