How is it that Cabrera posted a 1.151 OPS over much of August and September, while Trout was around .850 for those months, and yet Trout has a higher WAR? There must be a huge defensive adjustment in there, which wouldn’t completely surprise me I suppose as Miggy was playing on 1 or 2 ankles for a while there at 3B, so he could have gotten graded as awful.
fume, Cabrera has about 1 1/2 as much hitting WAR in August/September, but Trout has defense and baserunning WAR that put him ahead of Miguel.
Comment by vivalajeter — October 1, 2012 @ 7:50 pm
While I certainly agree that Trout is the best MVP choice, I think looking at September WAR doesn’t quite capture the “Miggy got it done when it mattered most” argument. In terms of WPA, for instance, Trout turned in a September mark of .12 (with a -.40 clutch score), while Cabrera had a .82 mark (-.02 clutch).
With that in mind, it seems like neither one was really tearing it up when his team needed him most, but you could at least argue that Cabrera performed better in those situations.
You imply that the next-to-last paragraph actually gives details, when in fact all it says is that, “he falls short in WAR because of everything else.” Thanks Mr. Sullivan: you used enough words on your meta-talk that you didn’t need to meet your quota through actual analysis. Disappointing.
Nice job, gobears – it only took you 3 comments in to bash the article. FanGraphs commenters quickly reached their quota of needlessly assholish comments right away! Hey, free awesome content about baseball… let’s talk shit about it!
The problem with WAR when it comes to the AL MVP debate is the degree to which it factors in defense. I guess you could factor in defense in MVP discussions but historically defense has never been a deciding factor in selecting a MVP, at least not to my knowledge. The last time a player known primarily for defense won an MVP was pudge in 1999, which happened to be by far his best offensive season. If you ignore defense (maybe not fair, but certainly with precedent) Cabrera should be the MVP.
If, or when, Miguel Cabrera wins the MVP award this season pretty handily (which I think will happen), I’d like to see a concerted effort to explain in easy-to-understand terms the positive impact that baserunning (which Mike Trout obviously excels at) has on his team’s performance, along with an emphasis on the negative impact that grounding into double plays (which Cabrera does at a high rate of frequency) has on a team’s performance. I will say that we still have a ways to go toward accurately quantifying defensive performance and its overall impact on a team’s performance but I’d like to think that we’re getting there.
In other words, the stat geek community will likely realize that it still has some work to do if/when Cabrera wins the award fairly easily, but the stat geek community should take pride in the fact that they are making headway, and also recognize that there are specific areas that they need to do a better job of addressing in easy-to-understand terms. We’re never going to get rid of the dinosaurs out there but there are fewer dinosaurs now than there were ten years ago and I’d like to think the number of dinosaurs will continue to decline over time.
In this case, as in many others we are likely to beat the dinosaurs just because we will outlive them.
Comment by Uncle Remus — October 1, 2012 @ 9:04 pm
Okay, honest question. Can someone explain to me why Cabrera doesn’t get credit for RBI’s because they’re a function of team and where he hits in the line-up, but double plays count against him? So runners on base are his fault when bad things happen, but not when good things happen?
I don’t have a dog in this fight (NL fan, MVPosey yo), I just think it’s weird that runners are selectively counted against a hitter. Especially when it makes your guy look better.
This truly is a joke… WAR is garbage in this argument. Cabrera is playing the toughest position on the field, not to mention the fact that he re-learned to do it in about a month. Trout has no competition at this position outside of Hamilton. Ellsbury has been a non-factor, and we are not even going to make the joke of including Granderson in this conversation… and Trout gets a .5% bump in WAR because of his position. Cabrera, Lawrie, Beltre, Longoria, Middlebrooks, Youkilis, A-rod, Reynolds, Machado, Callaspo. These are the AL competition that Cabrera is up against in determining WAR. Trout has nothing compared to this.
Comment by redwingfan_138 — October 1, 2012 @ 9:39 pm
I was one of the people saying that Miggy deserves the MVP based on how the numbers were coming out.
In a host of offensive situations (not just raw batting average or power numbers) Miguel was better…. until the last 10 days.
He is doing better tonight, but that doesn’t erase what happened the past 10 days to offset the truly absurd May through July Trout had. There’s still a case for Miguel. (His offensive advantage, that he hits far better in the clutch, that WAR measures models, not actual results, that Trout’s decline offensively corresponded with the Angels fading, etc.) Yet the case for Trout is not only equally strong, but probably a bit stronger now after Miguel’s weak finish. Trout had a truly incredible first 3 months, and his speed and gold-glove caliber defense mean something.
So while I still pull for the hometown guy, I’ll no longer view it an insult if Trout is MVP.
Is it really with precedent? Part of the reason that Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Keith Hernandez, Albert Pujols, Joe Morgan, Roberto Clemente, Joe Dimaggio, Brooks Robinson, Pudge Rodriguez, Willie McGee, Jeff Bagwell, Jimmy Rollins, Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro, etc . . . won MVP awards was because they were considered great, if not all time great, defensive players at their position. I mean Pudge won in a year where three players put up pantheon seasons: Pedro, Manny and Jeter. Why? I’d have to say defensive reputation was a primary factor.
Part of the reason Chase Utley was never considered is because people have always considered, rather wrongly, that he is deficient at defense at second base. Of course he sometimes botches a routine play. But he makes many non routine ones as well.
The same is true for Piazza. Why did he never win an MVP? Partially because of defense.
I think he’s arguing that WAR factors in your peers in determining/guesstimating the replacement level. Miggy’s 3B peers are clearly better than Trout’s CF ones, ergo His WAR is understated compared to Trout’s.
Last I saw, WAR does do this. Tho’ I sure hope I got that wrong and it doesn’t.
And while it might be heresey to speak against Sancte Michael of Anaheim, let’s not say “Trout has been slumping, relative to himself.”
On things which one can actually measure, Trout hasn’t really been that impressive in September. Decent, but one wouldn’t see the offensive numbers he puts up and view it anything other than a typical rookie.
And one wouldn’t look at his defensive numbers the past month and say hands down they are above the rest. Yet, in Trout’s defense, you win an MVP over an entire season, not just one month, even if that one month is at the end.
Though an interesting thought expirement: how much of an MVP’s title comes from him having the strongest (or at least stronger) last month? Kind of like how the question “are you better off than you were four years ago” normally means “what have you done for me lately?”
I don’t think “tougher division” is much of an argument. Trout doesn’t have to pitch to the Rangers, nor does he have to face the Angels rotation. Sure the West is deeper then the Central, but you’re making a blanket argument without paying attention to the context. Are the West pitchers, sans Angels, that much tougher then what the Central offer to justify the argument you’re trying to make? I don’t know…
Feel free to contribute this to my most basic understanding of how UZR is calculated but how much of an effect does Jhonny Peralta have on Miguel Cabrera’s UZR rating? Would a more range-y shortstop be able to hide some of the plays Miguel has been penalized for? And could the reverse contribute to Trout’s positive UZR with Torii Hunter having a a decent year out in right?
As I said my knowledge of UZR is limited so be easy on me.
Player 1: 163 wRC+ .413 wOBA
Player 2: 172 wRC+ .419 wOBA
Player 1: Below average defense at corner infield
Player 2: Above average defense at premium defensive position
Trout’s been more productive offensively if you believe in wRC+ and he’s produced more value defensively than Cabrera. Trout has been better the better player all year and that’s all that matters to me for MVP.
Good article Jeff. Until a few weeks ago I really thought Trout was a lock to win. Really surprised at how heated the debate has become.
Comment by Caveman Jones — October 1, 2012 @ 11:12 pm
Yeah, Crumpled. Bagwell definitely won that MVP for his stellar defense.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 1, 2012 @ 11:13 pm
And the same goes for Pujols
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 1, 2012 @ 11:13 pm
You can’t blame Cabrera for double plays without crediting him for RBI. Trout hits more ground balls than Cabrera does, he just never has someone on base in front of him because he bats leadoff.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 1, 2012 @ 11:17 pm
Cabrera has 20.97 RE24 over the past 2 months
Trout has 9.22 RE24 over the same period.
They may be comparable in a context-neutral setting, but baseball is not actually context neutral, as much as we might like it to be.
Of course, Trout beats him out in RE24 over the season, but the narrative that Trout is folding over the stretch run is not unfounded.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 1, 2012 @ 11:28 pm
Also, Bryce Harper has 16.05 RE24 over the past two months, therefore:
(Sorry, had to)
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 1, 2012 @ 11:30 pm
That’s part of it, but also, Trout could possibly get to second base on a ground ball before Cabrera got to first.
That is clearly not the argument bring made. The argument is that havibg a reputation as a poor defender has historically had a negative impact on your chances and having a reputation as gold glove defender has a positive impact.
