Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Measuring Value

It’s that time of year again – with just a few weeks left in the season, baseball writers are turning their focus to the postseason awards, and as usual, the MVP races are the ones that are going to get the most attention. In the NL, the conversation is mostly about finding ways to make sure that Ryan Braun doesn’t win his second straight trophy, with Buster Posey stepping up to provide BBWAA members the out that they so desperately want. Over in the AL, there hasn’t been as much discussion for most of the summer, as Mike Trout has been running laps around the rest of the contenders, making it hard to put together any kind of realistic argument for a non-Trout candidate.

However, Miguel Cabrera is having a monstrous September, hitting .373/.426/.797 over the last couple of weeks, and now that he’s taken the lead in both batting average and runs batted, the talk of a potential “triple crown” has breathed life into his candidacy. Jon Morosi went so far as to call the decision to give Cabrera the award “a formality” and say that it’s “obvious” that Cabrera is the right choice. Instead of engaging in a hyperbole-off, however, let’s actually investigate the actual differences between them this season and see whether the case for Cabrera actually stands up to logic and reason.

Thanks to the custom leaderboards, it’s easy to put Trout and Cabrera’s season lines right next to each other for easy comparison. So, let’s just go through and look at the actual differences between what they’ve done this year, starting with their overall performances at the plate in the basic counting statistics.

Plate Appearances: Cabrera, +60
Singles: Cabrera, +2
Doubles: Cabrera, +14
Triples: Trout, +6
Home Runs: Cabrera, +13
Walks + Hit By Pitch: Cabrera, +1
Ground Into Double Plays: Cabrera, +21
Total Bases: Cabrera, +64
Outs Made: Cabrera, +54

Because Trout got called up to the Majors at the end of April, Cabrera has played in 21 additional games, so most of the counting stats go in his favor. And, Morosi has a legitimate point when he talks about number of games played, as we can’t simply ignore the fact that Cabrera has played an additional three weeks worth of games, creating value for his team in the process.

However, that last category is the one that never gets mentioned, but is perhaps the one that speaks the loudest out of all of them. Cabrera’s additional playing time has earned him an additional 60 trips to the plate, but in those 60 extra plate appearances, he’s made 54 extra outs. If we’re going to depend on counting stats to measure the difference in value from a quantity standpoint, we cannot ignore the fact that Cabrera’s propensity for hitting into double plays — he leads the American League with 28 GIDPs — has had a significant negative impact on the Tigers offense. We cannot simply count up the number of additional positive benefits that the Tigers have gotten from Cabrera’s playing time advantage without also accounting for the negatives.

Of course, comparing double plays grounded into between a leadoff hitter and a clean-up guy isn’t apples for apples, since Cabrera comes up with men on base far more frequently. Cabrera is first in GIDPs in large part because he’s second in GIDP opportunities — only Robinson Cano, with 144 chances to hit into a double play this year, has had more GIDP opps — and Cabrera’s 138 GIDP opportunities is nearly double Trout’s 75, which is a natural byproduct of their positions in the batting order. We shouldn’t just hold Cabrera’s extra GIDP outs against him without adjusting for the context of his quantity of chances.

But, of course, that’s exactly what the argument for Cabrera wants you to do with RBIs. Ignore context, ignore opportunity, and just focus on the fact that Cabrera has driven in 52 more runs than Trout has. If you’re going to quote Cabrera’s RBI advantage, you must also quote his massive disadvantage in GIDPs – they are the fruit of the same tree. The more intellectually honest way to measure this value is through looking at both GIDPs and RBIs as a function of plate appearances where those results were made possible by the actions of the people batting in front of both players, but if you’re not going to do that with RBIs, then you have to count the full weight of Cabrera’s extra outs against him.

If you’d rather actually adjust for those opportunity differences, however, we should probably note that Cabrera has had 415 baserunners when he’s batted this year, compared to just 274 for Trout. Cabrera has driven in 52 additional runs while having an extra 141 guys on base because of where he hits in the line-up. If we look at runs driven in as a percentage of total men on base when both men hit, we see that Cabrera has driven in 31% of his total baserunners, while Trout is at 28% – both way above the league average of 15%, and a difference much smaller than raw RBI totals would lead you to believe.

There’s really two choices here – ignore opportunities and give Cabrera credit for driving in many more runs while also penalizing him for creating many more outs, or adjust for opportunity and realize that Cabrera hasn’t actually been that much better than Trout at bringing his teammates home once they get on base. And, of course, none of this accounts for anything that happens after the two of them leave the batters box, or the value of the extra runs that Trout creates with his legs.

Left out of the net difference table above were things like stolen bases and other runner advancements, but of course those have value, and even the staunchest Cabrera supporter should admit that Trout should get some credit for the value of his speed. So, let’s look at the net differences in things that have to do with baserunning.

Stolen Bases: Trout, +42
Caught Stealing: Trout, +3
Other Outs Made On Base: Cabrera, +2
First to Third on a Single: Trout, +13
Second to Home on a Single: Trout, +5

This is Trout in a landslide, as you’d expect. Not only has Trout put himself in scoring position far more often by stealing second base, he’s also scored more often when his teammates have gotten hits and he’s been on base. The fact that Trout has 18 additional runs scored despite playing in those 21 fewer games shows the magnitude of the difference that baserunning can make, and it’s of course silly to only consider runs created with the bat and ignore those with the legs. Trout has scored 45% of the times he’s been on base — easily the highest of any regular in the AL — compared to a league average of just 31% and Cabrera’s 28% total. Yes, some of that is having Albert Pujols hit behind him, but of course Prince Fielder hits behind Cabrera, mitigating the argument that run scored percentage is solely a function of the guy hitting behind you.

So, again, we see Cabrera’s offensive advantage dwindling here. We know that his RBI difference is mostly a function of the additional baserunners he’s been given through his line-up spot, while Trout’s runs scored difference is mostly about his speed on the bases. It’s disingenuous to measure one without the other, just like it’s disingenuous to ignore all the extra outs Cabrera has made because of his proclivity for hitting into double plays.

That’s why, despite Cabrera’s chance at the triple crown, any decent measure of total offensive production will say that Cabrera hasn’t produced any more runs for the Tigers than Trout has for the Angels despite the three week head start. If you just look at Trout and Cabrera’s Batting plus Baserunning in the value section, you’ll note that Trout’s offensive performance has been +57.6 runs better than an average offensive performer this year, while Cabrera checks in at +50.3 runs.

And, look, this isn’t voodoo magic that deals with theoretical replacement levels – this is simply the result of adding up all the positive and negative offensive events that both Trout and Cabrera have produced this year. Even with the 21 fewer games played, Trout has produced more runs this season. The only way to come to a different conclusion is to selectively choose the kinds of runs you want to measure. By objective metrics that include all aspects of offensive value, Mike Trout has been a better offensive performer than Cabrera this year.

If you think that the MVP should be only based on offensive performance with no consideration to defense or position played, then the evidence would lead you to believe that Trout has a narrow edge over Cabrera. Of course, position scarcity and defensive contributions absolutely should be a factor, and both of those point to Trout by laughably large margins, so the only way to make a case for Cabrera is to pretend that we shouldn’t measure those things. And, in actuality, to further that case, we actually have to obscure the truth.

Morosi makes the argument that Cabrera deserves credit for his defense because he was willing to make the move to third base to accommodate the acquisition of Prince Fielder. His hard work and selflessness in changing positions should be seen as a net positive in terms of defensive contribution, even if he is objectively bad at playing the position. However, there’s a pretty serious problem with this scenario – Cabrera didn’t have to move to third base for the Tigers to sign Prince Fielder. Instead, he could have simply agreed to become a designated hitter. Instead, Cabrera decided he didn’t want to retire his glove and become a hitter-only, so the Tigers were instead forced to move him to third base, since neither Cabrera nor Fielder was willing to take the DH role at this point in their career.

In reality, Cabrera’s switch to third base made room not for Fielder, but for Delmon Young to spend a majority of his time at DH, which freed up an outfield spot for the likes of Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly, Quinton Berry, and Andy Dirks. Had Cabrera been willing to actually take one for the team and DH, those are the guys who would have lost playing time, not Prince Fielder. Does anyone seriously want to argue that the Tigers are better off because Cabrera decided to become a bad defensive third baseman so that that group could get more playing time?

Look, even here at FanGraphs, we don’t think the MVP award should just be the WAR of the Year award. We’ve said repeatedly that WAR is a useful tool for identifying groups of players who have had similar years, and it takes a precision that WAR is not capable of providing to determine the differences between guys who are within the same overall range of value. The problem with the argument surrounding Trout and Cabrera is that they’re not in the overall same range of value. Mike Trout is a group unto himself this year – a fantastic defensive center fielder who also happens to be the best baserunner in baseball and who has hit nearly as well as anyone else alive.

You don’t have to buy into WAR as the be-all, end-all statistic to know that Trout has been the AL’s best player by a country mile this year. Simply look at all the facts, and not just the three that were treated as important 100 years ago. Morosi is right about one thing – whether Miguel Cabrera wins the triple crown or not should be irrelevant. The AL MVP is obvious. It’s just not Miguel Cabrera.




Print This Post



Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


275 Responses to “Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Measuring Value”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Pinstripe Wizard says:

    What happens if Cabrera does win the Triple Crown? You could still make every argument you made here, which would push it over to Trout. However, the scarcity of the Triple Crown would almost assuredly sway voters in Cabrera’s direction.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      Dave isn’t arguing who WILL win. He’s arguing who SHOULD win.

      +37 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pinstripe Wizard says:

        I understand what he’s arguing. I was just saying that if Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, he could continue to make the case that Trout should win, but there would be little chance he would IMO.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • David says:

        There is actual precedent for a triple crown winner (without the snarky quotes around it) not to win the MVP award. It happened to the best hitter born after 1900.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jscape2000 says:

        “It happened to the best hitter born after 1900.”
        And then it happened to Ted Williams twice!

        +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • NeverJamToday says:

      Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice but finished second in the MVP voting each time. And I thought batting average and RBIs were overrated stats.

      +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bradsbeard says:

      The Triple Crown is fun, but it’s kind of like hitting for the cycle. Accomplishing it doesn’t automatically prove you are the best player in baseball any more than hitting for the cycle proves you had a better night at the plate than the guy who hit a home run and three doubles or two home runs with a double and a walk. The fact that Cabrera might win the first Triple Crown in forever and STILL not be the best player in the AL this season just speaks volumes about how good Trout has been.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • RickD says:

        “The Triple Crown is fun, but it’s like hitting for the cycle.”

        Disagree completely. The Triple Crown isn’t predicated on filling arbitrary slots. If you had two batters, one of whom hit for the cycle and the other of whom hit four HRs, the latter would have contributed more to the Triple Crown than the former.

        The cycle is an accomplishment that is decidedly sub-optimal. OTOH, a Triple Crown winner has gone most of the way to demonstrating that he’s the best hitter in the league that season.

        And the media hated Ted Williams, which is why they voted for DiMaggio instead.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bradsbeard says:

        Sure, the Triple Crown is a much greater and meaningful accomplishment then the cycle, but my point is that just accomplishing the Triple Crown does not guarantee you were the best player that season. Saying “this guy hit for the Triple Crown, so he has to be the MVP” even though other relevant stats suggests another player is better is kind of like saying “this guy hit for the cycle, so he has to have had the best hitting line of the game” when in fact another player homered three times on the night. Marvel at the rare accomplishment, but that doesn’t automatically make him more valuable.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • alex says:

        He want David Wright to win, hes trying to use subliminal messages by spelling RIGHT, WRIGHT

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnny says:

      Nice try, but this article is flawed.

      Is a run in a 1-1 game the same as run in a 9-1 game? Where are the “clutch” numbers? There are none because Cabreras numbers are silly good in the late innings in close game.

      Dismissing RBI’s because 1 guy bats 3rd and has more chances is rediculous. With that logic you cannot use Trouts baserunning ability in his favor. If he batted 3rd he would have far less opprotunities to steal, or go 1st to 3rd. Its harder to steal with (slower) runners on base.

      Mike Trout is hitting 280 since Aug 1, Cabrera has been more consistant, hitting 300 every month. Does that not count either? What about the ballpark factors, O that’s right Comerica is a National Park. Anaheim is a bandbox. If your going to wright an article trying to be unbiased, than wright an unbiased article.

      -35 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Babe says:

        Hmmm can’t tell if this is real or if I’m about to feed a troll.

        First of all a run is a run and a hit is a hit. It does not matter what inning it is. Are you saying Miggy does not try as hard in the first inning of a scoreless game?

        He did not dismiss RBI. Miggy drives in 31% while Trout drives in 28%. Pure RBI totals are irrelevant.

        Don’t know where you heard Anaheim is a bandbox. It is, in fact, tougher to hit in than Comerica.

        Lastly, it’s write not wright.

        +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jay Stevens says:

        Babe got the points about RBI and the ballparks — Comerica has actually been more hitter-friendly this year — but I do think the clutch question is legit. Not all runs are equal. Clutch hitting isn’t predictive — it appears to be mostly a matter of luck, not indicative of a player’s ability — but it does tell you how much a player actually contributed to his team.

        That said, using RBIs or situational batting average, say, as a measurement of clutch is not very useful. But Fangraphs has its lovely win probability stats, and in those, Trout dominates Cabrera. Trout’s 5.57 WPA is the best in MLB, and his “Clutch” is 0.04. Cabrera clocks in at a 4.45 WPA and a horrendous -1.36 “Clutch.” Trout does more to contribute to his team’s wins, and performs better in high leverage situations.

        +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Philip Zaroo says:

        A run is a run and a hit is a hit for people who can only think in terms of numbers. There are other factors, and you don’t have to be a stats-hater to realize that. Stats have a place, without question. They’re nowhere near absolute, though. A player’s every situational performance is an order of magnitude harder to quantify absolutely and accurately, but you damn well better believe a hit isn’t a hit isn’t a hit, unless all you care about his that singular number. Situations, and how players respond to them, do matter.

