Boston Red Sox: Closer look at Mookie Betts v. Mike Trout for AL MVP

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Oct 7, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning during game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning during game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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In Part II of a two-part series, I compare the candidacies of the AL MVP, Mike Trout of Los Angeles, and the runner-up, Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox.

Oct 7, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning during game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a single against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning during game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

This article is Part II of a two-part series. In Part I, I discuss the MVP selection process in illuminating detail, while in this article, I closely examine the credentials of the winner, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the runner-up, Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox, in order to provide an answer to the simple question, “Did the voters get it right?”

My initial thoughts were to question how much “value” a player on a 74-win team could contribute. However, the 30 voters who determine the award’s recipient are provided with vague and nebulous criteria regarding the quantification of “value.” As a result, one voter’s interpretation of “value” can differ substantially from that held by a different voter.

In addition, I learned that certain historically applied criteria for MVP voting, e.g., MVP award recipients should lead their teams to postseason play, and Designated Hitters are ineligible for the award, are nowhere to be found on the ballot’s instructions. In fact, the ballot specifically states, “Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.”

Now, there is ample cause to believe that the aforementioned misconceptions are components of the selection criteria, because, as indicated in this November 18, 2016 piece by ESPN SweetSpot blogger David Schoenfield, it is stated, “Trout became the first player on a losing team to win MVP honors since Alex Rodriguez in 2003.” In addition, Schoenfield states, “Of the 20 MVP winners from 2006 to 2015, 17 played on playoff teams.” Lastly, although the ballot affirms a Designated Hitter’s eligibility for the award, the fact remains that no player whose primary position is “Designated Hitter” has ever won the MVP award.

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