There are of course several players that have won with poor defensive reputations, like rysn howard or frank thomas. There’s a reason however why there’s far more players who have won with positive defensive reputations. Because it has historically been to a greater or lesser degree a consideration.
Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — October 1, 2012 @ 11:53 pm
That September is the most important month, or even that September games “matter most”, is a fallacy, I think. Over the course of a season, games in April are worth the same as games in September. A player who adds 3 wins to their team in April but none the rest of the year is just as valuable as a player who adds 3 wins to their team in September and none the rest. It may seem like the September player is performing “when the team needs him most” because we are more certain of the importance of these games, but looking at the season retrospectively, each game is equally important to the final record. We should reward overall performance, regardless of when that performance comes during the course of the season.
On a side note, this is also a reason that WPA is flawed as a valuation tool, since when we look at games retrospectively, each inning is equally important to the end result.
Where’d the 83 RBI come from (or ok, the 53 not from homers)?
Comment by Guillermo Frijole — October 2, 2012 @ 12:09 am
I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite, at least for outfielders. UZR divides the baseball fields into hundreds of zones and then makes calculations of the number of plays on average a player makes in that zone versus other players in the league. (I don’t think it’s coincidence that, it seemed at least on cursory inspection, Adam dunn’s or manny ramirez’s teammates often did quite well in this metric, or close. because they had plays available for them that average corner outfielders would have made.)
So playing besides good outfielders could possibly have a detriment on your zone rating, since zones can overlap quite a bit. It’s unlikely however that any player will affect a 3b rating because of where he plays on the diamond. I think it might be possible that a great defensive 3b could marginally affect a as rating, but it would be unlikely.
Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — October 2, 2012 @ 12:10 am
If this were a math test maybe. Its not. Saber folks actually lose credibility when they try and make arguments like that. Late innings close games nerves get involved. Different pitchers come for match up purposes. Closers come in during the 9th.
Would you actually propose to tell me that a HR in the 4th inning of a 7-0 game means as much as a walkoff in the 9th of a tie game?
Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams TWICE, Rogers Hornsby, and Chuck Klein all won the Triple Crown but no the MVP.
Comment by vegascubsfan — October 2, 2012 @ 12:24 am
Has anyone adjusted cabrera’s numbers? He does play in a division with 3 pitchers parks and he gets to face awful pitching regularly.
Comment by Antonio bananas — October 2, 2012 @ 12:31 am
I agree that Trout should be MVP (and I’m a Tigers fan!), but quoting GIDP is laughable, as total GIDP is as context dependent as RBI and runs.
Of course Cabrera has more GIDP than Trout; there are more runners on base when he bats, and he played a full month more than Trout. Discounting Miggy’s positive context-based counting stats, while counting his negative context-based counting stats, is simply embarrassing.
There is an easy, good argument to be made for Trout over Miggy as MVP. This argument does NOT involve GIDP.
When Hornsby won the triple crown the first time the AL was the only league giving an MVP, hence no MVP was even possible for him.
In the other cases, it may have had something to do with the Triple Crown winners not making the playoffs, while the MVPs did (Carl Hubbel instead of Klein; Mickey Cochrane instead of Gehrig). The Ted Williams seasons fall under this as well, in addition to him being generally loathed by the press. As stupid as that reasoning may be, those cases aren’t really comparable either, as Cabrera’s team is playoff bound.
As a Cabrera fan, I’ll still wager an endless amount of money that Miguel Cabrera isn’t going to win a gold glove at third base. If so, a gold glove has lost all meaning. (okay, so it sorta has already, but you get my point.)
With the exception of Anaheim, he tends to downright abuse teams with a winning record. Hitting .368 against teams plus 500. If it weren’t for Anaheim outright taming him (6 for 30 lol) the numbers would look downright stupid. Take Chicago out of that mix if allegedly they inflate his numbers. He is still hitting .371. In other words, no, it doesn’t really matter. He had a HR% of 7 in his regular at bats…. and a HR% of 7 against teams with a winning record.A full 46% of his hits come against those teams with a winning record, and he had 41% of his at bats. Now are all of those guys Cy Young candidates? Of course not. Someone can break down the numbers against each individual pitcher with this or that baseline stat and the reasoning behind it, but that really doesn’t matter.
There are reasons Miguel Cabrera should not be MVP. This isn’t one of them.
So it really wouldn’t be fair to “weight” the numbers, when there is a real indication that he would be just as if not as abusive to even the “better” teams.
That’s the point exactly. I think the context is the mainstream baseball media commenting so much on Triple Crown (RBIs!) while rarely bringing up the other side of the coin. The fangraphs crowd should know better.
Good point about Rollins, though. He must been legendary with the glove considering that he wasn’t even close to the best player on his team in 2007.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 3:21 am
First of all let me say that I think Trout should win the MVP, but I think it’s closer than a lot of the more stats inclined people would like to believe. One of my main problems is the quantification of defensive stats, or lack there of. UZR is the main reason why Trout beats our Cabrera in term of WAR, and the huge difference between their WAR values has been the easiest justification to use for the Trout MVP case. The problem with this is that single season UZR values are notoriously unreliable, in fact from the fangraphs page about UZR it says this: “Before drawing any conclusions about a player’s defense, look at a full three years of defensive data”
Personally I don’t believe Trout’s defense is worth as much as much as WAR is giving him credit for, partly because I think UZR is being influenced by how good his left and right fielders are, meanwhile Cabrera is playing next to Jhonny Peralta, who while surehanded might have the smallest range of any shortstop in baseball.
Also the idea from this article that you can look at single month WAR values and gain any insightful insight from them is laughable. Cabrera has drastically outperformed Trout with his bat in August and September, yet you say Trout has been more valuable in those months. Fangraphs, the king site of preaching “DONT LOOK AS SMALL SAMPLE SIZE, ESPECIALLY FOR DEFENSIVE STATS” is trying to use small sample size UZR numbers, and thru them small sample size WAR numbers to make. I find this amusing.
There was a great article from Dave a few weeks back on Cabrera vs Trout where he walks through the argument of whether to count DP’s and RBI’s, etc. I thought it was pretty solid.
Long and short of it – you really have to stretch reason and logic to find a justification for voting in Cabrera. Trout has been just as valuable with the bat, is an elite defender in a critical defensive position, and is one of the best baserunners in the game. Outside of the playoffs argument and down the stretch argument there just isn’t much to support a Cabrera MVP vote.
My point was that the people hitting directly in front of Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson and Quintin Berry, are much more likely to be on base in any given plate appearance than are the people hitting in front of Mike Trout, Maicer Izturis/Erick Aybar and Chris Ianetta/Bobby Wilson.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 4:00 am
(Much less the National League)
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 4:01 am
Peralta may be bad, but it’s not like he’s approaching Jeterian levels in his lack of range.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 4:04 am
Trout and Cabrera are a wash offensively.
Trout plays the more difficult position.
Trout fields his position as well as anyone in baseball. Miggy is passable at best.
Trout is an elite baserunner. Miggy is a clogger.
Trout was better offensively in May, June, and July. Miggy was better in August, Sept.
I don’t understand how this is remotely a debate. Unless you throw out baserunning, positional difference, and defense AND weight one month higher than the previous 4 months AND you give extra credit for a guy who’s team is going to the playoffs (but plays in a worse division sporting a worse record) it’s a slam dunk. Trout has been the superior player without question IMO.
One could argue that Trout has a better supporting cast than Cabrera does, the Angels excluding Trout have produced 30 more wRC than have the Tigers excluding Cabrera.
Therefore Cabrera is more essential to the success of the Tigers? Honestly just spitballing here.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 4:21 am
The funny thing is Miggy has a career 900 OPS in late and close situations, this year just like all the previous ones are just random results, if you believe in clutch though, than miggy would be opposite of it.
“Trout hasn’t really been that impressive in September,” but the article states that he has the 2nd-highest WAR (after Adrian Beltre) among American League position players in that span. So, maybe refute the value of WAR while making your argument?
At the same time, if small sample size were mattering, you’d expect to see random results among monthly WAR leaders: Trout, Cabrera, Francoeur, Beltre, Pierzynski… Instead, you see Trout, Trout, Trout, Trout, almost Trout.
Whatever WAR is measuring, 2012 Mike Trout has been consistently extraordinarily good at it.
They may be more likely to be in front, but they’re probably also faster as a whole though, which would probably help reduce GIDP.