        What I find most disturbing from this article, just in terms of being balanced, is completely ignoring that Trout had nearly 50 percent more strikeouts than Cabrera. Isn’t getting the ball in play important?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chris says:

      This article is biased. I can do the same to Trout. Trout 46/50 stolen bags 92%. Cabrera 4/5 stolen bags 80%. Cabreras coaches just underutilize him in stealing if they sent him Cabrera would have 40 bags this year. To Trouts 46. Thats a far stretch for those that know Cabby but using math it is perfectly reasonable to say. Actually if you break down all of the running categories into percents the only category Trout leads in is going 1st to 3rd on a single. The rest the percentages are within a few percentage points. So the overwhelming Trout advantage is now just he has a higher WAR and goes 1st to 3rd better.

      -23 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Doug says:

      One thing I believe you have wrong in your article. The Tigers werent forced by Cabrera to have him play third base. They wanted him to play third base so he can play third base also in 2013 when Victor Martinez comes back as the regular DH. If Miguel didnt play in the field a whole year, then it would be hard for him to play third in 2013

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Trout should be the AL MVP, monster season. It’s ironic that Bryce Harper got much more hype, but Trout has been the better player so far by a large margin.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John Ford-Griffindor says:

      And Harper is a year younger. You know, when Trout put up a sub .300 OBP and sub .400 SLUG line. Yeah, the media was stupid to think that Harper was more likely to be good, but Harper still is incredible for a 19 yr old.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • cwendt says:

      Trout is a year older. Compare their age-19 seasons, and Harper’s was far better (in counting stats, obviously, but also in AVG/OBP/SLG/WOBA/WRC+).

      Harper has had one of the top 5 age-19 seasons ever; we’ll see how the comparison holds after next year.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TRob says:

        I’m not downplaying Harper’s season, it certainly is one of the best for a 19 year old. But I don’t think Trout’s sample size is big enough last year to really say he couldn’t have had similar numbers and the Harper is surely to explode next year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @TRob

        Trout didn’t get a large sample size last season because he wasn’t good enough for the Angels to keep playing him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matthias says:

        That’s laughable. Wasn’t he competing with Wells, Hunter and Bourjos? I think it’s easy to argue that, even last season, he was better than Wells. And if not for a ridiculously low BABIP, he would have been more valuable than Hunter.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tony says:

        Trout being a year older means absolutley nothing when comparing the two.

        -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • colin says:

        @Tony

        It does not mean nothing. However, I agree that people overblow age here. Age has an impact overall. The average 20 year old will be performing at a higher level than the average 19 year old for sure, however that means nothing in specific individual cases. Any individual player could be more advanced or less advanced for his age. They all fall somewhere on the normal distribution and it is not always in the middle. So while it does not mean nothing, in the individual cases of Harper and Trout, where we are simply guessing about where they are in the distribution, it means very little.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      Harper and Trout aren’t peers. Harper has been 5 times as valuable in his age-19 season as Trout was. He has the second most home runs by a teenager of all time.

      A-Rod? Griffey? Not in the same stratosphere as Harper in terms of production at age 19.

      Harper is the best teenager in the last 80 years. Trout is the second-best 20 year old in the last 20 years. Most people saw A-Rod’s 1996, very few people alive have ever seen a teenager this good. Of course people are more excited about Harper.

      Trout’s having a special year at age 20, but we’ve seen this before. None of us have seen someone do what Harper’s doing.

      -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • theojd says:

        LOL @ this.

        I feel fairly confident Harper will NEVER have a season better than Trout’s 2012. He probably won’t even come close. Is it possible that he could? Sure. But ~10 WAR seasons don’t happen everyday. There’s a long list of Hall of Famers who haven’t done it.

        For one thing, Harper has had almost a full season at age 19. Had Trout been allowed to play out a full year things might have been different. But we’ll never know.

        Harper has been great. But do you really think since Harper at 19 > Trout at 19, then Harper at 20 > Trout at 20? I’m not sure you’re saying that, but clearly this won’ be.

        And I’m sorry but I’m pretty sure we HAVEN’T seen this before. Not this particular combination of skills doing what Trout is doing at this age. I’m pretty sure there is a littany of articles all over the interwebs that will support that.

        So, in essence, you were correct with your first statement……Harper and Trout aren’t peers.

        +45 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matthias says:

        There no really helpful sample size for Harper’s accomplishments as a 19-year-old. So we have to use a little intuition to create the conditional probability for this question: What is the probability that a 20-year-old has a 2012-Trout-like season GIVEN he had an age-19 Harper-like season?

        That probability is probably quite low. Consider this, what is the probability that a player will put up a 10-WAR season GIVEN he has already put up a 10-WAR season in his career? That might not even be 50%. I’d have to believe the first probability is lower than the second.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        @theojd

        This is a more bold prediction than you think. Here’s the list of age 19 players with a wRC+ of 100 or greater since 1900, min 300 PA: Mel Ott (8.9), Tony Conigliaro (4.0), Ty Cobb (12.7), Sherry McGee (8.8), Cesear Cedeno (8.8), Mickey Mantle (12.2) Ken Griffey Jr. (10.2). The number in parenthesis is that player’s single season best WAR. Three of those guys posted multiple 9+ WAR seasons: Jr. (3 times), Mantle (5), Cobb (6). Only one of those guys “didn’t come close” to a 10 WAR season.

        You should be fairly confident that Harper will post a 9 win season some day. There are a lot more 10 WAR season than 19 year olds that hit double digit home runs, and all of those guys except one (whose career ended with a tragic injury) made it to the Hall.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • theojd says:

        Philosofool,

        That’s a fair point for sure. My only counter would be that the sample size is so small. Half those players didn’t top 10 WAR. Trout himself is not quite there (according to fWAR anyway. bWAR has him over 10).

        I still maintain the odds of Harper having any one year better than Trout this year are pretty low. There are other factors as well obviously with injuries being a big one.

        Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. Let’s see if Harper is the best player in baseball next year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • mlmorgen says:

        Get all the mileage out of this argument while you can YanksFanInBeantown. It expires in a year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jesse Anderson says:

        Harper and Trout are not peers in that Trout is head and shoulders above harpers level of play. He hits almost 100 points higher with better numbers everywhere you look and is a gold glove fielder. Harpers batting 250 ish with 19 homer’s? Please. There’s a bunch of newcomers young and old to post that kind of productivity. We will be talking about Trout for years while Harper will fade. They are peers in the sense that they are a year apart in age and both posting their first full season’s. Beyond that, Trout has no peer
        Trout is better than Harper from top to bottom. It’s really a “Clown Question” to debate Trout’s superiority to Harper.

        -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        @theojd

        I’m not sure we can say that Trout is the best player in baseball, though we can say he’s had the best performance this year. Being the best player is about true talent, MVP is about actual production. We shouldn’t ignore Trout’s BABIP. Yeah, yeah, he’s fast. His BABIP of fly balls is about 150% of MLB average, and you can’t argue that speed lets him leg out fly balls (fly balls that land are singles, pretty much regardless of speed.) And, indeed, guys who hit the ball harder tend to have lower fly ball BABIP (power is hang time which results in time for outfielders to reach the ball.)

        I think Ryan Braun is the best player in baseball, and if not him, Cabrera, actually. Again, MVP should go to the most productive player, not the one whose true talent you estimate as highest.

        Anyway, anyone who thinks that Trout won’t out perform Harper next year is being silly. Anyone who doesn’t see that Harper is also going to be a very, very good player is just as silly.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @theojd
        You’re right, we haven’t seen this before. A-Rod had better numbers across the board while playing a more demanding position in 1996.

        And Trout’s WAR is inflated by his UBR numbers. I don’t think anyone here believes that A-Rod was 6 runs worse running the bases than Trout was over a full season.

        And Mel Ott and Ty Cobb the only players who have had a comparable age-19 seasons to Harper, had 8.9 and 7.6 WAR respectively in their age-20 seasons. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Cobb was closer to 8 WAR, baserunning included, considering that he stole 49 bases that year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • cs3 says:

        @ theojd

        “I feel fairly confident Harper will NEVER have a season better than Trout’s 2012. H”

        Ya and I feel fairly confident that Trout himself never will either. Whats your point?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • #teamteddy says:

        Trout’s age 20 season is off the charts, and it’s safe to say Harper probably won’t match this next year. But it’s not likely Trout will, either. He’s having an amazing season that is in all likelihood not his true talent level. I’ll concede Trout has the edge right now, but is it not sensible to let them rack of several seasons’ worth of numbers, and enjoy the fireworks, before we debate which of the two is better?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • theojd says:

        It seemed to me that Yanksfan was trying to use Harper’s age 19 season (which I’m not arguing is historic) as evidence that he is somehow better or will be better than Trout. Maybe that wasn’t the intention.

        “Harper is the best teenager in the last 80 years. Trout is the second-best 20 year old in the last 20 years.”

        Sure, Arod’s age 20 season was amazing, but so is Trout’s. Looks fairly close to me.

        Braun Miggy are amazing. Braun has been my favorite player since he entered the league. But as has been mentioned so many times, Trout’s defense is the X-factor.

        Now, is Trout going to be a 30 hr hitter year in-year out? I’m not sure about that. But you can bank on a ton of extra base hits either way. He is an elite basestealer in terms of efficiency and speed, is a plus defender, and has a very potent bat. Now many better packages around……and that includes Bryce.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @theojd
        They’re not that close. If you take away Trout’s baserunning score, (because UBR doesn’t go back to 1996) he’s a full win behind A-Rod.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jay Stevens says:

        Theojd:

        And I’m sorry but I’m pretty sure we HAVEN’T seen this before. Not this particular combination of skills doing what Trout is doing at this age. I’m pretty sure there is a littany of articles all over the interwebs that will support that.

        Alex Rodriguez in 1996 as a 20-year-old hit .358/.414/.631 at shortstop, good for a 9.8 fWAR. You could argue Trout’s wRC+ is higher, so he’s better, but I think the seasons are comparable, and an argument could be made for either.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sally Brown says:

        A ten-month difference in age is relevant when you’re trying to determine whether your child is ready for kindergarten or should take another year of pre-school, but not so much when they’re two decades old. I think you should tailor your statement to cite the extra development time for Trout (close to twice as many pre-MLB PAs as Harper). Even then, I’m not so sure where exactly it is you’re going with it. Harper’s a fine player, but it’s not as though his age-19 season is historic. Trout’s, on the other hand, is fairly rare. I’m betting against a 2013 from Harper that comes close to Trout’s 2012.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @Sally, Harper’s season IS historic. No teenager has been this good in over 80 years. He has the second most home runs ever by a teenager. Trout’s season is almost as good as A-Rod’s was 16 years ago.

        And of course Harper probably won’t match Trout next season. But Trout probably won’t match Trout next season if the last two months are any indication. A-Rod never matched his 1996 season.

        It’s entirely possible that Harper is the better player going forward, these seasons are the exception, not the rule.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KDL says:

      This is the most played-out comment on baseball boards. Seriously…espn comment section readers think this is un-original.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Ian says:

    I don’t have any problem with Trout being MVP – even ignoring numbers, he clearly impacted the Angels into the playoff race.

    That said, I do have a question. Trout is a center fielder who has started about a quarter of his games in left and has been moved to left later in games in another 30 or so for a (presumably) better defensive center fielder. Do those switches much up his defensive ratings by either giving him too little or too much credit, since the sample size, defensively, is still pretty small. Less than a season’s worth of work at either position must complicate defensive value calculations, if that makes sense.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Keith says:

      Well, without looking, I’d guess that the switch to left late in games was for Peter Bourjos, who is great to an unfair level on defense. Bourjos is 6th in UZR, while playing about 40% of the innings of the guys above him. That is why he easily leads the league in UZR/150, because of that small sample size. However, Trout’s career is also a small sample size, but Bourjos has a career UZR higher than Trout in more innings, indicating he is likely the better defender.

      It’s not that Trout is moving from CF to LF because he is not a great fielder, it is because they do not have a great defensive LF, and their defensive specialist just so happens to be one of the few players on the planet who can field better than Trout.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Michael says:

        “2/3rds of the planet is covered by water, the other 1/3rd? By Peter Bourjos” ~some fangraphs poster I can’t remember from way back.

        +20 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phrozen says:

        Garry Maddox haz a sad.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Michael Scarn says:

        The original is “water covers 2/3 of the Earth, Champ Bailey covers the rest”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        If only he could hit. At all.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • hk says:

        The original is “water covers 2/3 of the Earth, Champ Bailey covers the rest”

        As Phrozen references, they were saying that about Gary Maddox before Champ Bailey was even born.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phantom Stranger says:

        Bourjos is easily the best defensive centerfielder on the planet today, it’s just his unfortunate luck the second-best centerfielder whom happens to be a much better offensive player is on his team.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dag Gummit says:

        Bourjos is easily the best defensive centerfielder on the planet today, it’s just his unfortunate luck the second-best centerfielder whom happens to be a much better offensive player is on his team.
        _____

        Not being someone who follows the Angels and who devotes probably 80-85% of his baseball fan+geekdom on the Mariners and almost all the rest on fantasy, my initial reaction to this was “Have people really truly forgotten about Franklin Gutierrez that quickly?” Then I actually looked at Bourjos’ defensive numbers.

        Daaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyuuuuuuum

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chel says:

      The fact that he has a smaller sample size defensively does not affect the contributions he has made or what has happened on the field, it only gives us less security assessing his true talent level and projecting him going forward.

      That’s a mistake that keeps down the public opinion on defensive metrics that needs to be fought. UZR tells you exactly what happend, but not necessarily what will keep happening.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Keith says:

        I would basically say that UZR over one season is like ERA. FIP might say it won’t continue, but it happened. That’s why I’m not a big fan of using FIP in Cy Young analysis, unless the ERAs are somewhat close and the FIPs aren’t.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        UZR doesn’t tell you exactly what happened. It tells you exactly what the UZR model said happened.

        MGL doesn’t claim UZR is totally accurate, so I’m not sure why Fangraphs readers insist upon doing so.

