Miguel Cabrera’s Best Season Yet

Last year, we were pro-Mike Trout. The AL MVP debate pitted the Triple Crown against overall performance, and we came down on the side of evaluating players by things other than batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. Unfortunately, being pro-Mike Trout meant that we were perceived to be inherently anti-Miguel Cabrera. It’s not that we had anything against Cabrera, but he became the personification of The Other Side. In order to help explain why Trout was better, we had to point out where Cabrera was deficient relative to the guy we supported. It’s the nature of comparisons, but it’s not always fair to the guys being compared, especially when picking between multiple great players while trying to decide which one happened to be the greatest.

This post is not a comparison. This post is just about Miguel Cabrera, and appreciating how good he actually is, because as a follow-up to his Triple Crown season, Cabrera’s 2013 season is shaping up to be his best season yet, and one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history.

As I write this, Miguel Cabrera is 1-2 with a double in the game currently commencing against the Angels. That double raised his wRC+ on the season to 202. You don’t need me to tell you that a 202 wRC+ is an amazing performance. What I will tell you, though, is that sustaining it over the first three months of the season is exceedingly rare.

Here’s the entire list of players who have managed to post a wRC+ over 200 since 2002:

Barry Bonds, 2002: 347 PA, 234 wRC+
Barry Bonds, 2004: 325 PA, 232 wRC+
Jose Bautista, 2011: 376 PA, 211 wRC+
Miguel Cabrera, 2013: 354 PA, 202 wRC+

Derrek Lee came close in 2005, but fell just short. Albert Pujols never managed a 200 wRC+ in the first three months of the season. Joey Votto got to 187 last year, but that’s as good as he has been able to do. Over a half season’s worth of plate appearances, Cabrera’s offensive dominance is putting himself into rarely charted territory. He’s even dwarfing his own previous accomplishments, even while the run environment continues to stagnate and the game tilts towards pitching and defense.

CabrerawOBA

Because Chris Davis has gone off, Cabrera might not win the Triple Crown again, but it’s almost impossible to argue that he was better last year than he’s been so far this year. Last year, he hit .330; this year, he’s hitting .370. Last year, he got on base at a .393 clip; this year, it’s .460. Last year, he slugged .606; this year, .657.

Cabrera’s on pace to blow past nearly every single mark he put up last year, with the exception of double plays, which he’s hit into fewer of. Pretty much the only measure which has gotten worse is his UZR, which rates him as one of the very worst defensive third baseman in baseball after thinking he was just merely bad last year. But here’s the thing; even with league worst defense at third base, Cabrera is still on pace for a +10 WAR season. If you extrapolate his current rates to 162 games, it’s actually a +10.8 WAR season.

If Cabrera were to sustain this pace and finish with +10.8 WAR, it would tie him with Babe Ruth (1931), Rogers Hornsby (1925), and Honus Wagner (1905) for the 27th best total in baseball history. And of the 27 seasons ahead of him, only Barry Bonds (2001) was able to do so while getting heavily penalized by the defensive component. It is just very hard for a player whose value comes almost solely from his offense to put up a +10 WAR season, but Cabrera’s on a near +11 WAR pace while doing it almost entirely with his bat.

Now, he probably won’t keep this up. Bautista’s 2011 wRC+ fell from 211 in the first half to 143 in the second half. If you take the top 10 first half hitters by wRC+ from 2002-2012, you’ll find that their second half wRC+ was 181, 19 points lower than the 200 they put up as a group in the first half. In any group which you’ve selected a player for being extraordinary, the odds are pretty good that the player is in line to play worse in the future.

But here’s how ridiculous Cabrera is: his rest-of-season ZIPS/Steamer projections expect him to regress back to a .420 wOBA (.419 by Steamer, but close enough), which is higher than his 2012 wOBA. In other words, a regressed Cabrera projection expects him to hit about as well as he did last year when he won the Triple Crown. Both ZIPS and Steamer think the second best hitter in baseball is Joey Votto, and neither system (.408 for ZIPS, .401 for Steamer) puts him all that close to Cabrera.

Offensively, the man is in a league of his own. He’s following an all-time great season by traditional metrics with an all-time great season by advanced metrics. Last year, the argument involving Cabrera was over what type of numbers we should value. This year, it doesn’t matter. Pick any number you want, Cabrera’s probably leading the league in it.

Miguel Cabrera is an amazing hitter, and he’s so amazing at hitting that it hardly matters that he’s not so great at things not involving hitting. Those things do matter, of course, but Cabrera’s offense overwhelms his deficiencies. A few weeks ago, I wrote that a version of Mike Trout that doesn’t strike out is “basically the perfect baseball player”. Well, Miguel Cabrera is basically the perfect hitter. There’s nothing even to nitpick. He’s incredible.

