Standing amidst the freshly clipped outfield grass in anticipation of one’s first playoff game has to conjure up a mixture of excitement and nerves, as the two emotions see-saw for supremacy of their owner’s heart and mind. So it was, in 2014, for a former first round pick. Drafted in 2009, the outfielder might have lost his ethereal glaze but he can still fly, and did so, homering in the divisional series.
Of course I’m talking about Randal Grichuk, the man selected one spot ahead of Mike Trout in 2009, and the man currently one round further than Trout in the playoffs. Though the Angels have improved the level of talent around their young superstar — adding Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, and others in recent years — it’s clear that they lack the teamwork to take it to the next level.
In Grichuk, the Cardinals acquired a player some might see as not talented enough to have done the things that Trout has, but others might recognize that he doesn’t have the ego to need to do the things Trout has. Grichuk is more than happy to play the team game, taking his starts where he can get them, and making the most of them too. After all, it wasn’t Mike Trout who homered off Clayton Kershaw in the playoffs, was it?
Now don’t count me as one of those old fogeys who can’t stand for these new-fangled statistics, or metrics. I love the concept of wins above replacement in that it’s attempting to measure everything a player contributes on the field, from offense to defense to baserunning. But it can’t measure heart. It can’t tell us what impact a well timed “let’s go now” has on the game. Or a firm slap to the butt. That’s camaraderie of the highest degree, and it will get you farther than any fancy number can. The Dodgers showed us that all the zeroes at the end of a check mean what if you can’t cash it come October? You guessed it. Zilch.
So Mike Trout is running away with AL Player of the Year. He earned it. Feel free to give him some golf claps if you like, because he’s on the golf course right now while Randal Grichuk is preparing for a playoff game.
Feel free to vote with your heart or your mind, here, as voting doesn’t close until October 17th. A small programming note: While these updates have been daily since October 1, next weeks might be slightly more infrequent.
AL Player of the Year
The rest of the tables remain the same as yesterday, so rather than re-paste them, check out that post!
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