Angels outfielder Mike Trout isn’t expecting to go home with any hardware this off-season. The winner of last year’s AL Rookie of the Year award and a runner-up to Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera in AL MVP voting, Trout told Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that his team’s poor season, and the successful season for the Tigers, will allow Cabrera to win his second AL MVP award in as many seasons.
“I think it’s going to be another thing like last year,” Trout said before Sunday’s season finale against the Texas Rangers. “I can’t take it away from Cabrera. He won the division and is going to the playoffs, and we’re heading home after the game. That’s a big contribution, being on a winning team.”
Cabrera leads Trout in many of the “traditional” statistics, like batting average (.348 to .323), home runs (44 to 27), and RBI (137 to 97). Trout provided value in many ways aside from his bat, like stealing 33 bases to Cabrera’s 3 and playing above-average defense at a premium position. He leads Cabrera by a wide margin in Wins Above Replacement, 10.3 to 7.7 per FanGraphs, and 9.2 to 7.2 per Baseball Reference.
Not much has changed in the AL MVP race since last year. There are a couple new wrinkles in Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson, but Trout and Cabrera are expected to be the heavyweights in the balloting. Furthermore, for as great as the analytical side of baseball has looked, what with the success of the Athletics, Pirates, and Cardinals this year, the media has not evolved from last year’s defense of Cabrera. So, it seems that Trout is right — it is inevitable that Cabrera will win another AL MVP award.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.