Opinion: Astros' Alex Bregman the AL MVP, not Angels' Mike Trout

USA Today Sports 1 month ago

HOUSTON -- It’s still called the Most Valuable Player award, baseball’s most prestigious individual honor, but somewhere along the way, the meaning has changed.

It used to signify the most valuable player to a team, traditionally a contender, but now it simply goes to the best player in the league.

If these were the standards when Barry Bonds was around, he would have been the MVP for about 20 consecutive years. Kirk Gibson never would have beaten out Darryl Strawberry in 1988, and Terry Pendleton wouldn’t have won the 1991 MVP award over Bonds.

So, here we are now, debating whether Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels should win the AL MVP award over Houston’s Alex Bregman.

No one is questioning whether Trout is the best player in the game, but how can he really be the most valuable player?

The Angels, once again, stink. They are 71-86, sitting 32 games out of first place in the AL West. They are a fourth-place team. So, if Trout didn’t play for the Angels, they’d be a fifth-place team.

Is that so valuable?

Or how about the fact that he has had only 20 plate appearances in September, playing his last game on Sept. 7 before undergoing foot surgery?

The Houston Astros can’t understand how Trout could be considered more valuable, particularly when Bregman has been the centerpiece of the best team in baseball.

 The stats between Trout and Bregman are eerily close.

  • Trout ended the season hitting .291 with 45 homers, 104 RBI, 110 runs, and a 1.083 OPS with 110 walks and 120 strikeouts.
  • Bregman is hitting .295 with 40 homers, 109 RBI, 118 runs, and a 1.009 OPS with a league-leading 112 walks and 81 strikeouts.

He leads the league in walks, is second with his .419 on-base percentage, second in WAR (7.8), third in OPS, fourth in slugging, fourth in runs, fourth in homers and fifth in RBI.

Yet, despite the glossy resume, Trout is still expected to win the American League MVP in a landslide.

Bregman, 25, shrugs his shoulders, says he doesn’t try to understand it, and refuses to let it become a distraction.

Besides, let Trout have the MVP plaque again.

Bregman will take home the World Series trophy.

“I think this is the best team we’ve had here,’’ Bregman told USA TODAY Sports, “by far. If we win the World Series this year, I think we have a chance to be one of the best teams of all time.

“That’s what I want. When I wake up in the morning, that’s all I ever think about is winning. I not only want to win the World Series again, I want to win it more times than anyone who has ever won it before.

“That’s the one thing I take pride in. I’ve never played on a team ever that hasn’t made the playoffs. I don’t want to stop now.’’

Bregman, 25, insists he’s not concerned about the MVP award. There’ll be plenty of other opportunities. He plans to be a perennial MVP contender, striking out less than 50 times a season, and averaging a 1.200 OPS.

Lofty goals, but hey, that’s Bregman.

“Look, all I want to do is win a World Series,’’ he said. “There’s nothing like playing meaningful games in October.’’

So fair, or unfair, whether he should receive much stronger consideration of the MVP award, Bregman understands.

Well, kind of.

“Postseason baseball is the most fun,’’ Bregman says. "It’s all about winning. Isn’t that why we play the game?’’


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