        +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chel says:

        You are right, I shouldn’t have used the word “exactly”. It doesn’t account for many many factors.

        But that wasn’t my point.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • RickD says:

      “he clearly impacted the Angels into the playoff race.”

      Using “impact” as a verb is bad enough, but this usage makes me shudder.

      There are plenty of actual verbs that would have done the job better here. “catapulted,” “launched,” “drove,” “propelled”, etc.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ian says:

        True, not my best sentence. I think I was writing two thought (big impact and angels in playoff race) and then just combined them and didn’t give it a look over.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dag Gummit says:

        Using “impact” as a verb is bad enough, but this usage makes me shudder.

        While I can agree that the usage may not be optimal, “impact” is indeed used as a verb in both major English standards.

        Oxford Definition: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/impact
        Merriam-Webster Definition:
        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impact

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • squads says:

        well, yeah, but in the sense that your bowels can be impacted…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dag Gummit says:

        well, yeah, but in the sense that your bowels can be impacted…

        That is one>/b> sense of it, yes. However, if you read the definition of impact as a verb, you would see:
        “verb
        Pronunciation: /?m?pakt/ [no object]
        1come into forcible contact with another object:
        the shell impacted twenty yards away
        [with object] (chiefly North American); come into forcible contact with:
        an asteroid impacted the earth some 60 million years ago
        [with object] press (something) firmly:
        the animals‘ feet do not impact and damage the soil as cows’ hooves do”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Integrate says:

        Using “impacted” as a verb was bad?

        I’m an engineer and the word “impact” is the technically correct verb when describing the the transfer of energy, causing the motion of an object. He used “impact” in the correct context; albeit, it was used in a metaphorical sense, because Trout did not literally hit the Angels with anything, but it was still fine.

        All the other verbs you described are not better or worse at the describing the metaphorical description. Trout would not literally catapult, launch, drive, or propel the Angels into anything.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. brian says:

    Your lack of context is laughable Dave. How can one possible argue that Cabrera moving to third was bad for Detroit when becoming a DH would have made Brandon Inge and Don Kelly the thirdbaseman and placed Delmon Young in the outfield. Besides he shouldn’t be faulted either way. The move was forced on him because Prince wanted to keep his position. Furthermore it isn’t as if he is butcher at third either, he isn’t good at third, but there are a number who are worse. I agree with you Trout is the MVP but your later points are severely flawed wrongfully contextualized.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Keith says:

      Of the 14 qualified 3B for UZR, Cabrera ranks 13th. If you cut it down to 500 innings, Cabrera is 28th out of 30. Delmon Young’s career UZR/150 of -11.6 is better than the -12.0 UZR/150 Cabrera has this season, small sample size obviously coming into play. However, you can look and see that Cabrera has a career UZR/150 of -6.4, but he also barely played the position after 2007, and he’s likely gotten a bit bigger and slower while playing 1B since then, so a UZR/150 of -8 on the high end and -12 on the low end might not be a stretch.

      So, really, the defense between Young and Cabrera might be a push, though I will say that without more knowledge, I’ll call Young’s defensive placement worse than Cabrera’s. As for playing Inge, he’s a solid 2-win guy in a full season and can cover third well defensively, and he has done so since 2005.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • the fume says:

        Based on what I’ve seen watching the games I’d say +/- more accurately reflects Miggy’s fielding ability. Certainly below average, probably battling for poorest in the league, but he looks like an MLB 3B. Nowhere close to Mark Reynolds 3B or Adam Dunn OF bad. I think his advanced defensive metrics are going to depend on the other 3B in the league since it all equals 0 in the end. He doesn’t move great but his arm makes up for a lot, and, honestly, severe bruising on both ankles over the past several months have hurt his defense (and base-running).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        Brandon Inge sucks. He’s cracked 2 wins twice in the past 5 years. He’s a backup on a playoff team.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jonny says:

        UZR is the most worthless stat; especially for only looking at 1 season of production

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • suicide squeeze says:

        “He’s a backup on a playoff team.”

        He was actually a starter on a playoff team this year until he got injured. I know he’s no amazing player, but I think you’re statement is a little exaggerated.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @suicide squeeze

        Sorry, I meant he -should- be a backup on a playoff team. He has a .290 OBP this year, without nearly enough pop to justify it. 2 thirds of his WAR comes from his defense, making it even more suspect.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Andy says:

        I would also argue that Cabrera’s reasoning for moving to 3B wasn’t entirely altruistic. His value (and consequently, annual salary) is greater at 3B than at DH; in fact, I’d argue that it’s greater at 3B than at 1B.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Kevin says:

    So wait, taking Delmon Young’s “glove” out of the outfield and replacing it with Andy Dirks is a bad thing? Young was going to be on the team regardless, and that has very little to do with Cabrera opening up the DH spot for him.

    Any rational Tigers fan knows that Miguel Cabrera isn’t a very good 3B, but him accepting the challenge of manning 3B and doing an acceptable job overall is a good thing for the team.

    The bad things for the team? Filling those openings that the Cabrera move created with Young and Boesch for an entire season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Keith says:

      Read my above comment. Cabrera hasn’t been decent at third. He’s been contending for the title of Worst 3B in the League.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        -5 runs by DRS. He really hasn’t been an abomination this year.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Paul says:

        There is always a worst 3B in the league, just like there is always a least attractive SI Swimsuit Model in each years magazine – the point being that the worst in a closed group might still be good, just not as good relatively to the rest of the group.

        Like how Trout is the worst def CF on the Angels because Bourjos is so good (ok maybe Hunter or Wells are the worst) – but you see the point)

        Miggy has been reasonable at 3B, and a lot better than most expected, and should be given credit for being willing to move off 1B at all so allowing Prince to come to DET

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • colin says:

        His numbers were actually much better before the ankle injury. Still sub par overall, but much better.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MikeyD says:

        I literally registered an account just to respond to Paul’s comment, I found it so befuddling.

        Is your point that Miguel Cabrera isn’t that bad at 3B because we are comparing him to Major Leaguers (who, presumably, are pretty good at playing 3B compared to non-Major Leaguers)?

        If so… uh, yeah. He’s being asked to play a 3B in the Major Leagues.

        I would really love to hear you flesh this issue out more.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Paul says:

        @ MikeyD

        the point is his DEF at 3B might be sub-par, and I’m not arguing otherwise

        It’s just that it is a lazy argument to say that someone is the ‘worst 3B in the league’, when that gives no context to the relative strength of the rest of the group.

        Longoria would be the ‘worst def 3B in the league’ if the remainder of the league was peak Schmidt/Brooks/Rolen/Beltre etc…

        And in any case, even taking into account his substandard defense, WAR (which is not kind to big lumbering slow dude who play sub-standard defense) still has him as actaully the most valuable 3B in the league.

        Whatever he gives up on DEF, and of course in comparison to good 3B like Beltre, Moose, Lawrie, Inge, Longoria he will look worse is more than made up by his excellent bat

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MikeyD says:

        @Paul

        The thing is, if Beltre/Zimmerman/etc. were the standard 3B in the league, the positional adjustment for WAR would reflect the difficulty of playing the position and every 3B would get a boost.

        Defensive value is not without context- you just need to factor in positional adjustments *and* value relative to an average 3B.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Nick Doyle says:

    Trouts 45% scoring when reaching base percentage is probably skewed to the fact the he is on base with zero outs a lot of the time, being a lead off hitter. What percentage of at bat’s does each have with 0,1,2 out and what are the league avergaes for scoring a run when reaching base in those situations compared to what Trout and Cabrera do in those situations? Tot futher compare apples to apples

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ralph says:

      Yeah, I liked that Dave pointed out that of course Cabrera has had more GIDP opportunities (though he didn’t mention that Cabrera strikes out much less than Trout — which of course is both good for most situations and bad for avoiding GIDP), so I thought he’d be similarly fair with respect to Trout’s runs scored. If you put Cabrera leadoff in the Angels lineup, I’m sure his Run/Times on base would go up at least a couple percentage points, though of course Trout would still have a significant edge.

      Fielder bats only one spot behind Cabrera compared to Pujols being two batters behind Trout. That means Trout has the additional advantage of an extra batter to advance him before Pujols comes up. And even if Prince advances Cabrera a base or two, then Cabrera usually has to rely on Delmon Young and the Dregs to drive him in.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bobbo24 says:

        Dave ignored Trout’s K’s as well as Young/Boesch following Cabrera, because by his logic it was more reasonable for him.

        “This is Trout in a landslide, as you’d expect.”

        …from a leadoff hitter.

        “Not only has Trout put himself in scoring position far more often by stealing second base, he’s also scored more often when his teammates have gotten hits and he’s been on base.”

        …not only that, his teammates have hit many more HR’s when he’s been on base then Cabrera’s have.

        “The fact that Trout has 18 additional runs scored despite playing in those 21 fewer games shows the magnitude of the difference that baserunning can make, and it’s of course silly to only consider runs created with the bat and ignore those with the legs.”

        …and it’s of course also silly to emphasize runs scored while dismissing RBI after already admitting you can’t have one without the other.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Brian says:

    I’m a lifelong Tiger fan and I completely agree that Trout is the clear MVP. So setting that aside, the last few graphs of this are nonsense. There’s no evidence, nor has there even been any suggestion, to my knowledge, that Cabrera “forced the Tigers to move him to third base.” Every indication from the start has been that the Tigers asked him to move there and he was happy to do so. Suggesting that this was a selfish, destructive move by Cabrera is not supported by any evidence.

    And if you are going to argue that Cabrera’s time at 3B damaged the team by creating more playing time for their terrible crop of corner OFs, you need to consider who would have taken those at bats if Cabrera were the DH. For one, the 3B would likely have been Brandon Inge, the one person on Earth would might be a downgrade from those corner OFs, and Delmon Young would have logged a lot more time in LF. Any proposition that rests on Delmon Young getting more time in the field is automatically suspect and, if there were any justice, would be a federal crime. Is that really a better option?

    One last thing: I’m not an attorney, but lumping Andy Dirks in with Raburn and Don Kelly seems like it should be grounds for a libel claim. Dirks probably played a bit over his head this year, but he was undoubtedly a positive contributor.

    +43 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ralph says:

      Also regarding Dave’s point about how Cabrera hurts the team by playing 3B, it seems like many analysts live in a world where every defensive player should be above average. (Or be a DH, even if that would mean a lower total WAR.)

      Cabrera at 3B loses between 5 to 10 runs in raw UZR/150 compared to what he would have put up at 1B. But in any case, that’s more than made up for by the positional adjustment — in 2011 it was -12.1 and this year it’s +1.3. So from that somewhat SSS, there’s a pretty good case to be made that 3B is where Cabrera really is most valuable.

      +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • asdfasdf says:

      Just another Dave Cameron article. Solid for the first half, absurd ramblings with no evidence for the second half.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Kumar says:

    great article.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Ben says:

    You should put this into an Email to all of the BBWAA…….. it’s compelling. Very well done Dave.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Michael says:

    Dave, does Cabrera’s September leading the Tigers into the Postseason shift the discussion a little? Let’s assume they end with 10 and 7.4 WAR respectively.

    Now the Tigers without Cabrera are a nonplayoff team; whilst the Angels without Trout? Are not a playoff team. You see yes Trout is the better player the WAR difference would be akin to allowing Cabrera and a league average player are worth Trout’s value; but, if I as a team value reaching the playoffs more than having a starstudded team, Cabrera is definitely the more valuable player.

    So it comes down to whether the writers value Individual Value over Playoff Value. I personally would value the playoff value here over the Individual Value.

    Of course, this is moot if the Tigers fail to make the playoffs, or Cabrera wins the Triple crown as then the MVP would be, Trout and unanimously Cabrera respectively.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      The reason the Angels, who played miserably the first month of the season, are in the same discussion is b/c of Trout’s play.

      You can’t have one without the other.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bill_TPA says:

        “if I as a team value reaching the playoffs more than having a starstudded team, Cabrera is definitely the more valuable player.”

        Nope. If you value getting into the playoffs, you value the player who does the most to help you get there. That’s clearly Trout, and it’d be Trout even if he were on the Twins or Indians. You don’t value Cabrera more because (in your theoretical example) his teammates were more valuable than Triut’s. When you’re debating an individual award, that formulation makes no sense at all.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Michael says:

        Bill, I get what you’re saying and I agree. But what I was valuing is Cabrera’s september WAR essentially pushing the Tigers into the playoffs.

        Also, I think we can agree if Milton Bradley was having this kind of season you wouldn’t want him on your team. But that’s not the point as that’s a different argument not really pertaining to what I said.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brian says:

      Team W-L record and whether or not they make the playoffs matters not at all.

      If the Angels had gone 62-100, Trout should be the MVP
      If the Angels had gone 100-62, Trout should be the MVP

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Michael says:

        Let’s say Trout is on the Astros with their record 48-100, does he deserve to be MVP? No, because if that example could hapen WAR is broken.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chel says:

        Michael, why is WAR broken because that example¨

        Don’t you believe in negative producing players?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Michael says:

        Actually yeah, that was pretty dumb on my part. I just assumed a whole team aside from one player wouldn’t be negative, but that’s wrong. Thanks!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • NEbradyomg says:

        the award isn’t “most outstanding player” though…and all wins aren’t created equal. the difference between 85 wins and 90 wins is a lot more impt than 60 and 65 wins (and less impt than 95 and 100). team context (rightly, IMO) matters here.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • NEbradyomg says:

        err, more*

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jrogers says:

        I think it was either last year or the one before when all Pirates players besides McCutchen combined for negative WAR?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KDL says:

      September games each count for 1 just like all the others.

      That being said, I’m a guy who doesn’t put much stock in the concept of “clutch”…and that’s basically the argument you’re making. I just see an amazing hitter have one of his seemingly inevitable hot streaks at an ideally timed (for him and the team) part of the season.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Justin says:

    Dirks, baby!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Harrison says:

    Also considering Cabrera’s position switch, moving him or Prince to DH full time would have been short sighted considering Victor Martinez will be returning to the DH spot next season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Mike P says:

    There is one issue I have. OPS. If you look at Trout’s OPS, he was Mantle in May and June, and Ruth in July. But in August he has dropped back and in September he has slowed further. Especially at the time his team needs him most as they are fighting just as hard for a post season spot as Detroit.

