The AL MVP voters speak — including the guy who voted Trout seventh

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Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com spoke with 17 of the 30 AL MVP voters and got their rationale for who they picked for the award.  It’s a great effort by Gonzalez to collect all of these opinions. It’s pretty illuminating too.

The most illuminating thing about it: how many of the voters cite team performance when it comes down to casting their MVP vote. This despite the fact that the MVP ballot itself states that “The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.” Of course it also says “there is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means,” so that’s the out.

And for the record, here’s Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. He’s the guy who voted Mike Trout an astounding 7th:

I am a strict constructionist re: “valuable”. If the award were Player of the Year, Trout would get my vote. I’m of the school that in order to have “value” you have to help your team be good, at least to the point of contending. The Angels didn’t truly contend. To fully develop that logic, players from non-contenders should not be listed on the  ballot at all, but the BBWAA insists that we fill out all 10 slots, so I did, even though I did not think there were 10 worthy candidates from contending teams.

Again: no “clear cut definition” so if he wants to read “on a contending team” into the criteria, he can.  And he did. To a pretty extreme degree, I think everyone can agree.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.