Mike Trout on WAR

You won’t get Mike Trout to say he should win the Most Valuable Player award this year because his Wins Above Replacement total is higher than another player’s. But if you listen closely to him describing his game, you will hear the basic constructs for the argument that can be made in his favor. It’s a simple one.

Ask Mike Trout about the MVP award, as I did before Tuesday night’s game against the Athletics, and he shrugs: “It would be nice to have an MVP, but it’s just the way people look at it. For me, I take pride in my defense and baserunning, just trying to put pressure on their defense, either running that extra base or trying to cut down that ball in the gap.” By baserunning runs above average — a stat that includes stolen bases but also measures a player’s ability to take the extra base — Trout is fourth in the league this season. He’s one of four players in the top thirty in BsR that pairs that speed with real power, too.

It becomes a refrain. Offense is great, baserunning is big for the Angels’ outfielder, “but defense is even bigger.” Mike Trout is the fourth-best left fielder by UZR/150. Even with the numbers not liking his defense in as much this season, he adds value with his glove.

For a player that keeps the balls from the home runs he’s stolen, outfield defense is obviously important to him. Maybe the bad numbers in center are just a one-year blip — he doesn’t prepare any differently (“Just take some reps in left, some reps in center”) and it’s the position that he plays in his heart. “You get to run the outfield, you get priority over everybody,” he says, “center field is different… I like it more.” His work there last season was so superlative that he’s still the fifth-best qualified defensive center fielder in baseball since the start of 2012.

When Mike Trout gets in trouble, he gets a little pull happy. But even though pulling the ball can lead to more power, he’s not going to bite. “No, I’m not trying to change my approach, I’m going to stay up the middle.” Trout is fourth in baseball in combined pull plus opposite field percentage. Only Chris Davis has hit more home runs to center field (15 to his 14), which may not be surprising given Trout’s home runs the last two nights. Trout’s power doesn’t suffer much overall anyway — he’s got the 11th-best isolated power in the game this season — but going to all fields is how he does business.

That sort of approach (“Just trying to get line drives”) leads to a great batting average on balls in play if you follow the Joey Votto Theory of Baseball. So Mike Trout leads baseball, and second place Votto, with a .384 BABIP since the beginning of last season. He’s second in baseball in BABIP this year. That, along with the third-best walk rate in baseball this season, gives Trout the second-best on-base percentage in the game.

If you ask the player about the WAR or the MVP, you won’t get too far. But his philosophy about the game is clear: “I just go out there and take pride in my game and have some fun, do everything I can to help the team win.” It just so happens that when you take the sum of all those different parts, that sum looks like the most impressive in the game.



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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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FeslenR
Guest
FeslenR
2 years 10 months ago

Mike Trout should win it, but….insert proper description here about those who vote for the awards.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 10 months ago

To be fair, a non-awful case can be made for Cabrera this year.

ReuschelCakes
Guest
ReuschelCakes
2 years 10 months ago

1. There is a higher repeat hurdle for MVP; especially where there are viable alternatives
2. No Triple Crown
3. Vote-sharing with KKKrush Davis
4. Trout’s oWAR spread to Cabrera is higher in 2013
5. Trout is moving up the 3 triple crown categories on a relative basis

I think there is a compelling argument to be made that Trout wins in 2013.

yolo
Guest
yolo
2 years 10 months ago

the “KKKrush Davis” thing is confusing as hell and i don’t get if i should be offended or not

thirteenthirteen
Guest
thirteenthirteen
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t get it either, but why would YOU be offended? Are you Chris Davis?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Well, thirteenthirteen, you may not be familiar with the acronym “KKK,” but quite a few of us are.

Sn0wman
Member
Sn0wman
2 years 10 months ago

I’m going to guess that was meant to refer to strikeouts rather than the KKK. I’d hope so, anyway.

thirteenthirteen
Guest
thirteenthirteen
2 years 10 months ago

Um, yeah, I know what the KKK is, super smarty pants. I just don’t see why you should be offended that someone else is implicated that Chris Davis is a racist. It’s an accusation against Chris Davis, not you.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

It’s not a reference to Chris Davis being a racist, it’s just a poorly thought out reference to Ks.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 10 months ago

But back to your original point:

“I think there is a compelling argument to be made that Trout wins in 2013.”

No. A compelling case that he *should* win? Absolutely. But that “Trout wins”? Zero chance. 0.0000000000%. I will be glad to wager any amount that you’re comfortable with.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

They are going to instead choose to, quite reasonably, recognize the best untainted offensive performance of the last 20 years?

(Barry Bonds’ 1992 season was 21 years ago)

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
2 years 10 months ago

heh, I was going to say Albert Pujols says hi, but he’s even having a better season than any Pujols season. Wow. He’s only very marginally ahead of Pujols’ 2003 and 2008 seasons though.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Marginally ahead by wOBA. He’s well ahead by wRC+.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 10 months ago

I agree with your point (that Cabrera will win, and quite reasonably so) but I would be really careful trying to say definitively who is or is not clean. It’s a fool’s errand.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

I’m not saying that he’s clean, just that he hasn’t been tainted.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 10 months ago

Cabrera has had 618 plate appearanes with a .347/.443/.653 slash and .461 wOBA and 195 wRC+.