    In the five months they have been in the league together, Cabrera has a higher OPS in three of the five months. If Trout is the better hitter shouldn’t that be the other way around? This is similar to 2010 when Hamilton won the award based on three months of work and Cabrera had a higher OPS in four of the six months of the season.

    The MVP is pretty much a hitting award. While the 21 extra games give Cabrera some extra counting stats, he has increased his production as the season has progressed and has avoided the two month lows of Trout and Hamilton(who played like Juan Pierre for two months but we still have to hear him in the discussion)

    Trout’s fantastic, but basically played way better than anyone expected so he is the standout star, just like Verlander was last year, so everyone loves him. You can say if Trout had hit cleanup he would have similar counting stats, blah blah blah, but the fact is Cabrera did produce when given the chance. The fact that he is in position to win another batting title given how hard he hits the ball and how slow he is speaks to his superiority as a hitter. If he had two months like Hamilton did, we’d be nowhere near 3 GB of the Sox. He has and is making the biggest difference to his team. That is the meaning of MVP.

    -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • deathsinger says:

      You said:

      In the five months they have been in the league together, Cabrera has a higher OPS in three of the five months. If Trout is the better hitter shouldn’t that be the other way around?

      Let me ask a question.
      Month Team A Team B
      1 15-15 16-14
      2 16-14 17-13
      3 14-16 15-15
      4 15-15 10-20
      5 25-5 15-15
      Total 85-65 73-77

      By your comment, I am wondering if you think Team B is the better team since they were better “three of the five months?”

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jim says:

      if only there were some statistic that was better than OPS for evaluating offensive production…

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • F/X wing pilot says:

      Do you know what website you are on?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • NS says:

      There is one issue I have. Fielding percentage.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. deathsinger says:

    I think there is an error.

    You state
    we see that Cabrera has driven in 31% of his total baserunners, while Trout is at 28%

    The numbers I can find is that Cabrera has driven in 92 of 415 br, or 22%.
    Trout 52 of 274 or 19%.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Oren says:

      Yeah, I think Cameron forgets to take home runs into account. Regardless, his original point still stands – They are very close in terms of getting runners home.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • deathsinger says:

        But they are not:
        “both way above the league average of 15%,”

        So while they are close, and both above average, they are not way above average.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Mark Paquette says:

    What a great argument. Let’s say that Cabrera gets either the triple crown or is very close to it. Does he get the MVP?

    No way. Trout has been the most valuable to his team. Just look at what the Angels have done before and after Trout’s call up. Just imagine where the Angels could of been if Trout did not have a major case of the flu in spring training and lose 20 lbs. They would probably be comfortably in the lead for a wild card spot and/or competing with the Rangers and A’s for the AL West crown

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. guest says:

    Even though Cabrera has 20 more games played than trout, he has just 60 more plate appearances due to Trout hitting leadoff.

    I can’t believe some of the comments on detnews…EVERYBODY there believes that Cabrera should win. I’m a Tigers fan but unlike the 81% of Detroit fans that believe that Cabrera should win, I actually think with my head! :(

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • the fume says:

      It comes down to how you value defense, IMO. I think Miggy’s power advantage is a bit more valuable than Trout’s base-running advantage, which leaves the defensive advantage to Trout. But how much? If you use UZR you’d get laughed at by writers and front office people for opposite reasons. But since we don’t really have anything else to use you have to give that to Trout, and probably the overall award.

      But the reason why Miggy is the best player in the game, IMO, is that he’s seemingly always in the conversation for MVP. Sure, Hamilton or Mauer might hit .360 one year or Trout might take the league by storm for a season but Miggy is always there, always playing, always a force.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • guest says:

        Yeah, he always one of best players. He don’t have one MVP season, but he consistent. Derr. He be best player, then.

        Logic fail. The MVP is awarded to the best player in that *season*!

        -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • the fume says:

        If you’re going to call me out, at least try to comprehend what you read. I said Trout should probably get the reward because he’s had the best season. Which is what the MVP award is about.

        Then, in a separate paragraph to show that the focus was diverging, I said I think Cabrera is the best player because of what he’s done over the past several years. That paragraph did not mention MVP at all so it is your error inferring that it did.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. the fume says:

    “In reality, Cabrera’s switch to third base made room not for Fielder, but for Delmon Young to spend a majority of his time at DH, which freed up an outfield spot for the likes of Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly, Quinton Berry, and Andy Dirks. Had Cabrera been willing to actually take one for the team and DH, those are the guys who would have lost playing time, not Prince Fielder. Does anyone seriously want to argue that the Tigers are better off because Cabrera decided to become a bad defensive third baseman so that that group could get more playing time? ”

    wat?

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. the fume says:

    “Cabrera’s additional playing time has earned him an additional 60 trips to the plate, but in those 60 extra plate appearances, he’s made 54 extra outs.”

    This type of argument is typically intentionally manipulative. A quick extrapolation means he’d make about 18 extra outs over 630+ PA. Because Trout would be expected to make 36 outs himself with those extra at-bats. That’s not insignificant, so I don’t know why you’d have to arbitrarily isolate that to make a point.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sir says:

      Clearly, all of the counting stats were looked at based on their difference b/t the two players totals without adjusting for the difference in PA’s. That was pretty much the point.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • the fume says:

        He could also say “In those 60 extra at-bats Miggy has 64 more total bases, for a SLG of 1.0666, repeating of course.”

        He chose to make one statement and not the other, which is pretty much what you do when you are trying to manipulate without being caught in a factual error.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sir says:

        Actually, he very clearly stated that Miggy had 64 more total bases in his 60 additional PA’s, in the chart he showed with all the other counting stats. Dave then chose to highlight the extra outs, because he thinks (and I agree) that they often go overlooked. The whole point of this article was to look into the more overlooked offensive stats, of which total bases is not one.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • the fume says:

        I’m sorry for not focusing on that one whole line on total bases, I was too busy reading the paragraph on total outs.

        At any rate trying to break things down by focusing on the 60 extra at-bats is pointless. There’s a crap-ton of stats on this website the encompass everything that people can think of. Heck it’s what the website is largely based on. But we don’t build the narrative on that, no we largely dismiss that objectivity and pick relatively obscure data categories and build the narrative on that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • sauv blanc says:

      That’s a good point, fume.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. jesse says:

    A few thoughts on the value of Cabrera switching to third as opposed to going full DH. Cabrera has been worth -8 runs in the field this year, as a DH he would have a position adjustment of about -15, also full time DHing tends to depress offensive ability by I think like 5-10%, so saying that costs another 2-3 runs that means that his playing 3rd over DHing has been worth about 9-10 runs or about 1 full win over replacement, and based on Detroit roster its hard to imagine they would get that out of the options they had to man 3rd with Cabrera in the DH role.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. “in those 60 extra plate appearances, he’s made 54 extra outs”
    What?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • the fume says:

      “Obama beat McCain by 10M votes, but if you assume that it was roughly a dead heat for the first 120M votes, in those 10M extra votes, McCain lost them all.”

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sir says:

      The 21 double plays count for 42 outs.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ballens says:

      Yeah, I don’t get this. By my count, Cabrera has made 370 outs in 636 PAs while Trout has made 345 outs in 576 PAs. That’s only 25 more outs (I’m counting sacrifices as outs). Conversely, Cabrera has been on base 35 more times in 60 extra PAs. I think he’s including the outs from the extra double plays, but that’s only 21 more outs for a total of 46.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Angelsjunky says:

    Nice article. Putting aside who SHOULD win the MVP, as for who WILL win I think it comes down to two things:

    1) If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown (and thus how he finishes)
    2) Whether or not the Tigers or Angels make the postseason

    How Trout finishes is also a factor, but nearly as much as the above two factors. So with those first two factors, we have eight options, with who I think will win the MVP in each instance:

    1) Cabrera wins Triple Crown, Tigers and Angels make postseason: CABRERA
    2) Cabrera wins Triple Crown, Tigers make postseason, Angels don’t: CABRERA
    3) Cabrera wins Triple Crown, Angels make postseason, Tigers don’t: TROUT
    4) Cabrera wins Triple Crown, neither team makes postseason: CABRERA
    5) Cabrera does not win Triple Crown, Tigers and Angels make postseason: TROUT
    6) Cabrera does not win Triple Crown, Tigers make postseason, Angels don’t: CABRERA
    7) Cabrera does not win Triple Crown, Angels make postseason, Tigers don’t: TROUT
    8) Cabrera does not win Triple Crown, neither team makes postseason: TROUT

    Cabrera wins it in half of the instances, Trout in the other half. To put it another way, if Cabrera win the Triple Crown, the only way that Trout wins the MVP is if the Tigers don’t make the postseason and the Angels do, and I would think only then if Trout gets hot over the last two weeks. If Cabrera does NOT win the Triple Crown, the only way he wins the MVP is if the Tigers make the postseason and the Angels don’t.

    +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tim says:

      Great analysis, I imagine your reasoning is how the voters will see it.

      It really is a toss up. Trout DESERVES to win it, based on the arguments Dave made in this post, but a triple crown season is too special to ignore, especially if the Tigers make the postseason.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. stormhit says:

    Yes, the Tigers are much better with those players in the lineup instead of Brandon Inge at 3rd.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Ian R. says:

    I wonder how much of this comes from the writers’ desire to give the MVP to a veteran player rather than a rookie. If Trout was a 29-year-old 10-year veteran and Cabrera was a 20-year-old rookie taking a shot at the Triple Crown, would we still be having this discussion?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ralph says:

      I think if Cabrera does win the MVP without winning the Triple Crown, that’s a big reason. More precisely, Trout will have many more chances to win the MVP. And since Cabrera might never have this good of a hitting season again, the writers might want to recognize greatness now rather than have people say 20 years down the road that Cabrera never won an MVP. It’d be a sort of mid-career lifetime achievement award.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Frank in LAA of A says:

        Good grief, I hope they don’t think this way… looking back on previous seasons or looking forward to unplayed seasons is not what an MVP award should be about.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Everett says:

        And of course, if that’s the way they do look at it, it’d be a travesty. What if, God-forbid, Trout suffers a serious injury next year and is never the same? Or even just goes through the normal regression that comes after a 10ish win season? If he’s the best/most valuable, he deserves to win it this year, regardless of the amount of service time he has.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Rob says:

    Prince Fielder may be batting behind Cabrera, but the 5-9 bats have been consistently awful this year and thus Prince has been intentionally walked more than anybody in the league, leaving fewer opportunities for Miguel to be batted in due to poor batting after Fielder. Trout has a slew of great hitters batting after him that can bring him in consistently, hence raising his opportunities for “runs produced.” Also, you conveniently left out the SO margin between the 2. Trout has struck out 33 more times than Cabrera in far fewer ABs. Finally, Trout has cooled off significantly in the past 2 months, while Cabrera has heat up. Both teams are int he middle of a playoff push and I think it’s safe to say that Cabrera has done far more for the Tigers than Trout has for the Angels. Cabrera has been singlehandedly keeping the Tigers in the playoff conversation because the rest of the team has been nothing more than deadweight.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Frank in LAA of A says:

      “A slew of great hitters?” Alberto Callaspo, Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar, on and off Mark Trumbo, a slumping Pujols (for most of the first half), post-man-in-the-white-shirt Vernon Wells? These are a slew of great hitters?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • asaenz says:

      thats where they miss v-mart

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Jonathan says:

    Whatever. I heard that racist baseball nerds invented WAR because they knew Mike Trout would one day be in an MVP race with Miguel Cabrera and they wanted to make sure Trout would win even though Cabrera is much better. So there.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Nick says:

    I think the fact that Trout is a lock for AL ROY will further help Cabrera’s cause as well, since voters may have the viewpoint that since Trout is already guaranteed that award he won’t be as “shunned” if Cabrera wins MVP.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Matt Borkowski says:

    The only thing I don’t agree with in this article is dismissing two important factors in terms of runs scored:

    1) Number of outs when getting on base. When Trout gets on base, there are often zero outs. Cabrera often has more outs when he gets on base. Thus the other hitters have more opportunities to bring Trout home than Cabrera.

    2) The other hitters in the order. Puljos and Fielder are a good comparison and do cancel eachother out. But if Fielder doesn’t do it, then you a number of poor OPS guys (usually a combination of Young, Peralta, Avila, and Boesch). Trout has Tori Hunter, Trumbo, Morales, and Kendrick).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gary York says:

      Avila has a wRC+ this year of 106, OPS of .743. Lifetime wRC+ of 116. His walk rate is actually slightly up from last year, perhaps due to the bad hitters behind him in the order. The lifetime walk rate of 12.9% is pretty good.

      Overall, I wouldn’t lump him into the same category as Young and Boesch. He’s been pretty good what will likely be seen as a down year for him.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • guest says:

        Yeah, it’s not Avila’s fault for the other guy’s sucking. He’s above average…and he’s a catcher! Delmon has sucked but he’s at least close to replacement level. Boesch has cost the Tigers over a win!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      Dave’s point is that if context is ignored, then Trout’s runs are as valuable as Cabera’s RBI’s.
      Cabrera comes up with more baserunners on (the Tigers 1-3 batters are surely much better than the Angels 7-9), yet most people would point to his RBI superiority as a reason that he is more valuable, even though almost any MLB player would get most of those RBI’s.
      Trout has a similar advantage in having better batters behind him and perhaps in getting on base with fewer outs (though I haven’t seen the latter proven, only assumed).
      You can’t give Cabera credit for context and not give Trout credit for context.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ralph says:

        “You can’t give Cabera credit for context and not give Trout credit for context.”