I’m still pro-Mike Trout, but I’m also pro-Miguel Cabrera. They’re both amazing.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Max
Guest
Max
3 years 2 months ago

Man, everyone looks bad compared to Barry Bonds.

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
3 years 2 months ago

My thoughts exactly. In 2002 Barry Bonds WORST month by wRC+ was July he hit .365/.507/.750 for a meager 219 wRC+.

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
3 years 2 months ago

also looking back at “pre-huge” Barry Bonds – he had a 196 wRC+ in ’92 and 193 wRC+ in ’93.

Barry Bonds was amazing.

David
Guest
David
3 years 2 months ago

Babe Ruth: Career 197 wRC+… when you are talking about hitting ability relative to their peers, everyone else can just walk away Charlie Brown style.

Rogers Hornsby
Guest
Rogers Hornsby
3 years 2 months ago

If I could read your comment, I might be offended.

LK
Guest
LK
3 years 2 months ago

You should probably get some thicker skin then, since trail the Babe by 25 points of wRC+.

Bill
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Bill
3 years 2 months ago

Which is ironic given that everyone looks good, this side of Roger Clemens, compared to Barry Bonds when we’re not talking hitting ability.

Aaron Hernandez
Guest
Aaron Hernandez
3 years 2 months ago

I disagree.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
3 years 2 months ago

And Cabrera’s only just turned 30 y/o, so he may still get better.

Hamba
Member
Hamba
3 years 2 months ago

He may still, but this is probably his peak.

Yeah I Said It
Guest
Yeah I Said It
3 years 2 months ago

As long as he follows the B-Bonds career path.

Nick
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Nick
3 years 2 months ago

I think you mean “training regimen”

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 2 months ago

You win the Internet today. +1000. Any other cliche.

Dan
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Dan
3 years 2 months ago

Meanwhile, Prince Fielder has about as much power in his bat as a toddler.

Eric
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Eric
3 years 2 months ago

I haven’t seen many articles discussing him this year, though it seems to have been a down one. Any idea if his numbers will improve?

Alex
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Alex
3 years 2 months ago

I’m confused. You list only four players since 2002 that have posted wRC+ of over 200, but later say “If you take the top 10 first half hitters by wRC+ from 2002-2012, you’ll find that their second half wRC+ was 181, 19 points lower than the 200 they put up as a group in the first half.” Was the average 200 because of Bonds’ numbers in the 230s?

Jon L.
Guest
Jon L.
3 years 2 months ago

It’s averaging those four guys above with the next six, who aren’t much below 200 wRC+’s themselves.

rogue_actuary
Member
Member
rogue_actuary
3 years 2 months ago

Just guessing, but I would bet that, as distributions go, Bonds was an outlier and the next six on the list are more tightly bunched. Dave would have to clarify, but the others would have to average 187 to hit an average of 200 across the board.

matt w
Guest
matt w
3 years 2 months ago

Averaging anything with Barry Bonds will yield weird numbers.

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
3 years 2 months ago

I grabbed the top 10 and got an [unweighted] average of 200.8 before and 180.6 after. A 10% drop-off.

If I drop out Bonds’ three years in the list and include the next three in his place [but exclude 2010 Morneau since he didn’t play in the second half]:

189.1 -> 152.7 .. a 19% drop.

If you figure Cabrera is more like the top 10, Bonds Excluded, then you probably need to figure in a bigger drop-off…

matt
Guest
matt
3 years 2 months ago

Great article – thanks!

Last year FG wasn’t just pro-Trout, the site repeatedly touted Votto as a better hitter than Miggy. Seems like that’s changed – not discounting Votto, but more in recognition of Miggy.

This is one of those times we can look back on and say we were lucky to have been able to enjoy the show. I admired Pujols for many years, but this is the most impressive performance since Bonds..

Bluejaysandcards
Guest
Bluejaysandcards
3 years 2 months ago

Pujols tended to get better as the year went on. Until this year, I would say Pujols was a better hitter than Cabrera. Now, I’m not so sure. 2008 is the yardstick, to be sure.

Ian
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Ian
3 years 2 months ago

Excuse my ignorance. I’m playing around with wRC+ leaders over the last few years. I see that in 2010 Justin Morneau led the league (184 wRC+) despite playing in only 81 games. (Jim Thome was second and had even fewer PA). Morneau had a great season going (MVP talk IIRC) but his 4.9 WAR is only t25. So is wRC a rate stat that isn’t impacted as much by the number of PA etc or are half seasons like that fairly common? Or were the Twins just lucky to get about 8 WAR from Morneau and Thome in basically two different halves of the season?

MH
Guest
MH
3 years 2 months ago

Yes, wRC+ is a rate state, relative to league average, where 100 is league average.

http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/wrc/

Angelsjunky
Guest
Angelsjunky
3 years 2 months ago

Question: I noticed that the last two games Cabrera committed three errors total, yet his Fld didn’t budge. Why is that?

