Should a Team's Record Affect MVP Voting?

July 3, 2012; Cleveland, OH USA: Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE

According to a recent article by Paul Hagen at MLB.com, there are several writers/voters who believe that Mike Trout will not win the AL MVP award if the Angels do not make the playoffs:

A random poll of veteran baseball writers suggested that merely being a rookie won't cost Trout support ... but being an outstanding rookie on a team that may or may not make the playoffs could.

This similar refrain is taken up almost every season when the discussion of MVP arises and a player or two happen to be on an underachieving team. The general line of thinking seems to be that if the player was really "most valuable", he would have carried the team to a playoff berth.

But why use the playoffs as a barometer for a player's "value" to his team? Why not look at where the team would stand without said player before making a judgment as to the team's playoff aspirations?

The Angels currently stand at a not great 66-62 on the season. If we're to assume that individual WAR correlates to a team's win-loss record (which it doesn't, necessarily), then Mike Trout has contributed an astounding nine wins to the Angels' cause.

By playing Trout instead of Vernon Wells (0.1 bWAR) and Peter Bourjos (0.9 bWAR), the Angels have netted an extra eight wins. Without Trout then, using the WAR/wins assumption, the Angels' record would be at 58-68, far out of playoff contention.

It is a testament to Mike Trout's "value" and skills that the Angels even have a whiff of a playoff berth. The same could be said for Miguel Cabrera, whose team might also miss October by no fault of his own. If both teams miss the playoffs, from whom does one vote?

Let's not punish the best players in the AL for their team's inadequacies.

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