In 1994, in 517 plate appearances, Frank Thomas had a .353/.487/.729 slash for a .499 wOBA and a wRC+ of 205.

Perhaps you don’t consider that a full season since it was only 113 games, but it was enough plate appearances for me to gauge the season. Also, as the most outspoken critic of steroids in his time, I am willing to consider his season “untainted.”

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

I guess I missed that one because I set it to 600+ appearances.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Unfortunately Fangraphs doesn’t have partial season wRC+ values, but seeing as how his first half line of .365/.458/.674 comes out to a 206 wRC+, I think his line of .359/.452/.678 after 113 games would be a 204 or a 205.

bdhudson
Member
Member
bdhudson
2 years 10 months ago

Awesome, thanks again Eno

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

I love Angel’s scout Greg Morhart’s initial report on Trout, when he was 17: “Best athlete. Best player in the world—period. Best player on the planet.”

Angelsjunky
Guest
Angelsjunky
2 years 10 months ago

Wasn’t he the one who compared him to Mickey Mantle, saying “I wonder if this is what a young Mantle looked like?”

Anyhow, I realize Bourjos is a better (if only slightly) center fielder, but I think the Angels need to give the job to Trout – they don’t need to give him another reason to put off signing a contract extension. Give him a lot of money and let him play CF, at least for the next six or seven years or so. He can spend his 30s in LF, but for now let him play where he wants while his wheels are still good.

That Guy
Guest
That Guy
2 years 10 months ago

I think the Angels are doing the smart thing – as long as Bourjos can handle CF (even if he’s not actually better, persay), play him there to increase his own trade value, then spin him when they can and then shift Trout back to CF.

TheUncool
Guest
TheUncool
2 years 10 months ago

That would make sense if they actually plan on dealing Bourjos soon-ish. But are they really trying to deal him?

Cody
Guest
Cody
2 years 10 months ago

Does anyone else wish Mike Trout would refer to Mike Trout as Ricky Henderson referred to Ricky Henderson? “Mike Trout is the greatest of all time.”, Mike Trout. I’d love to see that quote.

Erik
Guest
Erik
2 years 10 months ago

It feels unnatural to refer to him as “Mike” or “Trout.” It’s a package deal. Mike Trout.

I have been known to explain his greatness via the reflexive property: “Mike Trout is Mike Trout.”

White Blood Cells
Guest
White Blood Cells
2 years 10 months ago

It’s almost a “Steve Holt”-esque exclamation.

Mike Trout!

Ozzy
Guest
Ozzy
2 years 10 months ago

Or Mike Ehrmantraut

Bryz
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Since you asked.

BJ Upton
Guest
BJ Upton
2 years 10 months ago

Or Rick James.

David
Guest
David
2 years 10 months ago

I kinda wish he’d refer to himself as Ricky Henderson…

CubsOfTheNorth
Guest
CubsOfTheNorth
2 years 10 months ago

For the last time…the MVP is not the WAR Award.

jesse
Guest
jesse
2 years 10 months ago

That’s true, but its also not the most home runs or triple crown winner award either… And the trout/MVP thing only drives me nuts because I can’t figure out when defense and base running became new fangled sabr things?

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 10 months ago

When people were able to start quantifying their value.

Dave k
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Dave k
2 years 10 months ago

When did we start being able to reliably measure single season defense? Did I miss something?

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 10 months ago

The stats today are significantly more reliable than what was used in the 80’s.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Having stats that are “significantly more reliable than what we used in the 80s” is a far, far cry from being able to reliably measure single season defense.

TheUncool
Guest
TheUncool
2 years 10 months ago

Honestly, when the comparison is MCab vs Trout, who needs reliable measures for D anyway?

IF their offensive production are remotely close at all, Trout’s utter superiority in D (and baserunning) over MCab should make it a no-brainer — their diff easily passes the eye test afterall. It’s not like Cabrera actually plays a respectable 3B afterall.

The only thing the keeps Trout from winning is the voters don’t like that he plays for a non-contender. That’s really the only strike they have against him. Period.

astrostl
Member
astrostl
2 years 10 months ago

“When did we start being able to reliably measure single season defense? Did I miss something?”

While reliably measuring defense at all is still a subject of intrigue, there can’t really be a question that what the defensive metrics do measure were, in fact, measured – that what happened in the year, happened in the year.

The multi-year thing generally applies to broader assessments of true defensive talent levels. If someone hits a HR in their first two MLB ABs, that doesn’t necessarily indicate that their true talent level is hitting a HR in every AB. But the “HR” counting stat did reliably measure *what happened*: they hit two home runs. Even if the wind carried it, and then it bounced of of Mike Trout’s glove.

commenter #1
Guest
commenter #1
2 years 10 months ago

god, if only it were the last time

Blasphemous
Guest
Blasphemous
2 years 10 months ago

I’m an NL guy, don’t much follow the AL so I haven’t been keeping up with the performances there outside of perhaps one Miguel Cabrera (who could miss what he’s doing this year?). So I had to take a look at Mr. Trout’s number. Holy Moley! .437 OBP? 180 wRC+?? That’s Bonds in his prime with more speed to run and play ‘d’. I hope he can keep this up, he’ll be one of the very best ever if he can do it for another 10 years..