Not saying the Angels’ bottom-of-the-order has zero speed of course, but when MCab gets to bat, there’s pretty good likelihood that 1B is either empty or has a speedster (that helps reduce the likelihood of GIDP). It’s certainly going to be pretty rare for him to have anyone other than Jackson, Berry or Infante (since his acquisition) at 1B when he comes to bat — Infante’s not exactly a speedster, but he’s not slow though (and won’t likely be at 1B for an MCab PA whenever he bats 9th).
LAA did not make the playoffs which will result in Trout NOT winning the AL MVP.
Their is not one damn thing that anyone can do to change, alter this simple fact. Where is the story here? Fangraphs and their ilk is acting the same way Al Gore did circa 2000. Only you guys don’t have the hope of a Supreme Court intervention. And if the sabr clones are thinking that they may be “the peoples choice,” think again and see a poll at The sweet Spot where 72% of 5,500 respondents indicated that Cabrera deserves the AL MVP outright. Cabrera will be the MVP and history forgets losers.
1. What would suggest is of value that WAR doesn’t measure?
2. There are margins of error on WAR such that we shouldn’t just anoint the leader in WAR the MVP.
Comment by suicide squeeze — October 2, 2012 @ 7:49 am
There is an argument to be made that there is value in just being in the lineup and enduring all but a few games of the 162 game season which Cabrera did and Trout did not. It’s obvious that Trout has been fading offensively over the past two months even with missing the first month and that he will still finish the season with less than 140 games played. Cabrera will have played in at least 158 games.
If we say amount of games played in does not matter, did Trout even have to play this last month or was he the winner before? After all, many anointed him the winner at the start of September based on WAR which wasn’t going to go down based on games missed. Could he have played in 120 games and watched the Angels miss the playoffs and still be MVP? 110? I would say that is absolutely ridiculous and points to the fallacy of just looking at a statistic and calling it a day in deciding the MVP.
Isn’t that in Trout’s favor though… Miggy’s 3rd base peers are better, meaning he is basically more fungible; Therefore, Trout is far superior to every other CF in baseball, which i think speaks to his “value”, particularly relative to the competition.
You don’t need to overstate the argument; 3b isn’t first, it still counts as a premium posistion (frankly, seems as hard to fill with a decent bat/glove combo as SS/Catcher/CF). CF is probably higher up the heirarchy.
But trout is still better, I will never understand why a generation of sports writers seemed determined to be remembered as moron’s/luddites/etc. It’s going to be great hearing my kids dump on these guys in 20 years, and what do you say? Well most of the mainstream journalists weren’t held to the same standards of rationality that engineers, architects, doctors, etc etc etc were…?
Nope, appeals to authority, straw man arguments, oddly fallacious historical arguments (seriously, if I hear one more “If the Triple Crown winner doesn’t win the MVP, it proves the award is a joke”. Yea, like THAT hasn’t happened before). Now some joker above is arguing that Miggy is the “People’s choice” because of some poll on the Sweet Spot; Considering the…passion, demonstrated all over the internet by Tiger’s fans, it couldn’t POSSIBLY be a participation bias in the sampling methodology of a free to use, vote as much as you want just find it, poll. Never.
While it is plainly obvious he is a superior defender to someone like Miggy… is he a better defender than Austin Jackson?
In 2011 AJAX saved over 29 runs using DRS. In 2012 he has saved exactly 0. He also has made 0 errors in 2012.
That stark (and ridiculous contrast) is why a system like WAR has Mike Trout having amazing months when his OPS was 300 points lower.
I’m not saying Trout doesn’t deserve the MVP – I am saying that the race is MUCH closer than the 10 WAR vs 6 WAR arguement. It’s more like a 7 vs 5 WAR in my own opinion, though I am just estimating on how much the defensive component is weighted.
Maybe break down the table instead of WAR rank overall by month, but WAR rank by component. A lot of details are being lost / obfuscated… imo
Yes, the pitching in the West is better than the pitching in the Central. Also, Trout had more games against good non-division teams (such as the Rays, who have great pitching) on account of playing in the small division.
See virtually every MVP vote from the 1930s-1960s… you’ll see and awful lot of C, CF, and SS. Not guys who led the league in big offensive stats, but guys who played key defensive positions while having career years offensively (exactly like Pudge in ’99). It’s actually a longstanding tradition to factor in defense. More recently, voters have gone for the “easy way out” and picked up on “most RBI from a playoff team.” Before the 1990s, though, that’s really not how MVP votes went (and yes I’m painting with broad strokes, but these are generalizations, which necessitate such things).
I think there’s definitely differences in the value of hits. Some home runs are worth more than others. But Fangraphs has this covered in its win probability numbers — a measurement of how much each player’s at bats added to or took away from their team’s chances to win. Hitting a solo shot while up 8-0 earns little credit, while hitting a walk-off homer earns a lot.
And in this measurement, it’s not even close. Trout has been the much more valuable hitter in WPA. And in “Clutch” — a player’s effect on win probability in high-leverage situations — Cabrera’s been a poor hitter this year…
Comment by Jay Stevens — October 2, 2012 @ 9:14 am
(A) The Angels have a better record than the Tigers. Hard to really pump up the argument about playoffs, etc, with that stubborn fact hanging around.
(B) The Supreme Court did intervene in the 2000 Florida recount, but on behalf of George W Bush. A later independent recount of Florida’s votes did find that Al Gore had more votes and should have won the election. So your analogy is particularly apt: Al Gore had the better case in 2000, and was robbed by a group of grumpy old white men looking towards the past.
Comment by Jay Stevens — October 2, 2012 @ 9:27 am
Rodney and Kimbrell are having historic reliever seasons…but they simply don’t pitch enough to be in the conversation. There should be a reliever award that doesn’t just hand out a trophy to the guy with the most saves, but the best reliever, whether middle, closer, or swingman…of course, the writers aren’t able to include defense or baserunning into their MVP considerations, so they probably couldn’t handle ignoring saves…
Comment by Jay Stevens — October 2, 2012 @ 9:33 am
I don’t get the Trout has to win so Cabrera sucks, or Cabrera is great so Trout’s season is clearly worthless arguments. They are both great. Period. You are not comparing a Bentley to a Kia. You are comparing a Bentley to a Rolls Royce. I would be pumped with either of them. Call me the old white guy in the room, but Triple Crown still has value to me. I give it to Cabrera. I do get the feeling that WAR over-values OF defense. That is more observational than factual I agree. If you wanted to truly argue most valuable, then it is King Felix. Without him why would you ever spend the $$$ to see a Mariners game?
clearly you do not watch tigers baseball. peralta moves like he’s got cinderblocks for shoes. he actually cost verlander his 3rd no-hitter earlier this season with his stunning lack of range on a grounder up the middle
Cabrera is also finding his year to be diminished by the luck factor, whereas Trout is almost surely going to regress from his inflated luck. Adjust for both and Spanish Mike puts up monster numbers. The dastardly OFs got in the way of some more line drives. Unless English Mike is just so damn good that he steers the ball with his mind, which would be totally awesome.
@Crump… I see your point and it is sound logic, but don’t forget that a player having a good defender next to him could allow one to “cheat” a bit farther out of position, e.g. cheating towards the 3rd base line if you think someone might pull/slice one down there. Then he ends up coming up with a play, he might not of otherwise. In a CF’s case, maybe that is shading towards left if in fact the RF is playing defensively well. Maybe the two cancel each other out and I am certainly not arguing that Trout isn’t an amazing defender, but if it were me, I would want the players next to me to be as good or better than average, not worse.
Comment by bcp33bosox — October 2, 2012 @ 10:41 am
Talk all you want about WAR being the only stat that matters, but it won’t be used to determine the MVP. Traditional stats always win over. So pick Ben Zobrist and Mike Trout all you want for thier OBP and UZR. MIguel Cabrera will be the 2012 AL MVP and all this chatter is a waste of space.
Comment by Phillly Freestyle — October 2, 2012 @ 10:42 am
Conveniently, baseballprospectus.com has GIDP stats:
Cabrera has come to the plate 145 times with a runner on first and less than two outs. 5.1% of the time he’s GIDP’ed [28x].
The MLB average is around 2.7%, so an average player given 145 opportunities would GIDP 9.2 fewer times.
Mike Trout has GIDP’ed 7 times in 82 opportunities. An average MLBer would have grounded into 3.4 more DPs.
The average cost of a GIDP versus a an out is around half a run [maybe a little more since the non-GIDP out is more likely to advance a runner than the GIDP], so the net difference from GIDP, taking into account the opportunities for each player, is about 6.3 runs favoring Trout.
BB-ref’s Rdp, agrees, with Trout at +1 and Cabrera at -5.
Exactly. When Braun beat Kemp last year, I was disappointed, but it was hardly outcry-worthy because there wasn’t that much of a difference between them. Cabrera over Trout, on the other hand, would be ridiculous.