        Well, you can if you want to take a largely self-evident case and weaken it by making it look like you’re trying to hide something.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ralph says:

        And Baltar, I may have been misreading you there — the “you” I used was referring to Dave’s acting as if Trout’s edge in runs was basically entirely due to Trout’s baserunning.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matt Borkowski says:

        From Baseball Reference (splits for Trout and Cabrera)
        PA with number of outs (# of outs – plate appearances)

        Cabrera:
        0-180
        1-230
        2-226

        Trout:
        1-268
        1-143
        2-165

        Obviously a big difference here.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. mcbrown says:

    The great irony is that the case for Posey over Braun, which BBWAA so desperately wants to make, rests on devaluing the same things that would argue for Cabrera and valuing the same things (other than speed) that would argue for Posey. This will be an amusing awards season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • mcbrown says:

      Edit: I meant valuing the same things (other than speed) that would argue for Trout.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KDL says:

      That’s what makes these annual debates so tiresome, in general. For most people (BBWAA writers included) the process looks like this:

      Step 1: Pick the player you want to win
      Step 2: Concoct an argument (who cares if they are opposed to each other in choosing MVPs in the same season!)

      Cameron (and fangraphs) does a good job of avoiding this pit-fall. ( Iagree there are some odd points made late in the article, but) This is one of the few places you can find people at least trying to pick the best criteria, then using it to pick the best players.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Derek says:

    This artical is stupid and the guy that wrote it must be smoking something. This isn’t even an argument. All you have to do is ignore all the numbers, because you can spin numbers any way you want, and ask yourself one question. If a game is on the line who do you want at the plate? Nobody in their right mind would pick anyone except Miggy. Cabrera is the best player in baseball and people need to deal with that. Trout has had a good year but Miggy is doing it when it counts. Look at the september numbers, both teams in a race, and Miggy has been way more productive. Besides voters, weather it’s right or wrong like to see a guy have a reputation. Trout could be great for years to come our could just be ok and this be a fluke. No doubt about Miggy doing this year after year . I’m sorry but your boy wonder Trout will not win it. Keep the MVP in the D!!

    -22 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • guest says:

      Miggy is clutch, yo. Numbers be wack, son. All that matters is how intense and frightening some guy is. Miguel, my man, he is PHYSICAL. (even though there is rarely any physical contact in baseball) Trout sounds like a sissy name. I would rather have a strong guy be at the plate late in the game.

      +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Alex says:

        Dude, this is a sad attempt at making fun of the original poster. One thing you were actually right about in your sarcastic comment is that Miggy is clutch. And the numbers support that statement. In my opinion, The MVP should be the guy who gets big hits and steps up when the team needs it, and that’s what Cabrera has done. And everyone always talks about where the Angels are without Trout. Well, Without Cabrera, the Tigers have a bottom of the league offense and probably finish the season at .500 or less.

        -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      You haven’t made any argument that is relevant to the MVP vote.
      Sure, you’d rather have Cabrera up when a power hitter is a better choice. I could give you many other situations where you’d rather have Trout up.
      Your argument assumes that getting on base, base-running and defense are all worthless.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • guest says:

        Dude, you do know that I was making fun of the original poster, right? I thought that it was pretty obvious. I actually don’t really even care if my Tigers make the playoffs now. What most worries me is that Cabrera will win instead of Trout, obviously the most deserving player. :(

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Derek says:

        Other than a bunt situation, there is no time Trout would be a better option at the plate. the thing is Miggy us so rare because he’s not just a power hitter, thats why he won the batting title last year and leading it again this year. Miggy isn’t fast but he is a very smart base runner, he does get on base a lot check his on base percentage. And he’s been better at 3rd then most people want to give him credit for.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ineedanap says:

      “If a game is on the line who do you want at the plate? Nobody in their right mind would pick anyone except Miggy.”

      Yeah, but after Miggy gets on base, he’d get lifted for a pinch runner.

      Silver Slugger

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

      You kidding? THat fat ass might have a heart attack on his way to first, i’ll take Trout.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • the fume says:

      What I don’t understand in general is why you have all these advanced metrics like wOBA and runs created that are supposed to take into account everything, only to break it apart and look at specific aspects to make weird comparisons.

      This comparison is far simpler and more encompassing/objective:

      Trout wOBA: .420
      Cabrera wOBA: .420

      Done.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MJSS says:

      All you have to do is ignore all the numbers and look at the September numbers, and Cabrera is the obvious MVP!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Frank in LAA of A says:

      Love Miguel Cabrera’s reputation off the field.

      /MADD

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. Crumpled Stiltskin says:

    What one does with opportunities absolutely should matter. The RBI, the runs, the outs. WAR is a model to measure value, but it isn’t measuring actual value. It’s trying to measure value in a neutral context. Life doesn’t happen in a neutral context. Neither fo thr games we play. How is it less intellectually honest to consider this?

    Of course, everything considered Trout has been the best player.

    But I don’t see why we’re arguing against Cabrera because his front office was too inept to secure a decent corner outfielder. They should be much easier to find than 3b. Cabrera has clearly played 3b well enough to justify the strategy of playing him there, even if he’s been below average in the field.

    It’s not like guys like josh riddick, Matt Joyce (hell, he should even be familiar to the tigers as they’re the team that gave him away), etc . . . haven’t been available the last few years for virtually nothing. What 3b can you say that about? There’s a reason the rangers wouldn’t trade mike Olt even though they arguably have the best 3b in the league over the last three years.

    Cf certainly seems the deeper position, even with all the 3b having good years this year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Herbstr8t says:

    I love Miggy — he has carried my fantasy team this year. That said Trout looks like the MVP. A point Dave didn’t mention, except indirectly with the very long GIDP discussion, is that Trout leads Miggy in WPA by more than a full game even though he played 3 weeks less, and WPA doesn’t count fielding.

    I think it’s close and it could be decided in the remaining games and depend on who makes the playoffs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      WPA is virtually useless for evaluating players.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bradsbeard says:

        It’s very context dependent, but it does paint somewhat of a picture of what the player actually did and how it affected his team. It’s not helpful for projection purposes, but in terms of accomplishments its another thing to consider.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Everett says:

        Useless for valuing players overall, or for predicting future results. But, for giving us a decent picture of “clutchness” it has some value.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Herbstr8t says:

        Seems like if there is ever a place to use WPA it should be in the MVP race. Who is the most valuable player? Seems to me that the value added by a player in terms of ACTUALLY winning REAL games should get a lot of consideration.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. ccoop says:

    some of the baserunning stats you cited seem just as contextual as RBIs. trout 1st to 3rd. trout second to home are dependent on:

    1. hunter or pujols being above average hitters and putting the ball in play
    2. defensive positioning and outfield arm strength

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      Well, that was the point.
      You can’t give Cabrera credit for his context and not give Trout any for his.
      The best solution is to consider the players context-free.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Frank in LAA of A says:

      Is there a first-to-home stat? I doubt Cabrera has done that without someone homering behind him. Bourjos scored on a Kendry Morales bases-clearing SINGLE and I think Trout could do similar.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Matt says:

    Trout has been more valuable but this article is insanely biased. In regards to runs scored, yes Miggy has Prince behind him. Followed by Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch. Sure goes downhill in a hurry. Trout is followed by Hunter, Pujols and Morales. Huge difference.

    The Angels are also much better at baserunning than the Tigers. The runners that Trout is driving in are making it much easier on him. 28% is impressive regardless, but it’s 28% of smart baserunners on a team that is known for small ball and has a philosophy for taking the extra bag. Miggy is driving in much less adept baserunners – 31% of lesser quality baserunners.

    And all of a sudden Miggy wasn’t willing to DH? He is intentionally hurting his team. And who is going to replace him at 3B? And Dirks/Berry are a better option than the options to play 3B in lieu of Miggy.

    Anyways. The point of the article is spot on. The delivery is insanely biased and manipulative.

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ralph says:

      “Anyways. The point of the article is spot on. The delivery is insanely biased and manipulative.”

      Agreed. It’s as if Dave is trying to undermine the case for Trout by making us wonder what other details he conveniently left out.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ralph says:

        And perhaps the more frustrating thing is that it shows he’s just as prone to succumbing to “narrative” as those he likes to rail against, just because Dave thinks his narrative is more accurate.

        Which calls into question how much stock I should put into pretty much any other piece he writes, for fear that he left out key information that maybe isn’t as evident compared to the clear omissions in this article.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • colin says:

        @Ralph

        Everyone has selection bias in some way. Dave’s particular bias is he takes entrenched positions against the common narrative when statistics support his position, which itself is a new narrative. The problem is he entrenches himself early, even when things change. Then, even in cases where his point can be made by making completely unbiased arguments, he still makes biased arguments because he does in fact have a biased position.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TKDC says:

        That’s why I don’t take seriously any baseball articles that are not at least 100,000 words. You need that many to make a complete point.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. Derek says:

    This artical is stupid and the guy that wrote it must be smoking something. This isnt even an argument. All you have to do is ignore all the numbers, because you can spin numbers any way you want, and ask yourself one question. If a game is on the line who do you want at the plate? Nobody in their right mind would pick anyone except Miggy. Cabrera is the best player in baseball and people need to deal with that. Trout has had a good year but Miggy is doing it when it counts. Look at the september numbers, both teams in a race, and Miggy has been way more productive. Besides voters, weather it’s right or wrong like to see a guy have a reputation. Trout could be great for years to come our could just be ok and this be a fluke. No doubt about Miggy doing this year after year . I’m sorry but your boy wonder Trout will not win it. Keep the MVP in the D!!

    -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • rick porcello says:

      i’d rather have a defense containing trout than miggy.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • guest says:

        Hey, a defense with Cabrera’s would be better than one with Prince Fielders. Fielder has even worse speed and a terrible arm. His hands kind of suck, too. Ugh, that would be a NIGHTMARE!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • drewcorb says:

      What about the first 7-8 innings of the game when the game is not on the line? I think those kind of matter too. I wouldn’t mind having Trout play then.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve says:

      “Besides voters, weather it’s right or wrong like to see a guy have a reputation.”

      Sigh, that’s not even a typo.

      You’re correct though, Cabrera just knows how to win. Unlike hitters like Trout, Cabrera knows how to hit to the score. When he’s at bat, he’s clearly just having fun out there. He’s got the gunslinger mentality you want in your starting 3B.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Coal Bear says:

      I agree!!!! I hate numbers!!! They are biased towards reality. Cabrera is the MVP because it FEELS right. That’s what baseball is all about.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. “Does anyone seriously want to argue that the Tigers are better off because Cabrera decided to become a bad defensive third baseman so that that group could get more playing time?”

    Heeps, yes! Dirks and Berry hit much better than say, Brandon Inge, who they could have kept to play third – for the occaisions he was healthy – otherwise you’re looking at Don Kelly. Plus, the hit on defense is 0 if not better with Miggy on third, because Delmon Young is a terrible outfielder.

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. cam hughes says:

    What would Miggy’s WAR value be if he DHed and never played an out in the field this year?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  37. catswithbats says:

    Cabrera didn’t force the Tigers to move him to third base because he refused to DH. I’m pretty sure the Tigers asked him to move to third, and if he said no they wouldn’t have signed Prince. The signing of Prince was contingent on Cabrera’s willingness to move, is how I (and Detroit fans) understand it. Maybe the organization is lying and Cabrera held them hostage. But that’s the story we got.

    Other than that, pretty solid article.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. Jeff says:

    Everyone goes on about how Trout has turned around the Angels since he started in late April, but if I recall, there is a guy named Pujols who was an absolute DISASTER in April. Maybe his turnaround has something to do with the turnaround in LA.
    Fact is, everyone says to not allow Cabrera to beat them and often Cabrera is the guy that beats them. Check out his numbers from the 7th inning on. No one says to not let Trout beat them (sometimes he does). This guy on the Angels is named Pujols.
    MVP => Miguel Cabrera!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. B Harr says:

    My problem with your argument is that you are counting GIDPs and HRs as equal stats. If a guy hits 3 HRs in a game but grounds into a douple play it doesn’t matter.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  40. stan says:

    The case for Miguel for MVP is almost as bad as the case for Edgar for HoF. In fact, I’d think they were the same if Edgar had played a bad 3b for his entire career.

    -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Derek says:

      You are an idiot.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • stan says:

        I can hardly think of a more idiotic reply. I can only assume that you’re irrational about either Miguel or Edgar because the case for both players is really bad.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • KDL says:

        I think the worst you can say is the case for both players is pretty good, even if they are undeserving.

        Are sports fans more prone to seeing everything in black or white…or is this just an unfair (if observed over a lifetime) idea I have?

        Regardless, I suggest reading Chuck Klosterman’s piece “What We Talk About When We Talk About Ralph Samson”…a great put-down of the notion that guys like Samson and Cabrera suck. At their peak they were among the top 5-10 people in the world at what they do. That’s about as far away from being a “really bad” case for the MVP as you can get…even if Trout is the better choice.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. Derek says:

    Cabrera on pace to hit .333 w/208 H, 44 HR and 142 RBI. Last player to reach those numbers was Joe Dimaggio in 1937! Enough said.

    -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  42. The Ronin says:

    Yeah this whole article blows my mind. Instead of some kind of long-winded disertation on runs, rbi, and other context based hubris it could have been summed up like this: “Player A and Player B are roughly equal offensively according to RC+ and wOBA. Player A is a good fielding CF and Player B is a bad fielding 3b. Even though Player B has a slight advantage in playing time and therefore produced a small amount of extra value with the bat the defensive edge still makes Player A the more valuable player this season.”

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  43. Kazinski says:

    I totally agree with the conclusion, but there is one other factor that should go in factored in Cabrerra’s favor, that’s how many times they led off an inning. Trout’s led off an inning 202 times, Cabrerra 97.