Brandon Gray
Member
Brandon Gray
3 years 2 months ago

He had close to 300 put outs in those 2 games.

NeilS
Guest
NeilS
3 years 2 months ago

It’s not updated on a daily basis. UZR is only updated once a month, iirc.

NeilS
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NeilS
3 years 2 months ago

And, as it turns out, i DIDN’T recall correctly.

adohaj
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adohaj
3 years 2 months ago

so that’s what iirc means…

Jeremy T
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

I knew it had to be either that or Apple’s version of Internet Relay Chat

Bryz
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

The defensive numbers are typically updated a few days or more after the actual game was played. I think it was Dave that had that discussion with a commenter about someone’s UZR changing despite the player having an off day the previous day.

Timeghoul
Member
Timeghoul
3 years 2 months ago

It’s fascinating that the Tigers have the best hitter in baseball, the best rotation in baseball, play in the worst division in baseball, and are still an incredibly mediocre team that is a pretty good bet to miss the playoffs. Something is wrong there.

bada bing
Guest
bada bing
3 years 2 months ago

Pretty good bet to miss the playoffs? Tell me more, please.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

CoolStandings has the Tigers at 77% chance to make the playoffs.

Kevin
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Kevin
3 years 2 months ago

Miss the playoffs?

Cool story bro.

David
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David
3 years 2 months ago

And then I realized… Ive never even BEEN to Mt. Vesuvius!

Angelsjunky
Guest
Angelsjunky
3 years 2 months ago

Aside from your hyperbole (“pretty good bet to miss the playoffs”) I’ve noticed the same thing. Not only do they have the best hitter in baseball, but one of the best lineups to go with an incredible rotation.

Perhaps last night’s six-error game tells us something about the Tigers. I’m too lazy to look up their team defense, but I’m wondering if that’s their biggest “on paper” problem. Even though “on paper” fielding is maybe 15% of the game (assuming that offense is 50% and pitching 35%) it has a larger psychological impact.

Papa Grande
Guest
Papa Grande
3 years 2 months ago

I think I might know the team’s problem.

Abysmal Record in Extra Innings and One Run Games
Guest
Abysmal Record in Extra Innings and One Run Games
3 years 2 months ago

Yeah, me too.

Cooper Nielson
Guest
Cooper Nielson
3 years 2 months ago

Their aggregate numbers are good across the board, but they’ve had a lot of trouble with “sequencing.” Despite being one of the highest scoring teams in the majors on a per-game AVERAGE, they’ve been shut out 6 times and scored just 1 run 3 times.

They’ve had some bullpen problems, sure, but they’ve also had some offensive problems in the late innings and in close games. They’re 26th in FanGraphs’ “Clutch” number. I have no idea what that number means, but it sounds like it must be relevant.

Now, probably this will all average out over the course of the season, but so far their offense has been inefficient on a per-game basis (example: 12 hits + 2 BB = 4 runs in Wednesday’s game) and over the season (they’re underperforming their Pythag). As a fan, it’s been frustrating, but I don’t feel the sky is falling yet.

Seth
Member
Seth
3 years 2 months ago

pythWL has them in 3rd place overall, behind Saint Louis and Boston. They’re “underperforming” by 3 games. That suggests a good probability for a late season surge, which could also carry through into the playoffs.

Rob
Guest
Rob
3 years 2 months ago

The Tigers are under-performing because they are pretty lousy on defense and their bullpen has been terrible, partially due to a lack of talented arms and partially because Jim Leyland is horrible at managing a bullpen. See today’s game for a perfect example. He let Phil Coke pitch to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in a tie game in the 9th. Phil Coke has no business pitching against any right-handers, let alone a budding superstar and a Hall of Famer. Not until AFTER Coke surrendered hits to both batters and coughed up the lead did Leyland bring in a righty. Leyland routinely defies logic when it comes to using the pen.

Rob
Guest
Rob
3 years 2 months ago

*It was actually the 10th inning when he brought in Coke. Not the 9th

The Party Bird
Guest
The Party Bird
3 years 2 months ago

Except that defense isn’t really a reason for a team to underperform, since it’s already accounted for in run-differential – a measurement in which the Tigers are extremely strong.

The bullpen is lousy at times and it has cost them some one-run games, but it’s ok at the top now that Valverde is gone. Smyly and Benoit should be able to hold down the fort in the late innings.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 2 months ago

… if pythag was worth anything.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Pythag is worth something, just not what educated baseball fans twenty years ago thought. It’s still worth bringing up, warts and all, if you know those warts.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

[T]he Tigers . . . play in the worst division in baseball

National East .466
American West .485
AMERICAN CENT .487

cs3
Member
cs3
3 years 2 months ago

So a penny right?

