It's easy to be seduced by numbers -- 73 home runs, a 1.87 ERA at the age of 42 -- but we know how those stories ended.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were ultimately disgraced, run before a jury and made into punchlines and cautionary tales. Clemens was aquitted of lying to Congress while Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice and sentenced to 30 days home confinement. Bonds is appealing the verdict, but the damage is done for both men.
There's a great divide on whether either player should attain induction into the Hall of Fame. Some say that performance enhancing drugs should eliminate you from the running (I'm one of them), citing a player's character and morality as a serious consideration. Others make a compelling argument that an accomplishment is an accomplishment, and we never have banned players who took amphetamines.
But now we're faced with this situation that again allows astounding stats to cloud our view of character and morality.
Heading into the final day of the regular season, Miguel Cabrera leads the American League in batting average (.331), home runs (44) and RBIs (139). He's on track to become the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. And nothing he's done in the past can rob him of the accomplishment. It's something you do, not something you're voted for.
However, many of those who fuss and fume over Bonds and Clemens are standing amazed at Cabrera this season, championing him for MVP -- and completely forgetting his troubling past.
Before this season began, Cabrera pleaded no contest in Florida to charges of drunken driving after he refused to take a field sobriety test. Charges of resisting an officer without violence and having an open container in a vehicle were dropped. The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office told ESPN at the time that Cabrera had even taken a swig from a bottle of scotch in front of a deputy.
A year earlier Cabrera's wife, Roseangel, called 911 to report an episode of domestic violence after Cabrera came home “following a night of heavy drinking.” Reports said that Cabrera had an injury to the left side of his face, while his wife had an injury on her lower lip.
But those incidents are forgotten in the rush of euphoria caused by the possibility of the first Triple Crown in 45 years.
The Hall of Fame examines what a player did over his entire career while the MVP only takes into account the season at hand. That would seem to eliminate any discussion of the alleged domestic abuse incident. However, that story, combined with the Florida incident, show a pattern.
And the MVP voting rules include this criteria: “General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.” Though the criteria also includes the word "valuable," and voters argue over the meaning of that word, too.
Throwing aside the statistical arguments for Cabrera vs. Mike Trout (or anyone else), do his bad decisions make him a tough choice for MVP?
Or do gaudy numbers once again obscure all flaws?