Comment by suicide squeeze — October 2, 2012 @ 10:42 am
Oops, “might not have” …damn natural English pronunciation!
Comment by bcp33bosox — October 2, 2012 @ 10:43 am
Defensive stats are going to sometimes fluctuate wildly just like other stats. Much like Adam Dunn has 30 or so more HRs this year, it’s possible that Jacskon is 30 runs worse.
Comment by suicide squeeze — October 2, 2012 @ 10:44 am
While many of the actual voters may not factor in WAR, I imagine some do, but who here said WAR is the only thing that matters? I would agree Cabrera has a lot of support in the traditionalist stat community and he very well may end up with the award for helping his team make the playoffs and possibly winning the triple crown, but why bother commenting if it is a “waste of space”? Talking baseball, even when I am wrong is not a waste of space to me. I for one would think it is pretty neat if Miggy wins the TC. It’d be the first of my lifetime. I would be happy for him if he won the MVP as well because, let’s face it value is subjective and the player who I feel is the most valuable, has not always won the award. Last year to me that was Jacoby Ellsbury, and even though it was hard to argue against Verlander, it was still fun to try…
Comment by bcp33bosox — October 2, 2012 @ 10:57 am
He’s the first rookie ever to hit 30hr and steal 40 bases. Isn’t that more rare than a triple crown?
If Trout ends up 30/50 is that good enough for you? Only 2 other players have ever done it. (Barry Bonds and I can’t remember #2)
Now don’t get me wrong, I love WAR when debating best players, but not necessarily most valuable. It has always bugged me that WAR judges off a theoretical average replacement player, not the actual replacement players available in an organization. This makes it’s perception of value somewhat distorted. If you’re at all intrigued, follow me after the jump for a little math and hopefully some new light being shed on the AL MVP race.
Methodology: As previously stated, WAR judges all players off of the same baseline, which makes it a decent tool for raw comparisons of two players  . By utilizing Baseball References WAR stat, I intend to evaluate Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera’s Wins Above Team Eligible Replacement. This will be done by dividing total player WAR by their games played this season. then subtracting Miguel Cabrera’s WAR/game from his available replacement, and the same for Mike Trout. Then re-multiplying out by their total games played this season.
The Replacements: Obviously, a few assumptions are made herein. The primary one being that both the Angels and the Tigers would be satisfied playing their theoretical replacements, and would make no moves to upgrade the positions over the course of the season. Also that no defensive alignment changes would be made, ie- Torii Hunter shifted to center in LA, or Jhonny Peralta making the move to third in Detroit, allowing for differential replacements. Finally, any prospects in either system will be treated as replacement level players, with a net impact of zero. Prospects are generally too hit and miss for me to want to take them into account.
I will utilize the MLB.com team depth charts to base my analysis, this means the WATER replacements are Danny Worth and Peter Bourjos. Though, the stat could be calculated using any other available replacements, ie- Don Kelly and Vernon Wells, if you so desired.
Miguel Cabrera: 6.5 WAR over 158 games, WAR/game=0.04114
Mike Trout: 10.5 WAR over 136 games, WAR/game=0.07721
Danny Worth: -0.3 WAR over 41 games, WAR/game=-0.00732
Peter Bourjos: 1.2 WAR over 98 games, WAR/game=0.01224
Miguel Cabrera WATER/game=0.04114+.00732=0.04846
Mike Trout WATER/game=0.07721-0.01224=0.06497
Miguel Cabrera WATER= 7.657
Mike Trout WATER= 8.836
Analysis: What was originally a 4 WAR gap shrinks to slightly over 1. That is still a statistically significant advantage for Trout. But not an overwhelming one. How much do you as an individual value a players contributions over the final month of the season? What is the value of a team making the playoffs?
Mike Trout is without a doubt the best player in the American league this season. However, accounting for the available replacements on each team, the fact that the Tigers will most likely reach the post season while the Angels watch from home, and the fact that Miguel Cabrera came through when his team needed it the most while Mike Trout “scuffled” (VERY relatively, frankly speaking) I firmly believe the Miguel Cabrera is the Most Valuable Player in the American League.
A team of 9 Mike Trouts plays a team of 9 Miguel Cabreras … they each get the same 5 pitchers, throwing the same exact pitches, but they have to field the 8 other positions on defense and they both DH. They play 162 games against each other. I’d not only choose the Trouts, I’d pick them to win 100+…lol
Comment by bcp33bosox — October 2, 2012 @ 11:13 am
Fun stuff, thanks for sharing…
Comment by bcp33bosox — October 2, 2012 @ 11:16 am
I did miss that. I swear it wasn’t in there when I read it but I was finishing up a long day at work so I did miss it.
It’s still pretty amazing that the current metrics can take a guy hitting like Babe Ruth and a guy hitting like Bobby Abreu and declare the latter better because of base running and defense. Although I’d have to imagine UZR sample size makes that uncertaintly creep up.
Watching a lot of Tigers games over the past several years, it honestly seems like Jackson is not getting many of those ‘tough’ plays that you can score points with UZR on. Everything is easy or impossible. I don’t think he’s worse as a fielder this year or that there’s anything wrong with the people grading him on DRS, it’s all in the batted ball.
Didn’t those same morons/luddites/etc. give King Felix the Cy Young despite a horrible W/L record?
If they view the award as being attached to getting into post season play, and feel like the slugger whose team was in second place had a huge last two months of the season to help get his team into the playoffs is more worthy than the guy who had a beast of a season but his team slipped to third, is that so moronic. Whether you feel like the MVP is an MOP that is your opinion. It does not mean the voters are morons, because they don’t take the yearly fluctuations in UZR as the difference in these two players.
I don’t care who wins, but the air of superiority of some posters is rather of putting. Especially when so much of that feeling of overbearing enlightment is tied up in a metric that is readily stated has its detractions.
The most logical argument that a traditionalist could make (aside from making the playoffs or not), on the unlikely account that one were bothered, is that defense and stolen bases are a step or two removed from winning games:
Get to playoffs
by hitting (TB) /pitching (ERA/RA) / defense
So there’s a bit of uncertainty there in that Trouts 10 WAR translates to all of that, or at least more uncertaintly than Miggy’s WAR, because not every single and steal is going to lead to a run (still needs to get batted in) and not every great catch is going to prevent a run (base-runner(s) could score anyways, next batter may not bat him in).
So it’s not that a team of Trouts will beat a team of Cabrera’s, but there’s less uncertainty in Cabrera’s 34 total RBI/run advantage (altho almost all of that advantage is due to GP).
I may well be wrong, but doesn’t the value of a win go up toward the end of a season. I thought I read that as the deadline for trading approaches, the value of adding wins to a play-off chasing team goes up. So theoretically, a win in May is not the same in September. Like I said, I could be wrong and a win is a win.
“Cabrera is also finding his year to be diminished by the luck factor, whereas Trout is almost surely going to regress from his inflated luck.”
Perhaps, but I think the MVP voters will be (rightfully) influenced by what *did* happen, not what *should have* happened, or whether either performance is sustainable or represents a “career year”, etc.
@Jay Stevens: thank god FINALLY someone took the time to actually look at the standings and bring this up… this is the thing that’s been driving me nuts the most in this whole discussion. Look, I love Miggy, he’s one of my favourites in the league however the 2 main reasons people want to hand him this award (and I’m getting the sense that he’ll win it) is:
A) Triple Crown
A) The triple crown includes leading the league in RBIs, and I’m not sure if there anyone under 80 years old who still really values that stat. Also, a leadoff hitter will never win the triple crown, because it’s not his no.1 job to drive in runs.
B) As mentioned above; the Angels are simply a better team than the Tigers this year. And it’s not really as close as the total W-L records show. The Angels play in a division with 2 90 win teams; their worst oppenent in that division is a team that can actually pitch. The Tigers are in a division with the 2 worst teams in the AL, and, also, the Royals, and still they have a worse record.
Again, I love Cabrera; however this award should go to the best player in the AL; and there’s just no case whatsoever to make against Trout being that player.
I actually have zero option on Jackson specifically, since DET has been blacked out in BOTH places I have lived this year. It’s entirely possible DRS is completely wrong. I just like pointing out that defensive stats can have wild swings too, because people forget that sometimes.
Comment by suicide squeeze — October 2, 2012 @ 12:27 pm
option = opinion
Comment by suicide squeeze — October 2, 2012 @ 12:28 pm
“Trout is the first player EVER to hit 30 homers, steal 45 bases and score 125 runs in one season.
If you want to toss in his slash line, his 62 extra-base hits, his 92.3 percent stolen-base success rate or any other item on his stat sheet, you’ll find that no player in the history of baseball has combined this much excellence in so many areas in the same season. Again, that phrase was “no player in the history of baseball.”
