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Patrick Hruby

Trout? Posey? Cabrera? The race for the 2012 MVPs

The Atlantic sports roundtable weighs in

Benjamin Franklin once said that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. If that's the case, then individual sports awards are proof that God loves arguments and wants us to drink more beer. In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we discuss the race for Major League Baseball's 2012 Most Valuable Player awards:

Hampton Stevens: ... the NL MVP is still Buster Posey's to lose, isn't it? Especially since the Giants catcher has his club safely ensconced atop the NL West, while Braun's Brewers are still double-digits back in the Central. If Milwaukee can't at least nab one of the three wildcard slots up for grabs this year, Ryan's MVP hopes could be hoist on the same petard he used last year on Matt Kemp. Ditto for the dreadlocked Pirate, Andrew McCutchen, whose sweet swing hasn't been enough to save Pittsburgh from a September slide ... in the AL race for MVP, Tigers manager Jim Leyland this week won the Capt. Louis Renault Award claiming he would be "shocked" if his man Miguel Cabrera wasn't named MVP. Mike Trout would be. The 21-year old Angel rookie spent the first 20 games of this year in the minors, yet still could lead the league in batting average and stolen bases ...

Jake Simpson: ... The NL race is getting more cut and dried by the day as Posey leaves McCutchen and his dreadlocks in the rear-view mirror. Since the All-Star Break, Posey has put up a nearly incomprehensible slash line of .388/.466/.650 (batting average/OBP/slugging) with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs, AS A CATCHER. The Giants have risen with their young catcher, posting a 39-23 record since the break to take an 8.5-game lead in the NL West. Meanwhile, McCutchen struggled in August, hitting just .252/.347/.346, and is batting under .300 for September. Unsurprisingly, the Pirates have slowly collapsed over the past six weeks, going 11-27 since August 8. ... Trout did spend most of April in the minors, yet he leads the AL in runs (118) and stolen bases (46). Factor in his Ken Griffey Jr.-esque fielding (check out this catch, or this one), and Trout's Wins Above Replacement Player (WAR) of 10.3 far outstrips Cabrera's 6.3 total. If it's true that wins are the most valuable asset a team can accumulate (and it is), then Trout has to win the MVP, because he has truly been most valuable to his team ...

Patrick Hruby: ... Unlike Jake, I don't think Andrew McCutchen's second-half slowdown should be held against him, no more more than Buster Posey's late charge should carry extra weight. It's a long, punishing season—almost like a six-month spanking session, and thank goodness for that, right, Hampton?—and games played in April and May count as much as those played in August and September. That said, Posey almost certainly will be the choice. Team success always seems to matter when it comes to individual end-of-season honors, even in an intensely individualistic, near-Randian "team" sport like baseball ...  I'm going with Trout because so much of what he has accomplished is both unexpected and unprecedented, a reminder that even in our hyper-analyzed, post-Moneyball era, baseball can still surprise and delight in totally irrational ways ...

Read the full article at The Atlantic online