Harold Reynolds
Guest
Harold Reynolds
3 years 2 months ago

Excuse me, how is he having a better season than last year exactly?

He’s 6 HRs behind Davis for the Triple Crown! Did you forget he won the Triple Crown last year?

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
3 years 2 months ago

Yes. By the logic that got him the MVP last year, he can not be as good this year.

DUHG
Guest
DUHG
3 years 2 months ago

Apparently as of this comment there are 28 Orioles fan reading Fangraphs. Sounds about right.

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
3 years 2 months ago

*whoosh*

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Now 34 whooshes! who know what “Harold Reynolds” means.

Hank
Guest
Hank
3 years 2 months ago

Dave, at one of the SABR conferences last year, one of the Oakland A’s organizational people said their own internal systems had Trout and Cabrera in a dead heat value-wise.

Are the A’s are working in the dark ages of RBI and avg and HR’s too?

Or is it possible WAR has more error and may not be as comprehensive and accurate as folks tend to think?

NeilS
Guest
NeilS
3 years 2 months ago

No one would claim that WAR is incredibly accurate, especially the fielding component. It’s a guideline – for shorthand, it’s probably more useful (and less misleading) to just drop the decimal place altogether.

But the offensive numbers ARE pretty accurate, and most said that Trout and Cabrera were virtually tied when you account for all the hitting and baserunning factors. That’s why a lot of people conclude that the As must be doing something wrong – if it’s a wash on offense, or something close to a wash, then the As must be seeing their defensive contributions as something that’s more or less equal. And that’s just wrong.

Izzy
Guest
Izzy
3 years 2 months ago

While their rate stats are similar, Miggy did play in twenty two more games than Trout. If the A’s saw Trout as a poor defensive center fielder, I could see them being seen as equally valued last season.

Krog
Member
Krog
3 years 2 months ago

The small market A’s might also use a lower replacement level (-1 as opposed to 0) which would give Cabrera’s 22 more games played extra weight.

Hank
Guest
Hank
3 years 2 months ago

My issue is not with the argument it is the typical Dave intellectually dishonest hyperbole when painting a viewpoint that opposes his own.

When he says we preferred to look at more than avg/HR/RBI – he is painting it as the only way one could possible view Cabrera as an MVP. It’s a strawman… the very thing SABR folks generally challenge and ridicule (and yes this is ironically a strawman too)

Or maybe I guess the A’s and their internal modelling systems are no better than the MSM idiots. I guess I prefer to think that the A’s front office is not a bunch of 1950’s morons who put too much weight in triple crown stats.

Also you resort to the same strawmen analysis as Dave… “most” “a lot of people”… are a “lot of people” really convinced the A’s are doing it wrong? How can they argue that honestly unless they have access to the A’s modelling?

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
3 years 2 months ago

WAR is a context neutral statistic. The A’s may prefer to use some context dependant stats, such as WPA, to judge value which could have Cabrera and Trout much closer.

Hank
Guest
Hank
3 years 2 months ago

My issue is not the position but the need to hyperolize the opposing position and turn it into a rather dumb strawmane.

My point is I think the A’s are doing more than grunt, HR’s, grunt, RBI, grunt, AVG, to determine that the two had similar value. Yet Dave has consistently portrayed this as the only way one could stupidly view Cabrera as an MVP.

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
3 years 2 months ago

Oh I agree with you completely. Logical arguments can definitely be made for Cabrera for MVP.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

“Logical arguments can definitely be made for Cabrera for MVP,” sure. Everything else? No.

Chris
Guest
Chris
3 years 2 months ago

Not Dave, but I would guess that just about every team has their own system of evaluating players, and I’d bet most of their systems are better than WAR, because they have access to a lot more data than the general public does.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel
3 years 2 months ago

That difference was most likely due to the fact that it wasn’t their version of WAR (R = theoretical AAAA replacement player), but instead it was probably WAR’ (R’ = the player that actually gets replaced on the A’s).

The most accurate part of WAR is the offensive batting part. Trout was barely behind Cabrera in batting runs above average (and that’s cumulative with less games played). Even with any disagreements in offense (clutch and opponent adjustments), Trout was better anyway. I think it would be next to impossible for the A’s to say that Cabrera is better than Trout at defense and base running in any metric system.

I guess the other option, like you said, is that they dwell on too many stats that are not determined by the player or don’t tell the entire story about the player’s value.

Cooper Nielson
Guest
Cooper Nielson
3 years 2 months ago

“I think it would be next to impossible for the A’s to say that Cabrera is better than Trout at defense”

Agreed, it seems very unlikely that any intelligent observer or system could conclude that “Cabrera plays 3B better than Trout plays LF/CF, compared to their peers.”

