Baseballer of the Year, Mike Trout (
by Tony Petrangelo
Oct 5, 2012, 7:00 AM

What does Mike Trout have to do with the Marriage Amendment?

Is the AL MVP debate like the Marriage Amendment debate?

For anyone not familiar with the happening’s vis-a-vis Major League Baseball’s American League Most Valuable Player award, it goes like this. Mike Trout, the baseballing novice who is pictured above had, based on our modern understanding of baseball, a historically great season.

And to say it was a historically great season I don’t have to couch that phrase in something like, “for a rookie.” For anyone he had a historically great season. Check out this link to the single season WAR leader board for position players.

The names in the top twenty are (number of appearances in parenthesis); Babe Ruth (6), Rogers Hornsby, Carl Yastrzemski, Barry Bonds (2), Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle (2), Willie Mays (2), Joe Morgan, Stan Musial and Ted Williams.

These are all inner circle Hall of Fame guys (except for Barry Bonds of course).

Tied for twentieth on the all time single season WAR list at 10.7, with Willie Mays age 33 season and Ted Williams age 27 season, is Mike Trout’s age 20 season.

Looking at it now, that still seems like a totally improbable sentence to have written, but there it is. And here it is again:

Tied for twentieth on the all time single season WAR list at 10.7, with Willie Mays age 33 season and Ted Williams age 27 season, is Mike Trout’s age 20 season.

What was Miguel Cabrera’s Baseball-Reference WAR this year? 6.9. On the single season list that leaves him tied for the 496th best season ever. He was even second on his own team to Justin Verlander who had 7.4 WAR.

By this measure Mike Trout was clearly the better player this year. And it’s not even really close at all. The fact that he was a rookie, and just a rookie, but a freaking 20 year old rookie, only adds to the amazingness of what he did.

But WAR, a stat that attempts to put a value on the totality of a players contributions on the field of play, is a genesis of a new generation of baseball fans who are more open to different ideas about how to asses player value.

If you’re wondering at this point why there is even a debate around who should win the AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown. That is to say he lead the American League in the three triple crown categories, Batting Average, Home Runs and Runs Batted In.

And while there is certainly some historical significance in that feat, it is historical significance that is tied to an antiquated understanding of the game of baseball. The triple crown means something because tradition dictates that it means something.

And this is the parallel to the debate about the marriage amendment, however tenuous that parallel may be. Those who support it are desperately holding onto an idea about what marriage should be that is quickly becoming outdated as we as a society evolve and grow and learn to better understand one another.

Supporters of the amendment often refuse to look beyond their own preconceptions that things should be a way because that’s the way things used to be or have always been. But it’s often hard for people to move beyond their own preconceptions. This isn’t meant to be an indictment of marriage amendment supporters, but rather a recognition that it’s hard for some people to accept a changing world. There is great comfort in tradition, even when it’s wrong.

And in the case of the American League Most Valuable Player award, it doesn’t really matter. I know that’s quite the statement from someone who just spent a few hundred words talking about how awesome Mike Trout was this year. But really, if your name isn’t Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera (or their agents!) it doesn’t really have any effect on you who wins the AL MVP this year.

However, the marriage amendment to the Minnesota constitution that will be on the ballot this November will have very serious effects on the lives of thousands of Minnesotans. And for what?

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.