It is a foregone conclusion that when the American League MVP award is announced later today that Miguel Cabera will be declared the winner. The logic goes that Cabrera and his Triple Crown will simply be too much for the more traditional voters that make up a major bloc in the Baseball Writers Association of America. No matter how much stat-friendly pundits, including super genius Nate Silver, insist that Trout is clearly the superior choice, the BBWAA is going to stick to their old school guns and make Miggy the MVP. WAR, defense and baserunning be damned!
That's how it is supposed to play out anyway, but before you go and start shaking your calculator-clenching fist at the heavens or popping bottles of champagne (depending on which candidate you support), know that there is still a shot that Trout could pull off the upset. Thanks to the BBWAA making the bold but greatly welcomed decision to make public every voters ballot, we can see that there are some trends in the voting that could be in Trout's favor.
Most obviously, Trout was the unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year. That was widely expected, but it at least shows that there are no writers out to make a point regarding Trout and the all the sabermetric love coming his way.
But where Trout's case really starts getting built is, oddly enough, in the AL Manager of the Year voting. While the MoY is hardly met with the same kind of scrutiny as the MVP, it was generally accepted that it was Buck Showalter's award to lose. Instead, the voters surprised us all and gave Bob Melvin the nod. At a minimum, it shows that the BBWAA isn't as predictable as we like to believe. It also suggests that the BBWAA isn't beholden to the East Coast bias charge that has long been lodged against them. But the most important development is that the writers backed the manager of the A's and in so doing tacitly endorsed the poster team for sabermetrics. Maybe that wasn't their intention, but it does suggest that the hatred of all things statistical doesn't run as deep as many suspect.
What should make Cabrera supporters truly nervous though is the outcome of the AL Cy Young voting. As we all know, that award went to David Price instead of Justin Verlander. In the past, the fact that Verlanded went to the playoffs and Price didn't would've been enough to give Justin the edge much as many will be the case between Cabrera and Trout. The AL Cy Young vote was incredibly close, but Verlander's loss could be an indicator that the BBWAA voters aren't all that impressed with Detroit gaining entry to the post-season by winning the worst division in baseball with a record worse than both the Angels and Rays.
The fact of the matter is that the BBWAA voters haven't been nearly as bad as their reputations. In 2011, they bucked tradition and award the AL MVP to Justin Verlander. In 2010, they gave Felix Hernandez the Cy Young despite having just 13 wins. In 2009, Zack Greinke won the Cy Young despite being on an awful Royals team. They are still a tough crowd to convince of more progressive ways of evaluating baseball, but they are changing, slowly but surely.
Besides, there is always the chance that the group of 28 writers selected for this vote just so happens to be a Trout friendly bunch. There are plenty of BBWAA members that are pro-Trout, so all it takes is this random selection of voters just so happens to be heavy with that group and/or includes a few members who place a special emphasis on character, which could be a problem given Cabrera's history of off-field indescretions.
Hey, stranger things have happened, right?