However, there remains a possibility that the A’s or some other system might determine that 3B is a lot harder to play than LF/CF, or that average defense at 3B is more valuable than very good defense in the OF. (While simultaneously seeing Cabrera’s defense as “average” instead of “bad” and Trout’s defense as “very good” instead of “outstanding.”) This would be a minority opinion, but it doesn’t seem COMPLETELY ridiculous.

Hank
Guest
Hank
3 years 2 months ago

Folks need to read my comment a bit better. Rather than “MUST DEFEND WAR”

Dave has continued to portray any position that Cabrera as MVP is based on triple crown #’s – it is a terrible strawman and an intellectually bankrupt way to argue. It’s what Dave does… he takes an opposing viewpoint and paints it in the most extreme hyperbole possible to argue against it.

My point is the A’s (and I’m speculating here) are not modelling folks purely on AVG, HR, RBIzzz…. yet have the two closely in value (they actuallty had Cabrera marginally ahead ut in the noise)

The meme that the only way you can see Cabera as an MVP is the Triple Crown is a narrative that needs to die. Or maybe we should start calling the A’s front office a bunch of morons who need new modelling systems that take into account more than triple crown stats.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel
3 years 2 months ago

The FO’s didn’t vote on the MVP though. The writer’s used those flawed arguments when they defended their votes.

Of course, you’re talking about the argument that Cabrera should have been the MVP anyway.

We probably need more context to what the A’s meant by what they said. I personally doubt there is any strong argument with modern metrics that Cabrera had more offensive and defensive value to his team than Trout last year, at least in the independent from other players and independent from team sense. The math just does not add up. I think this is simply a semantic misunderstanding.

matt
Guest
matt
3 years 2 months ago

If only the A’s had all these genius commenters working in their front office. Maybe then they would finally be a low payroll team with payroll aspirations.

Amazing that you jokers think you know better than a successufl major league front office. Nice assumptions anyways.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel
3 years 2 months ago

I don’t know who you are responding to, but that comment makes no sense either way.

Did you even read? No one was criticizing the A’s. We’re all asking what was going on.

LK
Guest
LK
3 years 2 months ago

Stark polled a bunch of front office people and said that the support was overwhelmingly in Trout’s corner.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Front office people?? The definition of nerds who can’t play baseball!

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Folks need to read my comment a bit better.

You need to write a lot better.

Evidently you want people to sign on with Attacking Dave, and when they politely demur and want to actually talk about stuff, you repeat yourself several times, louder and with less and less grammar and spelling; you come across as frothing. Strawman, intellectually bankrupt, dishonest hyperbole, etc etc, okay: you need to calm down.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 2 months ago

Every pro-Cabrera-for-MVP argument I’ve ever seen can be summarized as “triple crown, changed position to help team.”
Maybe another argument is possible, but I’ve never seen one.
Therefore, Dave is absolutely not using a strawman argument.

rubesandbabes
Guest
rubesandbabes
3 years 2 months ago

I’m with Hank here about the possibility that The A’s braintrust has ‘advanced metric’ and proprietary stats that value Cabrera’s 2012 over Trout’s 2012. They don’t just use Total Average.

For me, Dave’s articles are a lot more fun when you pretend he is intentionally going for trite.

He does offer a reasonable explanation of the sabr community’s need to be anti-triple crown – in fairness, the triple crown was a frequent news soundbite at the time, so it’s not totally a straw argument against the Cabreras.

suicide squeeze
Member
Member
suicide squeeze
3 years 2 months ago

I’m betting the A’s WAR framework uses something Bayesian such that an established player having a great year is worth more than an out-of-nowhere guy. I know Trout wasn’t truly out of nowhere, but still.

The Party Bird
Guest
The Party Bird
3 years 2 months ago

Who knows, maybe we are the ones in the “dark ages” and the best private systems are destroying WAR in statistical value?

jessef
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

In a dead-heat value-wise meaning what? Did they specifically say that their 2012 seasons were of comparable value? You’re implying that with the rest of the comment but you aren’t saying it with your premise. If they didn’t say that explicitly, my guess is that they didn’t mean it.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
3 years 2 months ago

It’s a shame that the Tigers have the best starting rotation and the best hitter in the game…. and they are still only performing a bit above average. After today’s performance (Hey I know, let’s pitch Coke late in the game to righties!) these guys win in spite of Leyland, not because of him.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

I don’t consider seven games above (with seventy-seven played) “a bit above average.”

Though I have to wonder about Leyland with Detroit up seventy-one in run difference, third in baseball (and fourth way down at fifty-five).

