I hear there has been some outrage over my former broadcasting comrade, Greg Zaun, implying that Trout is—if we all had to vote now—the clear cut AL MVP, and that it’s not even close.

Well, I think it’s kinda close. If you look at their respective numbers it’s certainly close enough that a slump or surge could make us second guess However, if I had to vote, I’d still go with Trout.

Sorry Jays fans.

My reasoning here is simple. If you switched the two, putting Trout on the Jays and Donaldson on the Angels, Trout would be able to replicate everything Donaldson has done, and you’d see an increase in runs scored and RBI’s, which are major components in arguments supporting Donaldson.

This isn’t to say Donaldson would stop being a good player, but, an excellent hitter supported by an excellent line up that gets on base, drives in runs, and generates more stress for an opposing pitcher grants the edge in stat creation. The Angels lineup is not full of slouches and wimps, but it’s not the Jays lineup.

Imagine if Trout were a Jay right now. How much more of a beast would he be? And if Donaldson were an Angel, would he be statistically better or worse?

RBI’s and runs scored are byproducts of your team, so you can’t use them to weight a player’s MVP ranking. Instead, you can compare what the respective players have  done in their chances to drive runs in, not how many they’ve actually driven in as that number can tell a very different story.

Here is a Jesse Spector at the Sporting News talking about precisely this issue with precisely these two players:

“Not to downplay Donaldson’s season, because he has been fantastic, but he has had 122 plate appearances this year [as of Wed, August 22nd] with runners in scoring position, putting him in the top 25 in the majors. He should have a lot of RBIs, and he does.

The real point is that the run batted in has as much to do with the team as the individual. Mike Trout, the man Donaldson is chasing in the MVP race, has 69 RBIs, of which 33 have been Mike Trout. Why has Trout driven in other Angels only 36 times? It’s pretty simple: Trout does not have other Angels to drive in. He’s batted 95 times with runners in scoring position. Entering Wednesday [the 22nd of August], he had a 1.215 OPS with RISP, compared to a still outstanding, but much more human, .991 for Donaldson.”

(You can read the rest of this article—one that thoroughly reputes Buster Olney on the matter—here.)

The major take away is that, along with other areas that Trout leads Donaldson, Trout also performs insanely well with runners in scoring position—better even than Donaldson, whose RBI’s might lead you to believe otherwise.

Here is the rest of their numerical comparison, brought to us courtesy of the folks at Blue Bird Banter:

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Trout’s numbers are superior. Not by so much that it’s “not even close” but by enough to give him a significant edge.

Thankfully we don’t have to vote now, so, let the best man win!

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