The MVP Award should be about batting alone (it isn’t, and it never has been). Still, offensive and defensive number together support the idea Trout is the best and most worthy player. Cabrera hasn’t been terrible at 3B, in fact he has been a whole lot better than many people thought he would be. But Trout is a remarkable player and has been since he was called up.
Hard to believe some folks just don’t get it. He is doing things no one else has ever done. What more does it take to be the MVP?
I don’t wanna descend too far into the political swamp, but I couldn’t let this nugget pass:
“So your analogy is particularly apt: Al Gore had the better case in 2000, and was robbed by a group of grumpy old white men looking towards the past.”
It’s always “robbery” when the other guys win. Of course if the justices agree with our position they were enlightened, well-informed and rational, but if they dare choose the other position they are backwards-looking, beholden to special interests, ill-informed, short-sighted, and probably racist, malodorous perverts to boot. It humors me muchly.
(This is a comment equally applicable to both parties, of course. Our own side’s motives, whichever side of the debate we find ourselves on, are always above reproach and pure as the driven snow, and the other side’s always uniformly stupid and evil.)
Also, Soriano scored 128 runs, clubbed 39 homers, and stole 41 bases in 2002.
He also scored 119 runs, clubbed 46 homers, and stole 41 bases in 2006.
In neither case did he finish above third in MVP voting. Arguably, the 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases is harder to do than the arbitrary statistical compilation cited by Stark (just as arbitrary, probably more so than the Triple Crown categories).
So are you telling me that just because Soriano fell 4 stolen bases shy of having 45 stolen bases in 2002, that was the difference between his winning the MVP? This is the same argument used against Cabrera in the scenario where he falls just short of the triple crown and that random compilation of stats is completely irrelevant.
If I were a voter I would also be thinking about how Cabrera switched positions to accomodate other players and be a team player. Downgrading a 1B for his defense at 3B doesn’t really seem fair, especially when a player has put up the offensive numbers he has while learning a new (yet old) position.
Who pushed their team better at the finish? Trout. The Triple Crown is blinding people wrongly. Trout is way better than Miguel “502” Cabrera.
Comment by Frank in LAA of A — October 2, 2012 @ 1:24 pm
Aybar and Izturis are each faster than anyone in the Tigers lineup.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 1:24 pm
“Perhaps, but I think the MVP voters will be (rightfully) influenced by what *did* happen, not what *should have* happened, or whether either performance is sustainable or represents a “career year”, etc.”
I wasn’t basing this on MVP voting so much as “why exactly Miguel (Mike in Spanish) is better on offenise? [sic]”
My main issue here is a lot of the evaluation tools we’re using to figure out who has had the better year are flawed in their own way. Runs are contingent on the people batting behind you, RBI are contingent on those batting in front of you etc.
WAR is a great tool to compare and evaluate players. However I would argue it’s better suited to evaluate similar players. Comparing Trout to Miggy is not realistic by WAR given the impact that Speed has. I am not saying that it shouldn’t be counted in a way, I am saying the way it’s currently quantified is overstated.
If we consider the following.
BABIP, T: .380 C: .330…Is Trout Lucky? Being 80 points above league average on balls in play? Is speed the reason? Is that factored already in his baserunning stats? Or does his speed earn him more base hits than the average player?
K%, T: 21.4% C: 14.0% Difference is 7.4% more of Trout’s ABs end in a strikeout over Miggy. I’ve seen a lot of talk about double plays, and not nearly enough about strikeouts. Again, I assume Trout’ speed is a factor in the number of GIDPs he has hit into.
Speed on defense, speed on the basepaths, speed to boost avg/babip, speed to leg out XBH which improves SLG, OPS etc. It almost seems like we’re giving Trout’s speed credit, 2, 3,4 almost 5 times over.
Speed is a great asset and can make for an incredible and exciting player and a wonderful season. But let’s not sit around and ignore the flaws in the system that allow for us to count over and over again on one aspect of the game.
BTW, how is it that Trout is credited as being better hitter than Cabrera? +57.4 runs to +55.3. Trout has a .005 OBP advantage but Miggy has a .044 SLG advantage, plus 60 more PA. I know OBP is worth more than SLG, but I would think 44 extra SLG should be more desirable than 5 extra OBP.
I think figuring out how impactful Trout’s D is would be better if we had a stat like “outstanding plays” or “plus plays” that was easily available. I think just saying “runs saved” is just such a judgement call at times that it makes people skeptical, and rightly so. Obviously Trout’s D is great, but the way in which WAR calculates defense just makes it tough to truly see precisely how great. Even if Cabrera does get the MVP (and I don’t think he should), Trout is going to win his share of them, so selecting a triple crown winner is certainly not the biggest injustice we’ll ever see. But, if Dickey doesn’t win the Cy Young, I’ll be ready to fight someone.
I was just pointing out an inefficiency in the model. Of course, it’s better to have a team of great defenders, but I think the model’s methodology is clearly flawed in regard to zones in the outfield.
The other way i think it’s flawed is that it judges a defender on average against other players at their position. So if every player at short stop is Ozzie smith good defensively, they will all be downgraded based on that way of evaluating them. And i’m pretty sure the positional adjustment will not make up for it.
(I could be wrong about they, but I asked questions about it to those who would know and none of their responses offered anything that even remotely refuted the notion that a player could be downgraded by the metric if his position were more talent rich. Or upgraded if their position were talent poor. I think it’s part of the readon why you’ll notice a slightly higher percentage of extremely great and extremely terrible uzr seasons at outfield positions than should be expected.)
There are going to be problems with any model that treats some positions as worth less than zero runs (1b, corner of) when those positions are necessary to play the game of baseball. There’s an inherent flaw in the methodology there.
Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — October 2, 2012 @ 2:38 pm
Ok, sorry, everyone. I get it that’s it’s free, and all that. And I’m here because you guys do great work. I’m just anal enough to want the navel-gazing components posted on NotGraphs, so I can see those when I want them, and to have the tasty, meat-filled portion of my baseball analysis over here. I don’t know off the top of my head how much is just positional adjustment, and I don’t know how much is perceived ability at the position. Further, I’m aware of at least some controversy about whether Cabrera is competent or miserable, and I think the article could have been improved by investigating that issue a bit. Apparently stating that was out of line; sorry for having brought it up. Again, I am here every day because I love the site, and especially the analysis. Sorry for not communicating that well in my last comment.
YES. It is so moronic. Crediting players for being on playoff-caliber teams should probably not be used at all, but IF it is used, it should only be in cases where the players are otherwise of practically equal value. Both the Angels and Tigers are clearly playoff-caliber this year, so it’s a non-issue regardless of how stupid it is to be considered part of the criteria.
That Soriano had exactly the same random compilation of numbers and was not an MVP candidate is irrelevant in saying that the random compilation of numbers in question should not be relevant in discussing an MVP candidate?
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 3:10 pm
@suicide squeeze: WAR doesn’t measure situational hitting. It’s methodology is to try to put each player in a neutral context without luck, to as large as an extent as possible. Thus, it is not trying to assert a real world value on a player, but a predictive value of what each player would do “if all things were equal.”
Do you actually believe a grand slam is worth the same as a one run home run? Even if it’s luck to come up with three men on base? WAR says that these two events are equal.
A part of value, even a large part, is being placed, by one’s circumstances, in a situation to be valuable. To use an analogy outside of baseball, there’s a reason why George Washington (the start of the country), Abraham Lincoln (the handling of the civil war), FDR (the depression and the initial onset of WW II) and Eisenhower (the appointment of Warren to the supreme court, the undercutting of McCarthyism, the enforcement of Supreme Court’s ruling to desegregate schools by use of the national guard, and the first Civil Rights Act, not to mention his farewell address warning us to be wary of the Military Industrial Complex) and why Johnson (for his atrocious handling of the civil war’s aftermath) was the worst. Because they were placed in positions to do things that were truly meaningful.
No one baseball event is as significant as those of our country, not even close, but the same is true in baseball. Some events are more valuable than others, even if only because occasion allows it. WAR doesn’t measure that.
Answer to: 1. What would suggest is of value that WAR doesn’t measure?
I hate this word, but one could make a case that WAR doesn’t measure clubhouse “intangibles”- “keeping things loose”, supporting/helping/inspiring teammates, setting a good example, picking up the tab at the bar, being a “leader”, giving awesome pre-game speeches, resolving or not starting conflicts, etc.
Lord knows how much these things influence run production/prevention, but it is likely some non-zero percentage.