Bryz
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

$10 says this won’t stop some national writer, Baseball Tonight or MLB Network host from claiming that “the stat heads don’t think Miggy deserves the MVP again” this season.

chief00
Guest
chief00
3 years 2 months ago

I love Miggy as a hitter and have since he was a Marlin but, boy, was I vilified for advancing Trout’s season as being better. It was a conditional mindset (if you choose player A, then you must hate player B) applied to the wrong aspect of the debate.

I guess it’s part of the beauty of awards and opinions that one of the best two dozen seasons by one standard (Miggy) can beat the best season ever by other, more comprehensive, standards (Trout).

So, if both players improve but Miguel Cabrera doesn’t win the Triple Crown, will Mike Trout be the MVP? Or will Evan Longoria–another excellent player on a consistently good team–get it? In other words, when will defense and base running matter (to voters)? :)

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
3 years 2 months ago

I think at times those advancing Trout were guilty of incredible snark. Not only was Trout better, but there was something mentally deficient with you if you didn’t think it.

matt
Guest
matt
3 years 2 months ago

I was in camp Trout last year, but to me it seemed very much the other way around – the Trout supporters villified the Miggy supporters, whereas I consistently saw Miggy supporters also offer support for Trout. I don’t recollect seeing one Miggy support bash Trout – I saw dozens and dozens of Trout supporters bash Miggy though.

LK
Guest
LK
3 years 2 months ago

I’m going to go out on a limb here…you root for the Tigers?

Bluejaysandcards
Guest
Bluejaysandcards
3 years 2 months ago

Barry Bonds. Three MVPs.

chief00
Guest
chief00
3 years 2 months ago

MVPs one through three for Bonds, in Triple Crown terms, were at or near the top of the league. Even his second place finishes in ’91 and ’00 were strong Triple Crown seasons, but not up to his own standards. His next 4 MVPs in ’01-’04, well…

This isn’t to say that his defense and base running weren’t factors, but I doubt they made as much of an impression. He was the best player on a good team who began to hit like crazy.

Not surprisingly, his incredible surge in offense coincided with a batting order change, from lead-off (’89) to fifth (’90) to fourth (’92) to third (’94). He changed from a table setter to a major run producer, but he still stole a lot of bases.

nilbog44
Member
nilbog44
3 years 2 months ago

Before the start of last season Keith Law was railing against the Tigers starting Miggy Cabrera at 3rd and Prince at 1st. He was talking about how the defensive experiment would be a disaster. I said on this site and on other blogs that it wouldn’t matter at all and they could still win the World Series. My argument was that defense doesn’t hardly matter. Hitting matters. Pitching matters. As long as they can make the routine plays then they will be fine. Most balls in play are either routine plays or clean hits. So just hit and pitch and don’t worry about defense and you will be fine. I got crucified in the comments section. I think they ended up doing ok and I don’t remember their infield defense mattering much at all

NATS Fan
Guest
NATS Fan
3 years 2 months ago

To bad this is not the forum for fantasy baseball posts. I am itching to brag!

Aaron (UK)
Member
Aaron (UK)
3 years 2 months ago

This deserves a red thumb and a green thumb

Mac
Guest
Mac
3 years 2 months ago

How did Chris Davis only barely get mentioned in this article? Depends on you define first three months but Davis was himself over 200 wRC+ at the start of June.

Sure he’s cooled off a bit (the phrase “he’s only hit 148 wRC+ in June” is itself amazing to utter), but he now sits at 193 which is a darn close second place on the leader-board.

Also in the amazing first-half discussion: Tulowitzki. If Troy had kept his torrid hitting pace and hadn’t been hurt, he would haven been at 5.45 WAR right now.

Other odd leaderboard names: Carlos Gomez is already above 4.0 WAR and Matt Carpenter is 10th on that WAR list.

All told, pretty fun season so far.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 2 months ago

Who are these people that think Cabrera should have won the MVP solely because of the triple crown numbers? Do they actually exist? Or is this just an extension of the “We are smart, while the ‘Old School’ is stupid” narrative that some in the SABR community insecurely feel the need to create.

matt w
Guest
matt w
3 years 2 months ago

Harold Reynolds: “To me, you win the Triple Crown …. Trump Card!”

http://www.foxsportsdetroit.com/mlb/detroit-tigers/story/Will-AL-MVP-stay-in-Detroit?blockID=819837

Perhaps slightly more common is the “He won the triple crown and his team made the playoffs, NERDS” argument, like Murray Chass:

http://www.murraychass.com/?p=5405

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 2 months ago

Murray Chass gives quite a nice argument for why someone might vote for Cabrera over Trout, and his argument certainly isn’t Dave’s parody. ….but while making his case, Chass also falls into the same trap as Dave and straw man’s the Trout supporters. …so it goes.

sean
Guest
sean
3 years 2 months ago

You ask who are the people that think cabrera should have won solely for triple crown numbers, i’d say who are the one saying he’s the MVP and NOT citing his triple crown numbers. You are looking for a strawman that doesn’t exist. A strawman strawman.

the tourist
Guest
the tourist
3 years 2 months ago

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Cabrera will have the best offensive career of his generation. Part of that due to the fact that he was good so young.

