Was Josh Donaldson the Right Choice for American League MVP?
Hey guys, someone other than Mike Trout won the annual American League Mike Trout Award.
It was close, but the Baseball Writers Association of America decided not to give Mike Trout's award to Mike Trout.
Instead, they selected Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson to be the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player.
Donaldson received 23 out of a possible 30 first place votes from the writers, finishing with 385 points. Trout received the other 7 and picked up 22 second place votes and a third place vote to finish with 304 points. The third finalist in the voting, Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain, finished in third place with 225 votes.
This award was hotly debated, as most of the offensive metrics seemed to indicate that Trout had the better season.
Trout had the better nERD (4.07 to 3.94), Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (9.0 to 8.7), Baseball Reference WAR (9.4 to 8.8), batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and weighted runs created. Donaldson had the same number of homers (41) as Trout but had more RBI and runs scored.
So was Donaldson given the award because his team made the playoffs and Trout's team fell short? Yeah, probably.
Make no mistake, Donaldson was terrific in 2015 in his first season with the Jays, becoming the first player since Vladimir Guerrero in 2004 to win an MVP award in his first season with a new team. And he became only the second player in Toronto history to win the award, following George Bell in 1987.
What made Donaldson's case compelling was his performance with runners on base and in clutch situations. He batted .353 with runners in scoring position, .332 with runners on base, and .351 in high leverage situations, all of which explains his league-leading 123 runs batted in. However, Trout was no slouch in these situations either, actually posting the best OPS in baseball with runners on base at 1.201.
There is no doubt a fair amount of Trout fatigue has set in. Despite having only won the MVP once, voters seem to look for ways to give it to someone else. And even with all our advanced metrics, writers still prefer players who help get their teams to the playoffs (even though Trout's Angels were still alive for a playoff spot down to the final game of the season).
At the end of the day, Donaldson was awesome. But he was the second-best player in the American League in 2015.
The award should have been Trout's.