    Since MVP voting is very results oriented I think the RE24 stat is a great foundation for looking at MVP. It factors in stolen bases, outs, men on base, the only thing it doesn’t factor offensively is non-SB base running. If you start with RE24, then assume negative BsR players don’t steal bases, and make a cursory attempt to back out SB from BsR, by adjusting BsR to divide +BsR/2 and leave -BsR unadjusted then add in UZR to factor in defense. You get the top 5 position players, plus for context the 24th best player:

    1. Mike Trout 67.19
    2. Ryan Braun 55.49
    3. Buster Posey 53.62
    4. Chase Headley 52.48
    5. Jason Heyward 47.9

    24. Miguel Cabrera 29.87

    Interesting that 4 of the 6 are from the NL, the second highest results rated AL player is:

    9. Edwin Encarnacion 46.36

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David K says:

      I was thinking along the RE24 lines also, but forgetting about any kind of baserunning adjustments for a minute, you get:

      Trout 51.10
      Cabrera 42.76

      So Trout has made more of his opportunities to advance runners, drive in runs, etc. to increase his team’s probability of scoring runs than Cabrera by a significant margin. Then factor in how much Trout contributes to a team’s ability to score runs by his baserunning ability vs. that of Cabrera, and the margin grows further. Then factor in defense, and it should be Trout in a LANDSLIDE.

      I don’t see how anyone can reasonably argue Cabrera over Trout, even if Cabrera wins the Triple Crown and his team manages to make the post-season and Trout’s doesn’t.

      Just based on the stats for this season (since MVP is only based on performance this season), if you had to pick one of these two players to have on your team right now, who would you pick? Trout is far more valuable than Cabrera, no doubt.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  44. Terence says:

    Reading this thread makes me cry. If you believe Miguel Cabrera deserves the MVP over Mike Trout please don’t ever return to this website.

    It’s not that Trout is a good baserunner, he’s the second best baserunner in all of baseball. It’s not that Trout is a good defender, he’s the second best CF in all of baseball. It is hard to play CF. It’s not that Cabrera is a bad 3B, he’s the fourth worst 3B in all of baseball. It is not that hard to play 3B. These are all counting stats. These are runs added over the season. Trout did all of that in spite of having a month less than his competition.

    This is before talking about offense. If we take the offensive contributions, strip out context, adjust for park and league factors we get wRC+. Miguel Cabrera is the second best offense player (including steals not counting baserunning) in all of baseball with a 169. Mike Trout is the best with a 174. The answer to your question is Mike Trout. If you want someone to hit with the game on the line, if you want someone to score a run for you, you want Mike Trout.

    Trout is the Most Valuable Player in baseball and it’s not close.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Calling Trout a better hitter than Cabrera based on wRC+ is incorrect, as wRC+ includes stolen bases and caught stealings. Using OPS+, which ignores SB/CS, shows Miggy as better.

      Why does Fangraphs include SB/CS in wRC+, a stat most view as a pure hitting stat? I have no freakin clue. It should obviously be included with the Baserunning Runs stat.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Terence says:

        I never said hitter, I said offensive player, SB/CS is involved in producing runs. wRC+ measure how well you produce runs (ignoring baserunning on someone else’s BIP). Mike Trout is better at producing runs than Miguel Cabrera this season. If you want someone to score a run, you need them to step into the Batter’s Box first.

        Fangraphs uses wRC+ instead of OPS+ because it values all the aspects of offense. If they used OPS+ to derive hitter value, they would need to add another box to derive SB value or incorporate it into the BsR box. Don’t use wRC+ as a pure hitting stat, use it as a pure offensive stat. If you want to say that Miguel Cabrera is the best “hitter” in all of baseball, but recognize that Mike Trout is more likely to produce runs every time he steps in the batter’s box, go ahead.

        If the Triple Crown had always been Batting Average, Runs Scored, Stolen Bases would they have already given Mike Trout the trophy?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Yea, I agree with you on Trout as MVP. I am just generally annoyed with Fangraphs’ inclusion of SB/CS, which intuitively should belong with BsR, not with wRC+. They should make wRC+ a pure hitting stat and put SB/CS with BsR, and recognize that they combine to form a player’s offensive profile. Why Fangraphs still refuses to do this just baffles me.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jeff says:

      “It’s not that hard to play 3B”

      Really?

      Speechless.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • catswithbats says:

      //If you believe Miguel Cabrera deserves the MVP over Mike Trout please don’t ever return to this website//

      Really? That seems excessive.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  45. magnum says:

    wouldnt most valuable include consideration of performance down the stretch in a playoff race?

    Trout Aug. .284 .366 .778 Sept. .274 .375 .778

    Do those look like MVP numbers?

    Or do these?

    Miggy Aug..357 .429 1.092 Sept..373 .426 1.223

    Take Hrs and RBi out of the equation and It doesnt matter how good Trout is defensively or on the basepaths he cant over come those numbers…

    How you finish has to be taken into consideration and Trouts numbers the last month and a half arent MVP material…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nick says:

      That argument is almost as bad as “well his team made the playoffs and the other guy’s didn’t, so he shouldn’t be MVP”. MVP represents how valuable the player is to his team over the course of an entire season. Games in May count just the same as games in September. I believe the award you’re looking for is “AL Player of the Month.” You could pick any arbitrary stat lines and put up the same argument you did for Cabrera. “Take 50 SB’s, 130+ runs and gold glove CF defense out of the equation and it doesn’t matter how good Cabrera is offensively.”

      Bottom line, Cabrera’s value speed and defense wise is so far removed from Trout’s that the argument shouldn’t even be that close. Trout is on pace for 30/50 season, he isn’t exactly a slouch at the dish. MVP is more than a prize for gaudy offensive numbers, as much as a lot of people want to forget that.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • magnum says:

        Bottom line is that Cabrera’s numbers the last 2 months of the season will blow Trouts away. You cant be just better then average for the last 2 months at the plate down the stretch and over come a remarkable performance by stealing bases and defense…You guys are the sabr guys..how does a player make up for about .200 and maybe close to .400 in OPS the last 2 months let alone the RBI and HR dif by speed and defense?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bob says:

        Trout is a rookie so his Aug/Sep numbers are extremely relevant since that is when teams will be seeing him for the 2nd/3rd time and will have strategies on how to neutralize him. The Tigers are an excellent example. When the two teams first met Trout destroyed them. The second meeting he was a non-factor offensively (1for 12 w/no runs).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  46. magnum says:

    Sorry Trout OPS Aug. .866

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Good point. People often forget about this little known passage from our voting criteria:

      6) If a candidate’s OPS in the month of August is less than or equal to 0.866, voters must disregard said candidates performance in all previous months and award the Most Valuable Player Award to the starting third baseman on 2nd place team in the AL Central Division. If that player also fails to meet the above criteria, the vote shall be awarded to the Truest of all Yankees: Derek Jeter.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • magnum says:

        That all you got?

        And I dispute that games wins in Apri/May/jJune are as valuable as wins in Aug/Sept..You have many more games to make up losses in early in the season… the tigers loss to the White sox on monday was way more detremental to their playoff hopes then the loss to them in June…

        Trout is the best “all around” player in the league but just becuase he is and has more tools then Caberra doesnt make him more “valuable” this game is about runs production not run prevention…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  47. Nick says:

    Jon Morosi is an idiot. I’m sorry, I know it’s en vogue to be civil with people like this, but seriously. I’m not even talking about this Miggy thing, this is only one in a long, long line of dumb things Morosi has said. And they’re not all to do with a lack of knowledge of sabermetric thinking.

    My personal favorite is his annual declaration that the Tigers “could score 1000 runs.”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  48. Babe says:

    Any reason why salaries are not included? We are talking most valuable, right? Without looking I’d say Trout makes 400k while Miggy makes 15 million.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  49. Andrew says:

    Please tell:
    Matt Kemp 2011
    Ben Zobrist 2009
    David Wright 2007
    And everyone in 2006

    That the player with the best season(especially according to WAR) wins the MVP award.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  50. MikeS says:

    …a fantastic defensive center fielder who also happens to be the best baserunner in baseball and who has hit nearly as well as anyone else alive.

    Sounds like the definition of an MVP in any year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  51. Gibby11 says:

    As the many comments above point out, there are many, many ways to dissect the numbers. Some great points have already been made, but there are still many other factors that haven’t been discussed. Consider, for example, that Cabrera has put up amazing offensive numbers while playing half of his games in one of the toughest home run ballparks (ranked 3rd toughest of all ball parks in rankings I’ve seen). If he played in a different park — such as Angel field, ranked as one of the easiest HR parks — he’d have many more HRs and RBIs. In the end it ends up being subjective. In my view Cabrera is clearly the better offensive player and Trout is without doubt the better defensive player. So who should win? I have my own opinion but you can make good arguments both ways. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  52. Richie says:

    Who in the world is Jon Morosi, and why do we care what he said??

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  53. Erik says:

    Why do all the arguments for Cabrera ask the reader to have something excluded? Like, lets throw out all the stats before August, or let’s ignore defense, baserunning, or positional value.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  54. Slats says:

    9th Inning

    Cabrera singles, gets taken out for pinch runner.
    Trout singles, steals second.

    MVP who gets taken out of the game or MVP who takes over the game?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  55. dannyrainge says:

    For all the people who are unsatisfied with the Harper at 19 versus Trout at 19 debates, let’s forgo the relatively arbitrary age distinction in this case and just ask the following question:

    What are their numbers through the first 535 plate appearances (Harper’s career at 19 versus Trout’s 135 plate appearances at age 19 + the first 408 of this season)?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  56. Ben Hall says:

    One thing that’s odd about this article is that if I remember correctly Dave actually made the case for Cabrera about a month ago, and it was based on something he didn’t mention in this piece: leverage. While there’s been plenty of work to show that performance in the clutch is not predictive of future performance, it is still more valuable to have performed in high leverage situations rather than low leverage situations. This year, here are Trout/Cabrera’s wRC+ in different leverage situations:

    Low Leverage: 182/185
    Medium Leverage: 169/139
    High Leverage: 149/229

    Trout has been insane in the least important situations, and very, very good in somewhat important and most important situations. While Cabrera hasn’t been quite as good in those medium situations, he’s been completely off the charts in the most important situations.

    Whether or not that makes him the MVP I’m not sure, but it should certainly be part of the conversation.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • colin says:

      People tend to ignore it because it is not predictive. However, I think you are right that for MVP purposes it really does not matter. If you hit better in the clutch in a particular year, you produced more runs, end of story.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Steven says:

        There’s definitely a debate to be had. It comes down to whether or not something is a skill if it can’t be duplicated in the future. Then, whether or not you should give Cabrera credit for a skill that might not exist.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  57. Eric says:

    while I agree Trout should be the MVP at this point, it seems like Dave always has Trout’s dick in his mouth…..

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  58. colin says:

    I want Miggy to win if for no other reason than he is in his prime and with Trout up, he is unlikely to win the MVP ever again. It would be a crying shame if he never won and it wouldn’t be the first time the BWAA got it wrong.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  59. jcxy says:

    sabr should champion a new triple crown–one that incorporates defense, baserunning, and hitting rather than the old contextual one of avg, hr, rbi…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  60. Tim says:

    Why did Dave conveniently leave out the large difference in K’s (33 more for Trout) in far fewer AB’s?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • philosofool says:

      He didn’t. K’s are a subset of Outs Made, which he included. Since K’s have almost an identical linear weight value to outs, there’s no special reason to count them differently.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tim says:

        I don’t think that’s necessarily true though. Are there statistics for that? It seems to me that a K is the least valuable thing you can do because there is no opportunity to advance runners. Putting the ball in play can at least accomplish that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tim says:

        **least valuable besides GDIP, of course

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  61. Matt says:

    Here’s something to think about… set aside all contract and age differences between Trout and Cabrera. Say they both have one more year on their contracts at league minimum… If it were possible to do so either now or in the off season, should the Tigers trade Cabrera to acquire Trout straight up???? Should the Angels flip Trout for Cabrera?? Given that MVP is supposed to represent the most valuable player to his respective team in a given season, which of the two teams do you think would benefit more from this trade?? (let’s say that both players will repeat their 2012 performances in 2013) I know there are tons of ways to go about answering this but thinking about such a scenario has helped to shed light on the debate for me.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  62. Ryan says:

    Hoped I’d find something less biased than what I thought I’d find here; left disappointed.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steven says:

      Right, I’m sure you came in with absolutely no biases and your lack of bias determined that this article was biased.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • KDL says:

        I don’t know…I came in thinking Trout deserves the MVP, left thinking that, but also feel like the second half of this article was shilling pretty hard on VERY loose arguments…but you’re probably right: No one could possibly think this article makes poor points that make it seem rather biased in Trout’s favor without being the “real” biased lunatic.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  63. Bob says:

    I seem to remember Fielder signing a multi-year contract, not a single year contract. The Tigers already had a full time DH in Victor Martinez who was signed thru 2014, therefore, neither Prince nor Miggy could be put in the DH slot after the 2012 season. The only way that signing Prince made sense was for Cabrera to move to 3B thru 2014, the end of Martinez’s contract. Morosi’s argument is correct, Cabrera made the move, not for vanity or Delmon Young, but to add Prince.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  64. more_cowbell says:

    its a good thing this guy doesnt have trouts nuts in his mouth

    im from anahiem…and i was behind trout in left field…misjudged 2 balls and then made a diving catch and the crowd was going nuts

    and after the 7th inning cabby has better numbers the the choke artist formally known as trout…

    and hes also going out with lance bass

    and looks like a jersey shore TOOL

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  65. Paul says:

    Before I read this, I liked Trout for MVP, as I, like many on this board appreciate the aspects of position, defense, and baserunning to make the complete player.