Anon
Guest
Anon
3 years 2 months ago

Example #1 of Cabrera being good so young:

http://youtu.be/2laVtbFFIGw?t=8m30s

Bill
Guest
Bill
3 years 2 months ago

Just like Pujols – Hopefully Cabrera doesn’t follow suit and tail off at a young age too.

franklin adcock jr
Member
franklin adcock jr
3 years 2 months ago

“Evaluate player’s by other things than batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.” Yeah, like did your team make the series? Would they have made it there without you? Because if not, it’s insane how valuable you are. Did you give up your position, even though your’re the star of the team, to return to a position that every commentator on earth said you couldn’t handle anymore, thereby risking public humiliation, just to help your team? Did you manage to function there, while not bringing your defensive woes to the plate? Are you a rotund, round faced, non-photogenic Latino with no eloquence in English-or Spanish, for that matter? Have you recently lost an MVP award to a tall, curly-haired, blue-eyed, good-looking white guy who talks sincerely about the Lord a lot, even though your overall season was better in many opinions(not implying anything, just saying)? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, you won something called the Triple Crown, right? If your answers are: Yes, No, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, then congrats, here’s your overdue MVP.

Bill
Guest
Bill
3 years 2 months ago

This is hilarious. LEAVE MIGGY ALONE!!

Guest
Guest
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

The best players get on base roughly 40% of the time. There are more rbi opportunities with two outs than any other time. It takes HITS to get 2 out RBI. It takes RUNS to win the game. Getting pretty sick of people discounting the triple crown categories. Its like people have never played baseball.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

So I guess you think the Triple Crown should be Hits, On Base Percentage, and Runs Scored?

Bill
Guest
Bill
3 years 2 months ago

No, I believe he is contending that it should be two out hits with RISP, Runs, and OBP.

Guest
Guest
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

Many playoff baseball games come down to one or two runs. The 40% on base was actually meant to illustrate that hitters dont have control over when or how many rbi situations they get to hit in. The point is that you must take advantage of these opportunities when they arise because they may be few and far between (especially in the playoffs against great pitching.) In these close playoff games, usually somewhere between the 6th and 9th inning, one or two players will get one of these 2 out RISP opportunities and his success or failure determines the outcome of the game and/or series. To me, the MVP (and Cy Young) are the hitter and pitcher you would want in the box or on the mound when the game/series is on the line.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Yes, I went back and forth. Maybe Quadruple Crown?

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

That was meant to reply to Bill.

Guest
Guest
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

I believe the Triple Crown should be Batting Average, Homeruns, and RBI, as it has been for nearly a century.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Yes, I know. I was making fun of your risible comment.

Bill
Guest
Bill
3 years 2 months ago

So, I’m curious as to how the hitter puts these runners on base in front of him. I’m unfamiliar with the game, but you seem to be contending that he has some control over whether or not they get on base. If he’s rewarded for “driving them in” he must in some be responsible for them being there. It would seem to me that if better players batted in front of him, he would have more opportunities to drive in runs and would then have more RBIs with talent only being one factor, but I must not know all the rules. If a player could only hit dribblers to second, but always had runners on third with less than two outs, the Dribble King would challenge Hack Willson. Would he therefore be a good player?

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 2 months ago

The Dribble King would certainly be a valuable player. You can’t imagine the number of runs the Yankees have lost this year for lack of a Dribble King.

All players’ numbers are affected by context that is out of their control. There really is no such thing as a context neutral stat, because both pitchers and hitters change their approach depending on the context of the game. This site loves to promote WAR as context neutral and “what actually happened”. But it is neither. FFS, its a counting stat that is dependent on batting order!

Why shouldn’t game context matter when determining an MVP? MVP is not defined as the best player, or the player with the highest WAR. It is the player that was most valuable to their team and the context of the team matters, and the situations that the player happens to find himself in matter.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

The BBWAA also says “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player”.

Anyway, why are we bothering so much with an award that is voted by the media?

LK
Guest
LK
3 years 2 months ago

I’m a Yankee fan, and I’ve watched them this year, and they’re losing runs because their hitter suck, not because they can’t hit dribblers enough.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
3 years 2 months ago

LK,

Yes, their hitters are awful. But how often do you see them strand runners on third with less than two outs? Dribbler would be great, because as it is, they are just striking out or hitting into double plays. …or if its Vernon Wells, infield popup.

Guest
Guest
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

Of course the Dribble King would be a valuable player! (Good response DNA+) Would you not be happy with 190 RBI in a season? It takes runs/rbi to win the game. Maybe someone should start charting a conversion percentage for how many baserunners a hitter knocks in (RBI minus HR)/(number of people on base for the hitter’s at bats). You could even break it down into categories based on how many outs or whether the runners were in scoring position or not.