WAR is a completely skewed stat like Christian tried to point out except Christrian mistakingly used the WAR stat when comparing the replacements. In the real world I can assure you that putting either Danny Worth or Don Kelly in the lineup for the entire season would have a far greater negative impact on the Tigers than putting Bourjos in or shifting Hunter over and putting Trumbo and Wells at the corners would have for the Angels. All of the Angels options are major league calliber, the same can not be said for Kelly/Worth. Also with Trout being supersonic and all why does Cabrera have more (non-homerun) extra base hits than Trout(40-34)? Cabrera basically walks the bases and had 40 doubles Trout is lightning quick and had 26. Ridiculous!
Trout is a singles machine then steals his way into scoring position, that plays a major factor in RBI as well. If anyone was on base during any of Cabrera’s HR’s or Doubles they scored everytime and quite often would have scored in the 15 seconds it takes him to reach first base on any single hit. Trout can beat out so many balls that would be Cabrera outs it is laughable. So a man on 2nd (say Morales) might not even score on a Trout double. My point being the balls that leave Cabrera’s bat are so much better than the ones that leave Trout’s bat that there even is an MVP debate. If Trout hit like Cabrera but still ran like himself he would score 200+ runs without even trying and there would be no debate. This is why Trout’s BABIP is far better than Cabrera’s.
So my view on fielding is as follows:
Cabrera has 34 more Runs/RBI than Trout…. Did Trout’s fielding result in 34 less runs being scored on the Angels than if Bourjos or Hunter were in CF? I highly doubt it. Did Cabrera’s fielding result in a 34 runs more scored on the Tigers than Kelly/Worth would have let in? Nope.
Did the the combination of the two result in a 34 run shift? Maybe… but I still doubt it.
It takes runs to win games and Cabrera produced more of them, so many more that it easily made up for his defense. I would be shocked if either Worth or Kelly had 120 combined runs/rbi over a season and Cabrera has 246 so far which is +126 Hunter had 173 vs Trout’s 212 and Wells had 65 over 243 ab’s which would be around 145(67 fewer than Trout) expanded over a season.
Then shouldn’t we consider the player’s salaries too? After all, the smaller a player’s salary, the better the players that can be put around him? And if a team is smart, a deeper bench.
I agree that this is one logical viewpoint when thinking of the value of a player. It’s just how far do you take it?
Though this post does point to one of the flaws with abstract comparative ideology of these metrics. Because it’s always going to be easier to find a replacement outfielder than replacement infielder. Not perhaps a great fielder, but the skills needed to play third base, short stop, second or catcher, that position especially, are far more unique than those needed to play the outfield. (Even with having to learn how to track a ball’s flight in the air.) Which is why you have players like Dee Gordon or Wilson Valdez or Yuniesky Betancourt getting so many major league at bats.
Well, Trout robbed what five home runs? Were there people on base? And how many doubles and triples? And It’s not like Trout would not be playing well above average in left field or right field also.
(Even with the negative positional adjustment o from center field to a corner outfield position. The reason for the ten run adjustment from center to right field or left field is that a center fielder moving over to a corner outfield position is expected to be ten runs better in those positions than in center field; the reason being that UZR judges a player against the other players who make plays in his zones. Since the average center fielder is much better than the average corner outfielder, any center fielder, provided that he can adjust to the way the ball comes off the bat in those positions, should expect a jump in his UZR upon moving to a corner position.)
Really, if you make this argument, the player you then have to judge Trout against defensively is Mark Trumbo, because he’s the one replacing Trout in the outfield if you want to play Trout at dh. And he’s not good defensively. Adequate at best.
Also, this argument, at least to me, seems to be making several other confusions. It’s like arguing that since Jeff Baker is every bit as bad at defense as Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers would lose nothing if they used Baker to replace him. We all know that’s not true.
Just because Bourjos is the best defensive outfielder in baseball does not mean that the Angels wouldn’t lose a significant amount of value if they removed the second best defensive outfielder in baseball from the lineup.
Yeah but. Juan Gon, Giambi, Mo Vaughn, Frank Thomas, Ryan Howard, and Justin Morneau have 9 MVP awards between them over a 20 year sample. Those guy all ranged from poor to comically bad defenders. Defense has been little more than a tie breaker of sorts when the offensive contributions were similar. Otherwise, rightly or wrongly, the MVP has always gone to the best hitter.
the Cabrera argument wouldn’t have so much steam if it weren’t for his torrid offense down the stretch when the Tigers have needed it most.
… along with competing for the TRIPLE CROWN and possibly being the best hitter in all of baseball (topping Albert Pujols for the crown). Granted the Triple Crown is not an advanced metric, but certainly mainstream baseball values the TC more than any advanced metric.
Other than those two monumental aspects, it’s just all about the stretch run.
I find it really bothersome when FG forces its narratives to such a degree. It’s why I don’t mind going months without visiting. You come back and its the same style and tactics, only the names change. I’m not expecting FG to change for me, only expressing an opinion.
fWAR + brWAR = not close, Trout MVP. But, let’s not act like there’s little to no reason to talk about Miggy Cabrera in the MVP discussion.
It reminds me of last year’s AL CYA, when Velrander was the obvious choice, but FG kept talking about CC Sabathia. GMAFB. Yeah, CC’s in the discussion, but not that much.
Comment by CircleChange11 — October 2, 2012 @ 5:12 pm
the fume: If I recall correctly, wOBA does not, wRC+ does.
“Albert Pujols has had 8 seasons better than the one Cabrera’s currently having.”
Cabrera has also had better seasons than his 2012 season but none of that should matter in the 2012 AL MVP argument.
What matters is the fact that winning the Triple Crown(assuming he wins it) confirms that Miggy was by far the best hitter in the AL in 2012.
I sometimes feel that Miggy’s success and consistency is being used against him. If anyone else put up the type of numbers that he has this season, there wouldn’t be any debate. But the fact that Miggy has put up better seasons in the past seems to work against him.
Instead of using past performance against him, we should keep things in the context of the 2012 season.
I believe if you look at advanced fielding in a player’s page you will find rGFP, which is ‘good fielding plays.’ Trout is +6. (Miggy is actually +2, but of course Trout has incredible speed to make many plays look easy, and Miggy isn’t that quick so there’s a lot of plays he can’t look foolish on, but does show decent hands and quick reaction on hard-hit balls).
Agree. I’d have Trout for the MVP, but I hate this pretending that even discussing Cabrera is ridiculous.( I also hate the attempt to reduce all statistics into WAR. Statistics were so flawed for so long and the battle to recognize OBP and park factors and so on was very difficult and very important, to see the same push go on for what is such a flawed statistic is annoying.)
From 1954 to 1966 Willie Mays was in the top four in WAR every year, and the leader eight of those years in all of baseball. He won only two MVP’s. Different era for sure, but the best all around player, however you measure it doesn’t always get you the MVP.
Comment by Hurtlockertwo — October 2, 2012 @ 5:54 pm
What’s also interesting is the Tigers had a stretch where they went 13-15 in Aug-Sept, and they were 0-11 in 1-run games over that stretch. But the White Sox actually lost a half-game to the Tigers over that stretch (they came back to earth in my view). And then of course winning 7 of 8 while the Sox lost 2 of 12 pretty much clinched it.
No point to that other than I think it’s interesting.
I wonder if we’ll see an article by Dave Cameron talking about how absurd it was of him to suggest that Cabrera might have a -15 to -30 UZR at third base before the season started. I’m going to go ahead and guess that it will not happen.
Except a team would never make 9 Mike Trouts or 9 Miguel Cabrera’s, so while the argument is interesting along the lines of supralapsarianism/infalapsarianism in Thomist and Molinist schools of thought, it’s got zero bearing on the real world.
So with all of the WAR arguments, Robinson Cano will finish second in the MVP race, correct?
I love how ESPN and a lot of the mainstream talk out of both sides of their mouth with Trout winning because of WAR (or more generally stuff he adds outside of hitting) and with that they say Beltre would probably get some consideration if not for Trout’s year and Miggy’s triple crown run. Not a single mention of Cano?
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 7:33 pm
Trout hasn’t been a shortstop since high school…
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 7:34 pm
I actually might disagree with you their. We know Cabrera can field grounders and fly balls at least well enough to keep his bat in the lineup as over the course of his career he has played both corner outfield positions an corner infield positions. My guess is although Trout is a better oitfielder (by far) Cabrera is better at all four infield positions by far. What happens at Catcher who knows. We know Trout runs at will but so might Cabrera as Trout’s biggest weakness is his arm.
And CF requires a lot less lateral quickness and reaction time than 3B.
That’s why they have THE. EXACT. SAME. POSITION. ADJUSTMENT!
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 7:44 pm
Are we not in the center of the universe?
Given that the universe expands infinitely in every direction, wouldn’t every point be the center of the universe?