    The article by the end had nearly convinced me otherwise, by using unfair agruments especially in respect to Miggy moving to 3B (I mean what a wanker he was in agreeing to move to accommodate Prince)

    I don’t hold the fact that he wants to play to field against him, as he must think ahead to a future contract in 3? years – keep playing the field as long as you can

    I also didn’t like the 54 more outs in 60PA argument taking into account the GIDP (Trout as pointed out leads off a lot more);

    I think the overall point could have been stronger by losing some of the more negative agaisnt Miggy – in general, laud Trout for the things he does so well, rather than smack down Miggy for the stuff he doesn’t do well (a lesson many in the HoF arguments for/against should adhere more often to)

    Anyway it breaks down like this:-
    Hitting – Miggy > Trout
    BsR + SB/CS Trout >> Miggy
    Def (position + quality of) Trout >> Miggy

    I don’t think it can be questioned that Miggy is better with the bat, Miggy is not inflated by a insane BABIP (yes Trout will have a high BABIP as he is quick, but such a high rate is not expected due to his K%), has a huge advantage in K% and has more power

    Trout obviosuly does every other aspect of the game much better than Miggy

    And it’s enough for me to beleive that Trout desreves the MVP, but as Miggy’s advantage with the bat is increasing, it may be enough to convince voters otherwise (and then you have the Triple Crown/Playoffs coming into play as well)

    Question
    Taking Miggy’s current DEF/BsR – what would his batting line need to look like to equal Trout’s 9.2WAR?

    - I bet it would need to be something videogameish.

    It just shows how hard it is for a hitter-only type to come high on the WAR leaderboards (not saying that its not how it should be, just that it is impressive when they do manage it)

    Anyway, keep the good stuff on the Award season/HoF coming, its the articles i find most interesting here

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  66. Antonio Bananas says:

    The Triple Crown is basically three picked stats that all only measure one aspect of a player’s game. Trout is likely the best defensive player, the best base runner, and possibly the best offensive player. That’s more of a triple crown that matters to me. There are a multitude of other “Triple Crown” stats you could piece together to be more important. Maybe a guy leading the league in all triple slash categories would be better.

    I just hate how it’s even an argument. There is NO argument unless you want to bury your head in the sand and act like defense and base running don’t matter and that RBIs do.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  67. Alypius says:

    In one of his historical abstracts, Bill James lays out a number of criteria which make players underrated or overrated. These include:

    1. RBIs are overrated, runs are underrated
    2. Players who do more than one thing well are underrated, specialists are overrated
    3. Batting average is overrated, secondary average underrated.
    4. High run contexts make (offensive players, that is) overrated, while low run contexts make them underrated.

    Cabrera, of course, has more RBIs than runs, while Trout has far more runs than RBIs. Cabrera is essentially a batting specialist, whereas Trout’s value is largely amplified by baserunning and defense. Cabrera’s average is, at the moment, slightly higher than Trout’s, while Trout’s secondary average is about .030 higher than Cabrera’s. Finally, Angel Stadium this year has been very pitcher-friendly, while Comerica has been offense-friendly.

    I agree with those who say that Trout should be the clear winner, but it isn’t hard to see why he might not be when you see all the factors working against Trout in terms of popular perception.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  68. Armin says:

    I am enjoying learning more about baseball value and I think you guys make valid points about the nerdy stats all pointing Trout and it feels like such a nice thing to lean on in baseball, stats that is, and with all of these advanced stats out there, it makes us feel safe in saying that one player is better than the other because we feel as though these numbers are unbiased and if we make all of the numbers count the same, no matter when they happen, it gives us the control that we went over the numbers which might have a little bit of error but we feel like if the statistical evidence seems like a wide margin then for sure we can tell that Player A is better than Player B by at least a small margin even if there is some error in our statistics. It is a very LOGICAL way of thinking. But it is also a very close-minded way of thinking and it is caused by our fear of not having something concrete that we can compare two players upon. We wouldn’t be able to Compare player A vs player B every single year based on when they perform their best (june, august, september) or 1st inning, 7th, 9th because we need a control factor and that control factor is every at-bat is worth the same no matter what inning, no matter what game, what month. I see where this LOGIC comes from, and it is definitely based on logic, but it does not even come close to telling the whole story. You guys are saying well this guy produced this many runs in this many at bats, stole so many bases etc so he is worth so and so much. And yes, over a 10 year period, I think that is a fantastic way to compare. However, over a one year season, even though it is 162 games long, it is very short sited. It absolutely does matter if a run comes in the first or the 7th and especially if the game is close and if you are behind at the time. In this day of baseball, relief pitching is outstanding and if you are behind in a game in the 7th and you are an elite hitter, you will be getting a right or left handed specialist that will come in specifically to get you out. These are the situations where leads are rarely relinquished by a good bullpen so yes getting a big hit to come back in a game against a great relief pitcher in the 7th is much more valuable for a team for you to come through in those types of situations than for you to produce a run when you are leading 9-3 and you add a run against the middle relief of the opposing team. Yes it is more valuable to a team going for a playoff spot if a batter is able to light it up in September because rosters expand to more players, leaving the managers more bullpen options therefore more specialists to go after the MVP of your team every night of the week. This is where Trout has struggled mightily and this is where Cabrera has excelled astoundingly. His 7th inning and beyond numbers when the games are close is absolutely off the charts and his finish the last two months to keep the Tigers afloat while no one else couldn’t produce any runs (accounted for %40 of Tigers runs in September so far) is absolutely more valuable than stacking up numbers when everyone on the team is hot and the team is reeling off huge numbers and winning 11-2 every night like the Angels were in July when Pujols, Trumbo and Trout and the others were all lighting it up. However, when they have really needed a run produced during a dry spell, Trout has failed to produce like an average lead off hitter let alone carry the whole team on his back like Miguel has when the Tigers have needed it. Perfect example is when Trout robbed Prince Fielder of a home run in the 9th inning when they were up 6-1 with 2 outs. He made a great play and prevented the game from being 6-2. I’m sure defensive WAR went way up and wow this guys value is amazing. Yes it is and over the long term if he keeps these numbers up, he will be the best player in baseball. However, there’s a reason why it’s not the “Best statistical season award” and it is the MVP award. It’s timing, it’s leadership, it’s WHEN. Based on the statistical arguments made here, it does not matter when a run is scored, no matter the inning, the month or who against. It is based on how much is produced WHENEVER, hoping that production was actually needed at the time by his team. If we are going to go by this logic, then there is no reason to have Wins and Losses for the teams, whoever has the biggest run differential in the majors is automatically the best team because the produced the most and allowed the least. Therefore, the Tampa Bay Rays +102 run differential are a far far far superior team than the Baltimore Orioles that are at a -7. Tampa Bay is almost as good offensively as Baltimore just like Trout is almost as good production wise as Cabrera overall. Tampa however is much better defensively and with pitching therefore they are the much better team, it’s a LANDSLIDE. That’s why you play the games ladies and gentlemen, that’s why sports is so great. It’s not a science. The stats say Trout is having an amazing overall statistical year therefore he has been the most valuable. Well on paper, the Angels as a team look like a far superior team to the A’s on paper and statistically. And over the long term if both teams kept the same players, 9 out of 10, the Angels would have the better record. But THIS year, the A’s were more opportunistic with their production, came up big on offense and defensive when it mattered most in regards to recording a win or a loss. The Angel’s killed teams when they were hot, and had no one to turn to for a big hit when the team was out of sorts. Some big wins, a lot of close losses and they will most likely miss the playoffs. Yes, Trout technically has produced a total X amount of value to his team overall that is higher than anyone else in the league, but he is merely a catalyst that feeds off of a great offense and produces huge numbers when they are on a good streak. Miguel is that for his team when the team is going good AND he is also the guy that they look at when they are out of sorts, down 2-1 with the 8th inning set up man or closer mowing down the whole lineup, they look at Miguel and say it’s on you big fella we got nothing tonight. And Cabrera has come through in these situations, against the best pitchers in the league, at the most opportune times this year, month after month after month until he got to August and just said this race is too tight for my liking, my team is struggling to score runs, Prince is not driving in many runs, the top of the lineup is inconsistent. Hey you know what, for us to win the way we are playing right now, I probably need to hit about .350 with 20 HR’s, 45 Runs and about 55 RBI the rest of the way for us to even have a chance. Anybody else in the league and the Tigers are out of the race by the end of August. He can easily walk more and make his OBP higher. However this team really struggles to get extra base hits and to score runs so he goes at pitches that are out of the strike zone so that his HR’s and RBI’s would be higher because his team needs him to do those things to win. That is what the stats do not show and even the most advanced metrics cannot tell the whole story. That is why there is a vote on the MVP. Not just the player that had the best statistical year, but who had the biggest positive impact on his team’s success because not only of HOW much was produced, but WHEN was it produced and against WHO. Cabrera is the MVP this year not because he is the best all around player but because he has kept the Tigers afloat for a playoff spot even though every offensive player besides Austin Jackson has under performed this year coming into a year that the pressure was sky high for a team destined for the World Series and everyone buckled under it. That’s okay, Cabrera was always there when he had a legitimate chance to swing the game in their favor, pulling the team up to respectable offensive numbers even though Peralta, Boesch, Avila, Young and others have all disappointed. Not just a little bit either. And don’t say it’s because of Prince. Victor Martinez pretty much had the same amount of production as he has had in this down year for him power wise. It’s been Cabrera who has more runs then their speedy lead-off guy, more power than their power guy, and the best average in the AL. Everyone keeps saying how Trout has so many more runs and he does have about 15 more than Cabrera. But he is the lead-off hitter on a powerful offense and Cabrera happens to be #2 in the AL as a slow hitter in the 3rd hole. He does everything this team needs him to do from moving to 3rd base and not making any game costing errors at that position to leading the team in runs over Austin Jackson their speedy lead off hitter to hitting more HR’s than he ever has in an unfriendly HR park (ask Prince Fielder how easy it is to hit HR’s at Comerica, he is used to hitting 40 HR’s a year and he is yet to hit 30) With Delmon, Boesch and Peralta having a huge power drought this year collectively, Cabrera needed to have the extra power numbers and less walks this year for this team to have a chance. It is unfair to anyone to ask them to do the things he has done for the team this year because it means that he did have to go out of the strike zone to get hits, he had to hit .350 plus with RISP and he had to hit .350 plus against the teams best relief pitchers late to turn enough games for them to give them a chance. You cannot ask these things of Trout or anyone else in the league. Cabrera expects this of himself without anyone saying a word. And that is why he is the MVP of 2012. And he is the reason that the Tigers will prevail in the division. And he is the reason that they will have a legit chance to get out of the first round along with Justin Verlander. And even though the White Sox are much more balanced up and down in their lineup, no manager would rather play the Sox in the playoffs because Cabrera just has a way of beating you in a way that defies statistics, and you cannot prepare for him. That inevitable feeling of helplessness that the manager feels when he lets his ace pitch to Cabrera with a base open is why he is the MVP. The most talented on both sides is Trout, and he was great for putting up a show and huge numbers when the Angels were on a roll but when things got tough for them, Trout has been diffused with better information on how to attack him and with the ability to bring in specialists to shut him down. On paper they look like the much better team than the A’s just like Trout looks much better than Cabrera statistically. However, in 2012 Cabrera put up not only huge numbers but the exact numbers that the Tigers needed and at the most crucial times. The logic that is not a “skill” or happens by coincidence is absolutely ridiculous, the logic should be is that for this year, his production was the most meaningful and was the most crucial to his team’s ability to make the playoffs because not only the amount of production, but the timing of the production and the impact the production had in tilting close games to the Tiger’s favor.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Alypius says:

      Armin,

      I agree with some of what you say, and it’s always good to remember that quantification of any kind isn’t Absolute Truth.

      I wanted to reply to one of the points at the end of your post:

      “However, in 2012 Cabrera put up not only huge numbers but the exact numbers that the Tigers needed and at the most crucial times. The logic that is not a “skill” or happens by coincidence is absolutely ridiculous, the logic should be is that for this year, his production was the most meaningful and was the most crucial to his team’s ability to make the playoffs because not only the amount of production, but the timing of the production.”

      I don’t know whether you’re familiar with this already, but people have devised a statistic to measure this. It’s called “win probability added,” and it measures how the player’s achievements in particular situations increased his team’s chances of winning the actual game. Mike Trout actually leads all of baseball in this stat with a 5.46 at the moment, whereas Cabrera is in 10th with a 4.31. So as far as this has been measured, Trout has done the most to increase his team’s winning chances in actual play.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Armin says:

