Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout took home his first of what will be many American League MVP awards on Thursday with a unanimous 30 of 30 first-place votes. At 23 years old, he’s the fifth-youngest to ever win the award.
After finishing second in voting to Miguel Cabrera the past two seasons, it’s nice see Trout finally make it over the hump and capture that elusive hardware. He finished ahead of Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez and Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley.
Trout swatted a career-high 36 home runs this season while also leading the AL in RBI (111), runs scored (115), and extra-base hits (84).
For all you sabermetricians out there, Trout also led Major League Baseball with a 7.9 WAR (wins above replacement) and finished second in wRC+ (weighted runs created) with 167.
For those who do not know, WAR is used to determine how many wins you are worth to your team over a replacement level player. It combines all facets of the game, defense included, to determine just how valuable you truly are to your team.
While Trout had a great individual year, this did not translate to team success, as his Angels got swept by the Kansas City Royals in the divisional round of the playoffs. I’m sure if you ask him, he would trade in the award for a World Series ring.
With Derek Jeter retiring, Trout now becomes the de facto face of Major League Baseball. And at only 23 years old, it is certainly in good hands for the next decade.
Moving over to the National League now, where Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the Most Valuable Player award in 46 years. He also took home his third Cy Young award as well, making him the first pitcher to win both awards in the same season since Bob Gibson did so in 1968.
Kershaw led baseball with a ridiculous 21-3 record while also finishing first in ERA (1.77), WHIP (0.86) and complete games (6). He also finished third in the NL in strikeouts with 239, this despite missing four weeks of the season due to a back injury.
And as if all that was not enough, he also put a cherry on top by throwing a 15 strikeout no-hitter on June 18th against the Colorado Rockies. Some would argue that he pitched the greatest season in MLB history.
I usually don’t believe a player who only contributes in about 32 of his team’s games should be allowed to win MVP, but in this case, Kershaw was just so ridiculously dominant that it was hard to ignore. Plus if you combine that with the fact that runner-up, Giancarlo Stanton, played on a Marlins team that finished eight games under .500, it makes the decision a no-brainer.
Kershaw also led the Dodgers to a 94-68 record and a second straight NL West crown.
Although some would argue that after watching the postseason, Madison Bumgarner is the best pitcher in baseball, the MVP award is a regular season award, and there was no player or pitcher more dominant this season than Clayton Kershaw.
He also signed a seven-year $215 million dollar contract in January, making him the richest pitcher in the history of baseball.