STARTING POINTS: A look back at the MVP race that wasn’t

POINT ONE: Voters throw Trout back

The AL MVP race turned out not to be as close as many thought with Miguel Cabrera winning the vote over Mike Trout, garnering 22 of the 28 first-place votes. The lopsided win didn’t end the debate, which makes sense. If you believed in Trout’s gaudy numbers before, your mind wouldn’t change. But reading some of the explanations from many of the Cabrera voters the same refrain kept coming up, Trout’s sluggish last 40 games. In essence,  with about 40 games left in the season, both the Angels and Tigers were about three games out of a playoff spot, the Angels in the wild-card and the Tigers in the AL Central. Trout finished the year with one of his worst 40-game stretches while Cabrera flourished. Some, rightfully in my opinion, brought up the fact that Trout missed one-eighth of the season, surmising that Cabrera was valuable for his team for 162 games while Trout was only valuable to his team for 142. Others gave Cabrera a bump for changing positions to accommodate the addition of Prince Fielder. All different ways in which a player can be considered valuable to his team. No one said, “Well, he won the triple crown, so I had to give it to him.” Amid all the discussions and sabermetrics and debates, a stodgy Sporting News writer explained his thinking in a simple way that never occurred to me. With all of Trout’s greatness the Angels finished third in the West. Without Trout they would have finished third in the West. While the Tigers with Cabrera won the Central and without him would have finished second. Strangely simple. Like all MVP debates, it comes down to the voters’ take on if they’re picking “the best player” or “the most valuable player.” As I said in my column Wednesday, I favored Cabrera because I believe that Trout capitalized on pitchers not knowing his strenths and weaknesses early in the season. Then, once pitchers figured him out a little, his numbers dropped from epically good, to just pretty good, even though the total season still remained one of the greatest of all time. In other words, had he played a full season with pitchers knowing how to pitch to him like Cabrera did, his numbers wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive. That brings me to my next point …

POINT TWO: Trout’s MVP future

This won’t be the last time Trout is in the running for the MVP, and I’m sure it’s not the last time he’ll lead the league in WAR, but following up on my point about the pitchers now having a book on him, I think it’s fair to assume that Trout will never have a year as amazing as this one. He’s going to be fantastic for year’s to come, don’t get me wrong Angels fans, but this was a once-in-a-career year. I could see Trout certainly knock on the door of 40 homers-40 steals every year, his averages and on-base percentages and those type of things may go down. The truth is, it’s hard to picture Trout and Cabrera not being in the MVP mix the next five years. It should be fun.

POINT THREE: If an NFL games is Thursday in Buffalo, does it make a sound?

Thursday night the Bills beat the Dolphins 19-14. So … that was nice.

POINT FOUR: Back to the Major League MVP races

Just some interesting MVP-related nuggets: Albert Pujols did not finishing in the top 10 for the first time in his career … Akron Beacon Journal writer Sheldon Ocker voted Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre second in the AL ahead of Trout, everyone else had Cabrera and Trout first and second in some order … Buster Posey’s had a decent three-year start to his career. Rookie of the Year, two World Series titles and now an MVP. … Venezuela is feeling proud of its pipeline, weeks after Pablo Sandoval won the World Series MVP, Cabrera becomes the first Venezuelan to win MVP … The Tigers won back-to-back AL MVPs with Justin Verlander winning it last year (the Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins were the last to accomplish the feat) … The last time the two MVPs played each other in the World Series was 1988 when Kirk Gibson’s Dodgers beat Jose Canseco’s A’s. …

MONDAY MORNING HEADLINE: D’Antoni Does It

Sunday is the planned first game at the helm of the Lakers for new coach Mike D’Antoni when the Purple and Gold host Houston. I’ll throw out a final score of Lakers 111, Rockets 102. The offense is clicking, they hold James Harden to 49 points and start the D’Antoni era off right.

BONUS SUNDAY MORNING HEADLINE: Trojans burst Bruins’ bubble

I love the way the Bruins are playing and the future looks bright, but this round goes to the Trojans who salvage an uneventful season with rivalry wins over UCLA and Notre Dame. Final score USC 40, UCLA 30.

WEEKEND SHOUTOUT: Goes to the La Quinta boys’ water polo team. They go for the CIF title on Saturday and after knocking off No. 1 Malibu in the semifinals, I like their chances. Stay with our twitter account at @mydesert_sports for live scoring updates.

Have a nice weekend.