        I appreciate your reply, but that is the exact point I’m trying to make. The Trout argument is all about how things look on PAPER. With all of these amazing stats that he has that do give his team a good chance to win theoretically because he is a good hitter and great base runner and great defensive player. This cannot be debated. He is an amazing talent and if he can play like this over a long period of time it will be truly special to watch it unfold. The thing with the stats for me is when it happens and how much it means to his team. If you look at Trout’s statistics, a couple of things just don’t add up as being the most valuable person to your team. The Angel’s best stretches of the year, wins n losses wise have been at the end of May and September. These have been the worst stretches for Trout which shows that the Angels are a much more balanced team offensively as the Tigers would not have a shot exceeded like this if Miggy had awful stretches like this. Also, another thing that pops out is just the huge numbers Trout has had in absolute blowout games where his production was irrelevant to his teams success, examples being : 3-4 3 runs in Angels 7-2 win over Colorado, 3-5 3 runs, 2RBI in 11-5 vs Col, 4-4 4 Runs in 12-5 win vs SF, 4-6 3 Runs 1 RBI in 13-1 win over Orioles, 2-4 3 runs HR 1 RBI in 11-6 over KC. And if you look at the stats overall, for the most part he kills lesser teams with lesser pitching and racks up his stats like nobody’s business and struggles against good pitching and good fielding teams, therefore usually not being as productive in close, competitive games. Not always of course, he has had some games in June where he was pretty big no doubt. But this to me symbolizes the MVP race for me and it actually happened when Angels came to Detroit for a 4 game series. Trout had an absolute monster game 2, going 4-6 3 runs a HR and 2 RBI. The game was won by the Angels 13-0. He also had a meaningless HR in the fourth game giving him a huge series, 7 hits with 6 runs and 2RBI. Miguel on the other hand, had a steady series getting an RBI and a run with 2 walks in the first game that was 8-6 Detroit, an RBI and 2 runs in game 3, and a HR in the last game to cap off the series. Trout had an amazing series statistically cuz of his 2nd game however Cabrera was steady and Detroit wins the series 3-1. This type of thing is what I think divides the MVP vs the best statistical player. Cabrera, end of June struggled so did the Tigers losing 5 of their last 6 and were losing ground fast in the division race. A lot of players were struggling on the team but as the leader, there is an unquantifiable confidence that the Tigers get when he is producing. Miggy dominates 5 of the next 6 games and they go on a season saving 6 game winning streak including 2 crucial RBI in a game they won by 1, HR and 3 RBI with a walk-off that they won by 2, and a HR and 3 RBI game that they won by 1. Without Miggy the 5 out of 6 losing streak could of easily been something like 9 out of 12 in an absolutely crucial stretch. And in September, it is just ridiculous. While Angels are succeeding with Trout in a huge slump, Cabrera is literally carrying his team on his back. If you look at the game log, pretty much all year but mostly in September, if Miggy had a bad game in Sept, the Tigers lost. From Sept 2 when he did not get a hit (yet he did get a run), the Tigers did not win ONE game when Cabrera did not get a hit until Sept 25. During the stretch between Sept 11 and Sept 23, Cabrera got at least one hit and at least 1 run. This is when the Tigers were not playing particularly well as a team but managed to go 7-4 during this time with games against their rival the White Sox and the very hot Oakland A’s at the time. The run differential during these games was +16 for these games. The difference? Cabrera had 16 runs and 16 RBI with 7 HR. Without his increased production they go 3-8 tops as the team was struggling to score in every game besides 3 all month. I think the stats you mention are definitely a good tool to use to predict or estimate how much value a player would add to a team in the future if he played at that same level. I think therefore it is a good measure of how much value a player has to a franchise. However, I think when you are looking at one year and you are deciding on the Most Valuable Player for the whole year, you have to use more than just stats, use that as a tool to back up what you see and what you feel on the field on the impact of a player on their team. Trout is an amazing speciment but he is not the leader of his team. It goes Pujols, Weaver, Tori Hunter and then Trout. A lot of that is age but still. We have a rookie in Detroit, Garcia, that is modeling directly after Cabrera with being a professional and hitting the other way. Because of Cabrera taking him under his wing, he is hitting over .300 in his first month in the big leagues. You can’t measure that type of impact with stats. Fielder is going the opposite way more often because he sees Cabrera take BP everyday and realizes he has to step his game up. He is going to hit .300 for the first time in his career. The Angels have had 40 more runs scored in a harder to hit ballpark and have +30 higher run differential than the Tigers this year. How about that stat, of how much more Cabrera’s production means to the Tigers than Trout’s does to the Angels? The Angels do not struggle to score runs, with or without Trout for the most part, he is just the cherry on top for that team. Their pitching has been their downfall, they can get their offense from many different players. For Detroit it all starts and ends with #24. For the Angels it started when Trout was struggling, they did great when everyone was on fire and then they have been doing it without him in the last 2 months. Defensively is the only thing that Trout really just has over the top on Cabrera but if you have ACTUALLY watched Cabrera play this year and not just have plugged his fielding numbers into a computer equation, he has played very respectably, on one foot for the last month nevertheless, and in big spots, he has actually made big plays, not big errors like most want to believe. Like a couple of days ago he stole a single/double with 2 on that saved or 1 or 2 runs in a game that ended 2-0. He hasn’t been perfect but WAR does not take in account the situation of the game. An error made that leads to a single in the 6th of a game that is out of reach may make the WAR go down as it should (because it should be a good predictor of future success, not necessarily the ultimate determinant of how many games the player was actually worth this season to his team). I’d say it could go either way with the voting this year (Miggy does finish 2nd every time anyway I guess) but I feel like if the voters do not try to calculate Trout into 1st place with every equation under the sun and look at what they see on the field, the respect the other players and managers have for Miggy, and how much he has done to carry an underachieving offense to barely get into the playoffs, I think he should get it. When he is the player of the month in August and is about to be player of the month in September, and his team is barely staying afloat offensively, winning just enough games to make a push for the playoffs, you have to realize how much he means to this team that can be seriously offensively challenged at times. They needed every hit every run every HR and every ounce of his production and leadership to be in the position they are right now with a chance to win a division when more than half the team is having an off year with several batters struggling to half their production from last year along with the bullpen not being nearly as effective. WAR will say that Cabrera could add an average of 7 wins per year for his team playing the way he has this year. (Which makes sense with all of those advanced statistics but this is an AVG and an ESTIMATE of how much a player SHOULD be worth to any team in any given year pretty much) Well there could be an argument that THIS YEAR, Cabrera has been worth 8 games for the Tigers in August and September alone.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  69. vtiger says:

    Suppose a player bats 4-4 in a game and drives in 4 runs on a 16-0 game, later goes 8-0 in 2 games with 6 SO. Other player goes 4-1 in 4 games with the winning rbi in each 4! WAR shows it?
    I don’t know anything about WAR, but in last 2 games Trout has been 0% offensively ( 7-0 4 SO ) and I did’nt see him doing plays to contribute to his team winnings or running bases. So I said to myself his WAR must be going down.. lets see how much.. and it’s equal! how it is calculated? At the the same days Cabrera made some good outs, drove in 2 go-ahead runs and did not see any variation.. I understand defense can be measured and valued, but how much? it’s about plays that ‘might’ occur? at least traditional stats shows what is happening.. somebody explain please..! PS: where can be found a last-30 days war stat? We always see ‘the MVP of the game’ for example, and it is given to the man who contributed the most for the victory, not the best stat player in the field. Something seems wrong here. We need to see the games, the situations and then decide who is the mvp for his team.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  70. Jason says:

    LOL at DET fans who talk about Miggy’s “clutch” play saving the day in September… It appears as though DET will indeed make the playoffs. However, the ONLY reason this team is making the playoffs is because they play in the worst division in baseball and play a third of their games against KC, CLE, and MIN – as opposed to LAA having a third of their games against TEX, SEA, and OAK.

    Tigers fans, you do realize that if DET played in the AL West like Trout and the LAA (a team that has a better record, btw), there is zero chance that you would be making the playoffs, correct? So, essentially, one of your main arguments for Miggy’s MVP case is that he happened to have inferior competition in his division, correct? That’s a pretty weak argument in my opinion, and one only advanced by those grasping at straws.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  71. Alypius says:

    Armin,

    I truly appreciate what you’re saying, but it doesn’t sound like you understood the point of my previous post.

    You wrote: “another thing that pops out is just the huge numbers Trout has had in absolute blowout games where his production was irrelevant to his teams success.”

    And then you said,” He hasn’t been perfect but WAR does not take in account the situation of the game. An error made that leads to a single in the 6th of a game that is out of reach may make the WAR go down as it should (because it should be a good predictor of future success, not necessarily the ultimate determinant of how many games the player was actually worth this season to his team).”

    My whole point was that there is a completely separate statistic, Win Probability Added, which has nothing all to do with WAR, and is all about taking into account the situations in the game and how much the plays made *in particular situations* help the team to win particular games. So, for example, if Trout gets a hit in the 9th inning of a 10 run blowout, it will do practically nothing for his Win Probability Added. It is a situational stat, designed to measure not only what plays were made but what the impact of those plays were. It weights them for how much they improved game winning chances. If what you are saying about Cabrera is correct, he should be a clear leader over Trout in Win Probability Added (again, not WAR, which is different), but Trout has a very large lead on him. This tells us that Trout’s good plays have accumulated more game winning value than Cabrera’s have.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  72. Anthony G says:

    Trout has a 10.7 War…if he finishes with a 10.8…he averaged 2.2 a month….if he played the first month that means he could have had a 13 WAR you know where that ranks him all time in baseball history….2nd behind only Babe Ruth with a 13.7….and babe ruth was in his prime at 28….If this is not trout’s prime…im scared to say you may have found the best player ever if he doesnt get injured…and i still think Griffey Jr is the best cause of the time he missed and numbers he put up and no steriod allegations….Arod could have but the steriod allegation will hurt him cause hes not far from the leaders in history in his stats…but if i was a manager i would want trout because lets say the angels were facing the tigers in the playoffs in the ALCS….and trout leads off…i would tell him steal a base….or i would set a hit a run and he would score in a second…then cabrera would come up and i would tell trout before he goes out to Center field….hey when cabrera gets up make sure if he tries to hit a double….to dive…and if he tries to hit a hr…rob it….if i was the manager with cabrera….i would just say go hit…cause you aint stealing nothing

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  73. shane says:

    Would you take Trout to be on your team than Caberra?
    Your stats do say something but you also dont consider other meaningful stats. Like 40% of the Tigers runs sense August have been due to Cabby slugged in or him corssing the plate. Last two months of the season Trout has not hit over the .300 mark and even with runs considered sense he is a leadoff hitter and Cabby a clean up hitter, Cabby leads in Runs. At batting AVG. in the 7th inning or later Trout has not been a factor while Cabby is almost batting .400.

    My point is stats can be used in anyway to support eithee one. Ask a Politican or a tobacco company if they can play with stats to make an srguement for their cause.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  74. Anthony G says:

    Also theres another reason why alot of people put jeter as a better player then cano…not because of stats but becasue of his will to win to not make excuses…cano may be 2nd in war…but people will end up saying when the team needed them jeter was there playing through injury and having a hitting streak through it all…while cano was slumping having his average dip under .300…yes now cano is the hottest hitter on the team but he said it himself early in mid septemeber…that jeter has been the most consistant…and yes cabrera has been the most consistant and so has trout….but my point is i see alot of fight in trout…and he only saw a lil time in the majors before this season….cabrera is in his prime…man hes always been in his prime really…but i think the league is alot watered down then previous years…ichiro could have stoped cabrera from getting the crown if he didnt have a slump year. in average while with seattle..hes always posting crazy numbers…hamiton and pujols for some reason aint the same either…yes pujols was in the nl so that doesnt matter but my point is certain players have ruined a shot at a triple crown for players over the last 40 plus years…and now no one is around to stop it…you have hamilton who is not the same hitter as before even though he almost as many hrs….you had granderson have the hihest rbi last year with 119…and cabrera with 105..thats horrible for a clean up hitter…granderson never batted cleanup…and before arod in07 with 156 rbis…the league was cranking rbis left and right…david ortiz manny….tejada…the lowest was 137 from ortiz…oh yeh and wat about Encarnacion he has 42 and now his injured…no bautista who led the league the last 2 years…maybe im just delusional…but i think trout is mvp as a rookie just like ichiro was in 01…inchiro hidnt lead in rbis hrs…yes he led in average with … .350but ichiro is a great field steals the bases is just a smart great player…even today even though hes older….mvp…is all around best player…cabrera wasnt the best first baseman or 3rd baseman in baseball in defense…only offense…but you what hes never won an mvp so lets just give it too him…trout will eventually get one

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  75. WY says:

    Incredibly well argued, Mr. Cameron. It’s too bad that few of the people who consider Cabrera the “obvious” choice are unwilling to even think about approaching this debate objectively.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  76. Merlin says:

    IF the MVP were about the best player it would be Trout. But It’s not about the best player, it’s about the player who was most valuable to his team this year. Replacing Trout with Bourjos (not a AAA player because that wouldn’t happen) is a net loss 5.8 WAR for the Angels. Replacing Cabrera with any infielder on the Tigers roster results in a loss of 7.1 WAR since they have no infielder with a positive WAR value. The Tigers are not champions without Cabrera. The Angels are still in third without Trout. Cabrera was the most valuable player to his team – a team that achieved it’s goal of winning the central division – and therefore the league MVP. If Trout had maintained his numbers in the second half the Angels would have won the west and he would be the MVP. He didn’t, they didn’t, Cabrera is MVP

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  77. Chris says:

    When did the MVP become a purely offensive statistic? Just asking . . . not saying that hitting is a good part of playing the game, but shouldn’t defense come into the equation, too? I bring this up primarily because in the NL, Yadier Molina should win, even though his offensive stats aren’t as good as Posey’s, but it still applies in the AL. Anybody want to talk about the defense of Cabrera or Trout?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  78. Jason Kates says:

    Can we get this article refreshed with full season stats now that game 162 is in the books? I think it’d be neat to see.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  79. Jack Field says:

    I didn’t realize that Ellsworth Toohey became a sportswriter…

    Very nice.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  80. Ed says:

    I know that the majority of people will consider this post completely irrelevant and they’re probably right. I’ve read all of the previous posts, most of which present very intelligent arguments to support their opinion. I’m just an old guy with a gripe.
    If Miguel Cabrera played for a team other than the Tigers, do you think it would influence opinions/evaluations of him in any way? Everyone knows that the Tigers will never be considered one of the greats in the history of baseball. They have, however, had some shining moments, talented players, and great seasons that should have earned them at least some small measure of respect. But if you’ve ever objectively listened to a national broadcast of one of their games, it’s hard to deny that they are rarely given any. Also, it seems to me that there have been many instances this season where the sportscasters so blatantly favor the other team that I have to shut the game off to avoid the overwhelming temptation to throw the remote at the television. Has anyone else noticed this or do I just need a hearing test?
    I agree with the posts that say winning the triple crown shouldn’t automatically make a player the MVP. But given the fact that it hasn’t been done since 1967, it seems to me that it is a notable achievement. I can remember when Carl Yastrzemski won it. Even if you weren’t a Red Sox fan, it was a big deal to all of the baseball fans I knew. We sure chewed a lot of crummy bubble gum hoping to get one of his baseball cards. I also remember how much media coverage it received. But Cabrera wins it and barely generates any media coverage of note. Oh wait, my mistake, I did hear about him being the first Hispanic player to win it. No disrespect intended here, but is Carl Yastrzemski Polish? Gosh, I really have no idea. I don’t recall any mention of it in the media back then. And we could have cared less, what difference did it make? In our eyes he was just a great ball player. One of those players that makes it hard not to love the game of baseball.
    If Cabrera isn’t voted MVP, I hope he’ll at least be given more respect from the media than they’ve shown him so far. Maybe it’s time to let the players and managers have a vote or play some role in the process.
    Can’t make everyone happy, but any thoughts on giving Trout Rookie of the Year and Cabrera MVP so both are given recognition for the seasons they’ve had?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>