Sometimes I just get sick of people that do math telling baseball players that they dont know anything about baseball even though they got places in the game that we all wish we could have. The last time I checked, the winner of World Series games was calculated by determining who scored more runs in the games, not who would be expected to score or prevent more runs in a neutral context over a large sample size.

And just so people can enjoy calling me stupid; sometimes in things like war, sports, and life, the will to win matters.

Its people that dont have the will to win that think it doesnt matter as they sit around wondering why their life isnt everything they dreamed of as a child.

scraps
Guest
scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Sometimes I just get sick of people that do math telling baseball players that they dont know anything about baseball

Then you’re arguing with (wait fot it!) a straw man. Why should I bother with a guy who makes up both sides?

Razor
Guest
Razor
3 years 2 months ago

Wasn’t sure this was trolling until “the will to win” was brought up. Well-played.

Guest
Guest
Guest
3 years 2 months ago

Who is arguing here? Just stating observations.

Why does table “scraps” assume that every reader is either a statistician or major leaguer. There is a large continuum in between. There are way too many people on this site, like you, that feel as if its either or.

Other than Jeff Sullivan, it seems to me there are a lot of people here that don’t actually watch games, but just check stats and box scores after the fact.

There was an excellent article this site linked to a few weeks ago that basically stated that advanced statistics cant always give you the great decision over the good decision to make, but that they are very valuable in helping you avoid bad decisons.

Baseball and everything else in life is context dependent. Its called situational hitting. Hitting a groundball behind a runner and moving them up a base does not show up in a box score. Breaking up a double play doesnt either.

I am absolutely serious about the will to win being important.

Owen
Guest
Owen
3 years 2 months ago

Sorting career stats by wRC+, Cabrera appears to be around #13 among right-handed hitters, behind Hornsby, Pujols, Foxx, Allen, Mays, Thomas, Robinson, Greenberg, Trout, Ramirez, Aaron, and DiMaggio. Interesting how they clump: RHers are #4, #9-10, #18-25, #27-28. Lefty power!

BTW, I can’t find a way to sort by handedness; does FG have this functionality? Would be nice.

Cooper Nielson
Guest
Cooper Nielson
3 years 2 months ago

“Hornsby, Pujols, Foxx, Allen, Mays, Thomas, Robinson, Greenberg, Trout, Ramirez, Aaron, and DiMaggio”

One of these things is not like the other…

Trout’s career is off to a fantastic, maybe even unprecedented, start, but let’s keep some perspective here. Shane Spencer would have made this list after his first year. :)

LK
Guest
LK
3 years 2 months ago

Shane Spencer had 73 PAs in his first year and put up a 77 wRC+ the next year. I get your point (and it applies to Miggy too, since he hasn’t had his inevitable decline yet), but by the time Spencer had as many PAs as Trout has had he’d already been exposed and then some.

Scraps
Guest
Scraps
3 years 2 months ago

Okay… Kevin Maas!

Alfred Boulton
Guest
Alfred Boulton
3 years 2 months ago

Cabrera usually gets better toward the last half of the season. There’s a big sample size that proves that. That may not happen this year, but it probably will, which means he may end up with an average close to .400, between 50 and 60 HRs and close to the record for RBI in a year. He also keeps getting better, so last year may be his average for a few years to come. At the end of his career he’ll probably be among the top 10 hitters of all time. All those people who were saying back when Cabrera was a Marlin, that he was too fat and would suck the following year, actually make me think that Cabrera is among the top 10 most durable players over the last ten years, and he may be one of those who goes on to play another ten years like his first ten years. That will mean he’ll be in the 600 HRs and 3000 hits club, if not more. In a club among Willie Mays and Hank Aaron? Yes I am a Miguel Cabrera fan!

Matty Brown
Member
Member
Matty Brown
3 years 2 months ago

208 wRC+ as of today

Dave
Guest
Dave
3 years 2 months ago

As we are almost halfway through the major league baseball season – thought you’d appreciate the comparison here between what Miguel Cabrera is doing this year – vs. Musial’s 1948. I will simply take the liberty of doubling all of Cabrera’s addable stats this season (e.g. he has 308 AB so far; so project out to 616) – and compare to Musial’s at end of season

AB: Musial – 611; Cabrera – 616
R: Musial – 135; Cabrera – 124
H: Musial – 230; Cabrera – 232
2B: Musial – 46; Cabrera – 40
HR: Musial – 39; Cabrera – 48
RBI: Musial – 131; Cabrera – 162
BA: Musial – .376; Cabrera – .377
TB: Musial – 429; Cabrera – 420

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