AVG: .284 HR: 32 RBI: 103 R: 99 SB: 14 OBP: .372 OPS: .915 TB: 296 IBB: 2 BB:71 SO:159
AVG: .335 HR: 30 RBI: 96 R: 80 SB: 3 OBP: 407 OPS: .984 TB: 288 IBB: 25 BB: 61 SO: 39
Take in those stats for a moment. I won’t say who the players are yet, even if you may already know or have a guess. The point of this is to purely analyze the stats.
By looking, who would you say is the better player? It’s hard to tell. They seem too close.
If you were to hypothesize based off of what you see, Player ‘X’ would appear to be the more well-rounded player, edging Player ‘Y’ in home runs, RBIS, runs, and stolen bases. There isn’t any stat Player ‘X’ particularly lacks in; he is good in every area.
Yet, while Player ‘Y’ may not look as multi-dimensional, he is significantly better in certain areas. His batting average of .335 is over fifty-points higher than his comparative counterpart, which is a substantial difference. While .284 is respectable in itself, .335 is world-class hitting. Player ‘Y’ also gets on base more, at a .407 clip, and hardly strikes out at all, with only 39 on the entire season with under a month to play. Player ‘X’ has struck out 120 more times. Further, Player ‘Y’ has been intentionally walked 25 times as opposed to ‘X’’s 2, proving he is feared more by pitchers with men on base.
At this point, it must sound like I’m being biased. Truth is, I am. I have no particular reason to be biased; I am not a fan of the team either player plays for. I lean rather heavily towards Player ‘Y’ simply because he has not even gotten close to the recognition he deserves.
Player ‘X’, as you may or may not have guessed, is Mike Trout. He is undoubtedly a great hitter and an even more superb young talent.
Player ‘Y’... is Victor Martinez. A player largely known as the “support guy” behind Miguel Cabrera, Martinez has been the best hitter on the Tigers all year and has trumped Cabrera in nearly every offensive category. When Cabrera hasn’t been able to produce, Martinez has come up huge. It’s time for people to untie Martinez from the inevitable rope that constantly links him with Miguel Cabrera. In 2014, he has simply been the better player of the two. The number’s don’t lie.
But here’s the thing: V-Mart isn’t just the best player in the Tigers. He’s the best player in the American league. Better than Trout, better than Jose Abreu, better than Robinson Cano, better than Michael Brantley. Better than anybody.
Over the long haul? Clearly, at age thirty-six, that’s a completely different story. There hardly is a short haul with him, let alone one that lasts for a prolonged period of time. With that said, MVP’s are given on a year-by-year basis; it’s not about long-term potential. MVP’s are, and rightfully should be, awarded to the best player in each respective conference at each season’s end. That is why Victor Martinez is the deserving AL MVP for 2014.
While I believe Martinez has been the best overall player at the plate, it’s his value to the Detroit Tigers that puts him over the top, in my books. At the clean-up spot, hitting behind Cabrera, Tory Hunter and Ian Kinsler, V-Mart has done an outstanding job of protecting Miguel Cabrera, forcing pitchers to throw to him instead of around him. As a bonus, he has also driven in a good amount of the runs that Cabrera has missed out on, adding to his value.
Perhaps Martinez’s best accomplishment has been his ability to lift the entire Tigers’ offense when co-star players such as Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler have gone through dry spells. He kept the offense dangerous even when his best teammates weren’t performing. In the middle of the pecking order, he has efficiently driven in nearly one-hundred men (and counting) on behalf of the first half of the batting order, and on behalf of the second half of the order, he has influenced the plate approach of several hitters hitting behind him, which is evident in the quick development of JD Martinez and Nick Castellanos. Both have blossomed into patient and consistent hitters far quicker than people expected, and the likely reason is in credit to their wise mentor, Victor Martinez. It’s his ripple effect on the lineup; a reflection of the impact he has on others, as well as himself.
An even more impressive feat has been V-Mart’s consistency. Not once, at all, has he gone through an extended dry spell, unless you want to count the five games following the all-star break, which he also had to miss due to a back injury. He has hardly gone more than three or four games without converting a run, RBI, or a multi-hit game. This cannot be said about Mike Trout, who has gone on several dry spells throughout this year’s campaign.
Martinez’s uncanny ability to both get on base and avoid striking out is yet another factor that contributes to his deserving of the MVP trophy. He's “technically” the second best hitter in the MLB, trailing leader Jose Altuve by a mere one point. He’s also striking out in only thirteen-percent of his at-bats. It’s pretty astounding. He’s a true powerhouse in every aspect at the plate. A hitting machine who refuses to strike out and hits for power to top it off? There’s not another player I can say the same about this year.
His age, being in a smaller market, backing up a more renowned superstar in Miguel Cabrera, and lack of superstar status himself, is what deprives him from the same spotlight that shines over Mike Trout.
Without regard to anything outside the physical game of baseball, Victor Martinez should justly be this year’s AL MVP.