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Mike Trout: Fantasy AL MVP

Here are the definitions of each award, but the easiest thing to note is that draft cost is factored into most of our awards.

Well, duh. Even with cost factored in, Mike Trout ‘ran’ away with the hardware here, too. And (duh) nobody on the staff reached for this one, because, man, how many different ways can you say that Mike Trout was awesome this year, especially after all the real-life American League MVP discussions?

Here’s my attempt: Trout was amazingly consistent this year.

Strikeout rate is one of the main inputs in Bill Petti’s volatility calculator, and it makes sense from a real-life standpoint that a player with a lot of strikeouts might have stretches where he’s not adding much with the bat — especially if he doesn’t walk much. Even though Trout’s strikeout rate this year (21.8%) was two percentage points above average, though, Trout wasn’t very volatile.

Or maybe he was, and just oscillated between amazing and awesome:

May 5 21 16 8 0.324 0.39 0.231 23
June 3 27 16 14 0.372 0.438 0.159 17.7
July 10 32 23 9 0.392 0.412 0.412 18.8
August 7 26 19 11 0.284 0.329 0.216 23.9
Sept/Oct 5 23 9 7 0.289 0.378 0.211 25.9

In a way, this is another argument that it’s better to draft studs that contribute in all five categories. Because, sure, some of his months weren’t great if you stare down one aspect of his game. In June, his power was down a bit. Late in the season, he stole fewer bags. But there wasn’t one month on that ledger that you wouldn’t gladly take home to meet your mother.

When his power was down, his contact rate was up, and his BABIP was through the roof. He stole 14 bags in the month that only featured three home runs. When his power was up, his contact rate and BABIP were down a little, but the added power helped him survive the dip. A .284 batting average in your worst month is pretty sexy.

Should we worry about the trend in strikeout rates? Coupled with the trend in his BABIP? After all, if the two continue, he’s likely to have a much worse batting average next season.

Well, for one, his ‘bad’ BABIPs were pretty good, and his production in bad BABIP months would make for great full-season paces, too.

And his strikeout rate? His swinging strike rates never once were worse than league average. Here they are from May on, thanks to Jeff Zimmerman: 5.01%, 8.35%, 5.96%, 7.89%, 7.92%. Yes, those latter two numbers are a bit higher than his full-season work. No, it doesn’t really seem like a big deal. He was also swinging less in those two months (35.78 and 37.26% vs 40.85, 43.18 and 40.21%), so maybe he was just looking for home runs after his 10-homer month, and the passivity lead to a few extra swings and misses. The point is that he was very consistent overall, and even the mini-trends in the wrong direction seem like they aren’t a big deal.

Consistency is king. Well, in roto it matters a little less because you get your stats however way they come — as long as you leave your slumper in the lineup and don’t try to spot the streaks. But in head-to-head leagues, having a Steady Eddy like Trout is huge.

And look, I didn’t once mention his most excellent overall stats or Miguel Cabrera in awarding Mike Trout the RotoGraphs Fantasy AL MVP. Ooops.