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 7:48 pm
It subtracts IBB from BB as well as eliminating the plate APPs that result in IBBS. While I agree that is Unfair to certain players (especially early 2000’s Barry Bonds) it’s done because it does not manage anything to do with a players skill in many instances. Often times the players who accumulate the most IBBS are the eighth hitters in in a National league lineup. They do not want to give credit to The Braves shortstop for being intentionally waked with two outs, a man on second and Tim Hudson in the batter’s box.
Seeing eye ground balls don’t have anything to do with the batter’s skill either, but they still add value. A weighted run created is a weighted run created. And every wRC should be counted in a rate stat that ostensibly measures wRC.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 8:06 pm
i see this argument a lot and hate it every time – wins in september and april get you to the 95-100 wins it takes to make the playoffs just the same…however, when september rolls around you know exactly how far off you are and that you have much less time to start playing well. Theoretically a team could win its first 80 games and play horrendously down the stretch and make the playoffs but since most good teams are within a pretty tight winning range (~54-58%) its the end games that let you distinguish yourself from the field
@SKob Cabrera did not move to 3rd for the team, he did it for himself. Prince Fielder was going to be playing First Base and Cabrera at DH most games if he did not move. DH hurts his market value and legacy, so he fought that off to allow the Tigers to DH Delmon Young to a negative WAR over 600+ plate appearances. In his stance to play third base, Miguel Cabrera made the Tigers a worse team. His “sacrifice” should be a negative to his bid for MVP and the fact his team made the playoffs should have no weight in the vote, either. Wins and RBIs that Cabrera voters are pointing at for his MVP case are team stats not individual ones.
Yes, let’s assume the team that just spent over $200 million on one player on a contract universally seen as a desperation move to win now would not explore other options at third base. No way they ask around about Headley or anyone and they totally look the other way when Boston decides to dump Kevin Youkilis. If you move Cabrera to DH, the player that moves to 3rd just has to bat better than the negative value of Delmon Young, or field better than the negative glove value of Cabrera at 3rd, or a close enough combination of the two to provide better value. According to WAR, yes Inge would have benefited the team over this current arrangement, even with the bad bat. As well as such amazing players they never could have picked up like, Jerry Hairston, Luis Cruz, Juan Francisco, Kevin Frandsen, and even Mike Fontenot though the margin of error there in defensive metrics, I could see Fontenot as being a wash.
Some players don’t do well at DH. It’s impossible to say that Cabrera would have hit as well as he has this year as a DH. And Cabrera’s presence at 3B did not prevent them from signing or trading for one of the players you mentioned as a DH.
All of this also ignoring the fact that they have V-Mart signed as a DH for next year, so Cabrera was eventually going to have to move to third base, regardless.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 9:36 pm
Yes, both sides are very guilty of using hyperbole and fear mongering rhetoric. However, in this case, the guy with the most votes lost which most people would consider robbery not an overly strong word to describe it.
While I don’t agree, fine the Triple Crown means nothing and so does Trout being a rookie. Let’s even assume neither one grabs a glove, they just bat and run. In that case, Trout still wins, wRC+ 175 to 166.
@Fume: Me too. I’m also a Tigers fan who thinks Trout should win MVP, and I’ve seen quite a few “all Tigers fans are irrational homers!” tweets and comments. It’s annoying, though I know not all Trout supporters feel this way.
Comment by catswithbats — October 2, 2012 @ 9:50 pm
Thanks, Kevin, but I supradontknowwhatyourtalkingaboutism… God-smod. I propose that we clone them and perform my experiment.
Honestly, the snark is starting to become a bit much for me too. Enough so, that I’m hoping Twitter devours itself when the winner is announced.
Comment by catswithbats — October 2, 2012 @ 10:02 pm
I see what you are saying, and you might be correct. However, I would actually disagree with your assesment that Cabrera is that much better fielder than Trout in the infield, at least up the middle. What Cabrera has in experience, Trout has in athleticism. Also “Trout attended Millville Senior High School …Initially a pitcher and shortstop, he was shifted to the outfield during his senior year.” (Souce: Wikipedia) That wasn’t that long ago. At the end of the day, my post was meant as tongue in cheek about the disparity in defense, and I laughed to myself at the image of Cabrera running around CF. Hell, maybe it “would” depend on if they are GB or FB pitchers…lol.
Comment by bcp33bosox — October 2, 2012 @ 10:11 pm
Miguel Cabrera played SS through High-A.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 2, 2012 @ 10:46 pm
Except that factoring in DPs leads to the absurd conclusion that a guy who Ks with a guy on first is a better hitter than a guy who puts the ball in play.
I suppose the guy who is more likely to K (Trout) is in some sense more valuable to his team for K-ing than for getting his bat on the ball. But he’s a worse hitter for it.
Those who think BA are irrelevant will also think RBI are. But BA has at least some relevance because hits are more likely to plate a run than a walk.
I realize that it was discussed here because voters will consider it, but looking at the stretch run seems to have little value. Is a win in late August worth more than a win in early May? I don’t know if anyone has ever written on this, but it seems they have to be worth the same amount. I know climbing back into a race only happens at the end of the year, but if you had one more win from early May you would have that much smaller of a climb.
Just another way to say what many have – Trout had the best season statistically but things that might not be relevant to the discussion will be factored in.
Also, excellent point above noting that the Angels have a better record than Detroit even if they are not playoff bound (to go with a tougher schedule too it seems).
Happy for Trout to be MVP, love the type of Beltran-esque player than does everything well (but Tout is actually better and doing everything elite this year)
That being said, it is not unreasonable for a real voter to give the MVP to Miggy, based partly on numbers – my viewpoint that WAR underates the hitting difference between them, and partly based on narrative.
1. The hitting gap between Miggy and Trout
It is beyond dispute that Miggy is a better hitter (in raw numbers).
Trout hitting is inflated by a very high BABIP (and he gets credit for this – rightly so, it has happened), but it is not unreasonable to look at this as say ‘well he has been a bit lucky’ and discount his hitting numbers slightly, and this is fair enough as e.g. Trouts K% is much higher
Park effects – ANA suddenly a pitchers part – Trout is been given a massive push here (rightly or wrongly I’m no expert) – but a voter can see a large ‘raw’ advantage for Miggy suddenly disappear by park effect, for no real reason (both DET and ANA i think have been slight pitcher parks histroically, and suddenly ANA is SEA/SD?)
Discounting these 2 factors and suddenly Miggy has a pretty decent gap in Hitting.
2. The weight of the hitting aspect in WAR
Next look at the relative importance of Hitting; CS/SB; BsR and DEF.
Trout laps Miggy taking these together overall, but are this weighted fairly? Hitting is the single most important part. While WAR weighs these aspects in a certain way, a voter may well acknoweldge the WAR gap, but believe that the gap is much less than advertised as hitting is not given enough weight in the calculation (i.e. i value hitting more than the rest).
As an aside – I am slightly aggravated by the argument ‘offensive production’ being eqaul or in favourt of Trout and quoting wOBA which includes Trouts SB/CS (and discounts Miggy’s IBB i think?). FG already splits value into 3 aspects, and i think that SB/CS should be included in BsR – this way i can more fairly judge the hitting/running/defense aspects between players.
While I agree that even taking all this into account, Trout is more valuable due to SB/CS; BsR and DEF – I don’t find it unreasonable that one could think Miggy has a bigger hiting gap over Trout, and that gap is unfairly weighted in WAR
MVP is a large part a narrative award
Trout has the ‘best rookie since A-Rod’ narrative and saved ANA when he came up
He been tailing off ‘slighty’ down the stretch
He missed a month (and taken in combination with tailing off’ – is it fair to say that with another 20 games, his numbers get worse due to tiredness? i.e. he gets credit for the peak but doesn’t have to deal with the ‘tail’
He is surely winning everthing else (RoY, GG, SS etc…)
Playoffs (yes i know it is dishonest c.f. ANA have a better record, but you only beat what is in front of you)
Triple Crown (yes it doesn’t mean anything, but it sure as hell is cool after 45 years)
Miggy stretch run
Consideration to Miggy as a lifetime acheivement MVP award?
He does the most important thing (hitting) the best in the league
Moved to 3B to accommodate Prince (pretty selfless in my book)
Alcohol history (though it might be a pro as he is dealing with his problem now?)
Anyway providing a lot of hot air at the bottom of the comments section is probably a huge waste of time :)
But as a final point, is there anyone cleer enough with numbers who can tell me what Miggy would need to hit to get to 10WAR having the same 3B DEF and BsR.
I’m not proposing to tell you that at all. I’m saying that a solo home run in the 4th inning of a tie game means as much as a solo walk off home run. However, you’re right that we should consider quality of the pitching, so maybe 9th inning home runs mean more just because they’re harder to come by.
