Cabrera Wins MVP and a Brilliant Drama Concludes

Tonight, Mike Trout lost the MVP race to Miguel Cabrera. We expected as much. Traditional thinking that favors team success in the MVP voting won out and Trout, who had the better season, came in second.

A lot of other weird things happened in the full balloting. Like the couple people who left Cano off the ballot. Or how no one put Torii Hunter, Alex Gordon, or Austin Jackson on their ballots anywhere from 1-10. And how Jim Johnson (who is a great reliever) was anywhere near the voting.

But we should probably take stock of our lives at this point and realize these awards don’t matter at all. The BBWAA hands out these awards based on the preferences of their members. Sporting News does the same thing. Other smaller groups hand out their own. (SABR Toothed Tigers included and the vote was unanimous!)

BBWAA has prominence because they are the oldest. There is history attached, but that’s all. Mike Trout’s season is no less impressive or memorable because he didn’t win the MVP. Neither was Verlander’s because he lost the Cy Young

We get caught up in these races because we like talking about sports, but the actual consequences are very small unless you’re one of the players involved. So while I think a lot of the voting this year and in past years is garbage, it doesn’t really affect my life or yours and I’m not going to bed angry.

Things don’t always happen the way they should. That’s part of life. Mike Trout will wake up tomorrow as the best player from 2012 whether or not he has a plaque to show it. Miguel Cabrera will clear room on his mantle.

While a lot of the conversation surrounding this award was toxic, I think the race was great for the game. Cabrera supporters acted silly by dismissing sabermetrics, but not because they don’t like sabermetrics, but because the only reason they don’t like them is they don’t like what sabermetrics told them.

Sabermetrics are great. They give you a lot of information. It’s silly to dismiss them because you don’t like what they tell you. The people wanted Cabrera to win, so they attacked the method of the people supporting Trout. That’s what I didn’t like.

The Trout crew was also at fault. Honestly, we walked around like the Cabrera supports needed their mittens pinned to their jackets like four year olds. We lost sight of the fact that Cabrera had a great season and deserved to be near the top of the ballot.

We shouldn’t dismiss the human element of the game so quickly just because we think it’s silly. Most valuable player means best player to us in the sabermetric community, but a lot of people think and vote with their gut. MVP is about the story. It is about the narrative. Just because we don’t like that, doesn’t mean that isn’t okay. Narratives are fun.

I didn’t like that this became about stats and tradition, because it was really about evidence and instinct. We who supported Trout like tangible evidence. Those who backed Cabrera care about weaving the evidence together in a way that feels right and exciting.

It’s totally okay that people supported Cabrera for that reason, but they should say so. It should be about liking him or liking the idea of a power hitter or liking the idea of carrying a team to the postseason. But all of those are stories we tell ourselves. It’s baseball mythology and it’s great, but admit that’s what it was and I’ll be fine.

So while I don’t like how angry this got, I love that we were in this position. We watched phenomenal baseball in 2012. Trout versus Cabrera wasn’t a close race for most people (because they strongly favored one or the other), but man was it a fun one. Trout being an all-around star while Cabrera mashed.

It was one for the ages. So was the Cy Young race. And the NL race was awesome two, we just forgot to look. The AL Manager of the Year was razor thin and we got to witness the Year of Mike Trout and the beginning of Bryce Harper.

The Dodgers bought a team and the Red Sox started over. The A’s came from nowhere and the Orioles wouldn’t go away. The Cardinals kept the magic alive and the Rangers crumbled.

Phil Humber threw a perfect game. So did Matt Cain and King Felix, but my god, Phil Humber threw a perfect game. I’ll never forget that. It was during my bachelor party.

Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw pitched brilliantly. R.A. Dickey for crying out loud.

The Pirates had something to say and the Nationals built a winner. Fernando Rodney was a shutdown reliever. Fernando. Rodney.

Bret Lawrie fell six feet onto concrete to catch a baseball and Chris Sale didn’t need surgery.

Baseball was awesome in 2012. It was beautiful and unpredictable and wonderfully cruel.

The Infield Fly Rule Game in Atlanta broke hearts and made dreams come true. Chipper Jones and Omar Vizquel retired, leaving the five year old in me a little confused about where baseball went.

So while this feels like the end of a bitter civil war, it’s really the end of a great chapter in a supremely thrilling novel. On April 1st, 30 teams clung to the hope that this would, in fact, be the year. Only one held on all season.

So we’ll follow trades and free agents and we’ll prepare for fantasy drafts and cactus league games. We’ll stare out the window and wait for spring.

It was a fun season and now it’s really over. Miguel Cabrera won the MVP over Mike Trout, but the real winner was us. We got to sit on our coaches, in our cars, and in our seats and watch this spectacular drama unfold.

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