But my main point is that the “value” of a walk-off HR or September wins is that there is less uncertainty that those events are important. While in April, or while in the 4th inning, no one knows whether a single event will really make a difference in the end. But when we get to the end, we see that all of those April games and 4th inning home runs DID make a difference.
Right, because there is less uncertainty of your playoffs chances in late summer. But when we’re looking back at which wins matter more, an April win is just as important as a September win in the grand scheme of things.
I don’t understand what “distinguish yourself from the field” means. I still hold that winning your first 81 games and losing your second 81 games is basically the same as vice versa. We only reward September performance because we recognize its importance, but looking back, every other game in the season was just as important.
Frankly isn’t much of a debate, the fangraphs writer’s can be polite and pander, acknowledging some opinion component to the vote, but there is a clear right answer in this specific case; I don’t see any reason to pretend Cabrera deserves to be in the discussion with Trout.
And I hate Angels fans, their obsession with downing harper at every turn is nauseating; but Detroit is now quite possibly worse. My new favorite Detroitism, the “coastal bias”. I guess that bias includes the coast of the Detroit River.
Criticism of MVP voting is criticism of the process; The idea that they manage to get an individual outcome correct does not excuse the myriad of horrendous decisions they have made. I don’t blame the fans either; first they probably have significantly better things to do (pay bills, raise kids, etc), and secondly they’re fans. It is the perogative of the fan to be irrational.
But baseball writers are paid professionals, paid to write about a sport they know little about. Frankly, they are both open and deserving of criticism. It is one thing to genuinely evaluate the criteria used and make a subjective judgement; that isn’t happening here. In this case, the difference between the two players amounts to more than “random variations”. They don’t even need to use advanced statistics, simply approach the voting with some semblance of context and historical conisistency (even their own voting records). Neither of these are the case; the arguments are ultimately arbitrary because their carelessness has made it so.
Frankly, this isn’t some youth league where we have to pretend everyone gets to particpate (or in this case, pretend everyone’s opinion is of equal validity). That is a ridiculous notion. The margin for error, in this specific case, is too friggen large to pretend it is a justifiable posisiton, unless of course the “Number of games played” is now the most important of the 5 point guidelines:
The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2. Number of games played.
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4. Former winners are eligible.
5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.
Don’t see anything about playoffs in there. But might as well let them keep making up criteria as they go, par for the course.
Though I would like to restate something; when talking about moron’s/luddites/etc., I’m talking (or was trying to talk about) the quality of their published arguments (hence be remembered). It wouldn’t be fair to pretend that just because someone puts out moronic arguments they, themselves, are automatically morons.
So you want it to be the most valuable offensive player award?
Comment by I Agree Guy — October 3, 2012 @ 10:37 am
Factfinder – it is completely false that Cabrera asked to be moved to 3rd rather than DH. He offered. Cabrera is vastly superior to Fielder defensively – the latter clearly would have been the DH if Cabrera didn’t offer to play 3rd to free up the chance for Fielder to get his preference.
233 comments. What a debate! I’ve seen a lot of really interesting comments and sides to this story. I think we can all agree that who ever wins, no one is going to be “Robbed” of the MVP trophy. It’s a great thing to have 2 legitimate cases for the award. One based on tradionalist views, a triple crown, playoff team, etc. And the other a 20 year old phenom who was passed over in the draft by 20+ teams, who developed into one of the gamse brightest stars in his rookie season and has put on a display of defense and on the basepaths, with an exceptional bat to go with the package.
Personally I want Miggy to win. People say we’ve never seen the numbers Trout is putting up and they’re correct. But we have seen Arod, Bonds, Ricky Henderson all put on great displays of power and speed just because they didn’t hit 30/50 doesn’t make what they did any less impressive. Especially for those that sit around and say the Triple Crown is just a set of numbers people 100 years ago thought were important. What’s the difference between a Triple Crown and 125/30/50? What value does that create that 44/133/.331 doesn’t?
I think the traditional point of view here wins out and I don’t think anyone should be upset when it happens.
True, but Berry doesn’t have half of a season’s worth of PA yet.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 11:24 am
Just a fun fact, haha
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 11:28 am
Every major league caliber hitter has a high BABIP in the minors. It’s weird if they don’t.
Is Anthony Rizzo a true talent .350 BABIP hitter?
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 11:34 am
Wait did you just make an interesting point?
No? You’re just a dick?
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 11:36 am
Has anyone compared the r^2 of RBI to wRC to that of R to wRC?
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 11:39 am
Quick question, if anyone know the answer:
Is UZR measured against average or a theoretical replacement? Because I’m pretty sure that there is a much larger difference between the average MLB 3B defense and that of a replacement 3B than there is between the average MLB CF defense and that of a replacement CF.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 12:07 pm
What I don’t understand is why people who are arguing for Trout keep lumping all the stats together with WAR, wOBA, etc trying to use 1 or 2 numbers to show that Trout has been the better player.
There are three distinct talents in a baseball player:
1. Batting ability (AVG), hard (2b, 3b, hr) and the ability to get on base (BB)
2. The ability to run fast (SB, infield hits, baserunning)
3. Defensive ability
When you break it down into three categories it becomes easy to see the value of a certain player rather than just 1 or 2 raw numbers.
Someone can then see that even though Miggy crushed the ball in 2012 and will likely win the triple crown, Trout was not that far behind in his ability to hit the ball either.
Then when you compare speed and defensive ability it becomes easy to see that Trout was a complete player in 2012 while Miggy was just the best at 1.
The voters can then decide how important the base hitting category was compared with defense/speed and it should not be difficult to show why Trout deserves the MVP in 2012.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 12:13 pm
i suppose if something like this ever came to place miggy would probably slim down to play as many positions as he could. people kind of joke about him at 3B, but if you look at highlights of the younger version of miguel he was a ripped physical freak of a specimen.
oh, and he still has an absolute cannon of an arm, he would be by far the superior catcher.
In reply to crump- does uzr zones stay “static” or are they adjusted for where the player starts…I mean it doesn’t seem rational to doc a SS for being shift 2B side of second and a ball is hit at “normal” SS position and he doesn’t make the play…so many examples, I am amazed if they don’t take into account starting position of player…does anyone know?
It does not take into account the starting position of the player, at least in the outfield.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — October 3, 2012 @ 1:21 pm
So according to the logic presented here. Michael Bourn is the NL MVP?
He was better defensively and on the speed factor than Posey and Wright are…so he wins 2 of the 3 so it’s easy to see who the winner is.
Sure you can state that the other two hit much better than he did and that’s why they’re front runners and he’s not. However take away Trout’s 21 Infield hits, and many of the singles he strectched to doubles and the doubles he turned to triples and he wasn’t even in the same league as Cabrera. Unless you want to say that speed should also count in the Batting (Hard) category too. Cabrera with all of his “speed” hit 40 doubles, 44 Home runs, scored over 100 runs, his ISO is 40 points higher than Trout’, Slugging 47 Points Higher. To say that they were close in the batting (Hard) category isn’t even remotely close.
If it’s not as close than Bourn is the NL MVP and you can’t fight it without damaging your claim for Trout.
The basic problem with WAR, other than that it is not a basic stat that most people can’t understand is: should one stat really ever be used to compare all facets of a player, offensively and defensively, let alone comparing pitchers and hitters? There is bias from the start based on weights given to categories. A cursory inspection shows base stealers who can also hit for average have a high WAR. Fielding adjusments are curiously high in my opinion- the whole dividing the field up into sections thing. Do they also negate the homer error/hit calls? If so do they retro that to the offensive stats? No.
When it comes down to this argument it is stunning to me that people point to this johnny come lately stat and say: no contest, and completely discount the triple crown. These are two very different and completely outstanding players that have had outstanding seasons. It comes down to opinion. Defense should count. Should you note that Cabrera improved his fielding percentage vastly at 3rd since the last time he played there? Is it above average for 3rd baseman? Still too staty in my opinion. Maybe you should talk to the major league manager who walks Cabrera with a rightie on the mound even though Fielder (a lefty) is coming up next- what value does he place on the RBI stat in relation to Miggy? Or if you point to the insane diving catch that Trout made, or how he had an infield hit, stole a base and scored on a passed ball to manufacture a run to tie a game and say he’s the best this year, now we are talking baseball.
CF is by far the easiest of all fielding position, so that’s an automatic deduction in WAR, WAR doesn’t have the proper algorithms adjusted. Name the position, 3B, SS any position, even a pitcher’s defense is harder and more value worthy than the centerfielder’s. Further more Trout batted a whopping ,189 against quality pitchers. Pitchers that had an ERA below 3.4 and at least 13 wins for 2012.