Blasphemous but incorrect
Guest
Blasphemous but incorrect
2 years 10 months ago

Mike Trout is super-duper awesome, but .437 OBP and 180 wRC+ is *not* Bonds in his prime, and it’s not really close:

2001: .515 OBP, 235 wRC+
2002: .582 OBP, 244 wRC+
2003: .529 OBP, 212 wRC+
2004: .609 OBP, 233 wRC+

James
Guest
James
2 years 10 months ago

SSS for sure, but Trout’s 55 game second half has been .502 OBP 202 wRC+. Just looked at that today and was surprised.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 10 months ago

So even if you take a SSS of Trout’s best part of the year, he’s still below any of the #’s reference right above your post.

szielinski
Member
Member
szielinski
2 years 10 months ago

Bonds was the Brother from another Planet during is second prime. Trout will not draw as many walks as Bonds unless, of course, opposing managers believe Trout stands a better than even chance of hitting a home run whenever the ball crosses the home plate area in the strike zone.

Eric Palmer
Guest
Eric Palmer
2 years 10 months ago

Doubt opposing managers would really IBB him anyway unless there was a runner on 1st/2nd already, because with his wheels an IBB would often turn into an intentional double.

Babe Ruth
Guest
Babe Ruth
2 years 10 months ago

I was Barry Bonds in his Prime.

Al Dimond
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Actually, first-peak Bonds is a great comp for current Trout. Bonds’ OBP first cracked .400 in 1990 (age 25 season), and never looked back; his baserunning and defense declined noticeably after 1998, in 1999 he was injured and in 2000 he hadn’t hit his outrageous second-peak stride yet, so let’s call 1990-1998 his “first peak”.

Between 1990 and 1998 Bonds’ OBP? .438. His wRC+? 173. That’s really close to Trout. He was putting up 12.4 fielding runs per year (I think with a similar positional mix to Trout), and almost 3 BsR runs, which Trout has blown away so far. First-prime Bonds hit for more power and had those ludicrous K/BB numbers, while young Trout has a big advantage in BABIP giving him a higher average and pulling OBP even. Young Trout is doing this in an era of historically high strikeout rates and probably a lower-power era than Bonds (?) so his overall numbers are better.

Both players have birthdays shortly after mid-season, so their “season ages” mean essentially the same thing. We’re comparing Trout’s age 20 and 21 seasons with Bonds’ 25-33 seasons, a traditional hitter’s peak. Bonds may have been the best ever at developing a hitting approach to take advantage of his physical tools and skills (in both of his peaks). Trout’s tools and skills are a little different, and his approach is different — if he pulled it like Bonds would he trade off BABIP for power in exactly the same way? It’s impossible to say.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

You can’t compare their baserunning totals directly, as UBR data doesn’t exist before 2002.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron
2 years 10 months ago

Age-wise, Barry Bonds played for Arizona State when Trout had numbers that aren’t quite as good as first prime Bonds.

Blasphemous
Guest
Blasphemous
2 years 10 months ago

Well, to be fair I meant his real prime (1993-1999) and not his cream-and-clear chemically altered second prime of which you speak..

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 10 months ago

To be fair, that needs to be explicitly stated because comparing someone to Bonds’ prime is almost always a reference to the early 2000’s.

drohan
Member
drohan
2 years 10 months ago

By starting in 1993 you leave out two MVPs and one should’ve-been-MVP.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

Jesus.

Jaack
Guest
Jaack
2 years 10 months ago

Bonds was a better hitter…

Craig H
Guest
Craig H
2 years 10 months ago

I was hoping Trout was going to say WAR talk gives him headaches and that he would rather be on a winning team going to the playoffs.

TheUncool
Guest
TheUncool
2 years 10 months ago

Hahaha…

bookbook
Guest
bookbook
2 years 10 months ago

Cut Mike Trout in thirds and you have three MVP winners.

Iron
Guest
Iron
2 years 10 months ago

*wipes bloody saw on lab-apron*

That didn’t work nearly as well as promised.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 10 months ago

Dexter is really pulling out all the stops in its last season…

King Solomon
Guest
King Solomon
2 years 10 months ago

Even I wouldn’t suggest this.

You clearly are not an Angels fan.

bookbook
Guest
bookbook
2 years 10 months ago

Mariners fan. But that’s not what I meant. Really.

Billy
Guest
Billy
2 years 10 months ago

Mike Trout is so dreamy…

*sigh*

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 10 months ago

I didn’t realize until I just took a poke around that Mike Trout has put up more fWAR in each of his first two seasons than A-Rod or Pujols has in any season of their careers.

toleterito
Member
toleterito
2 years 10 months ago

Next year, Trout will likely surpass every relief pitcher in history, save Mariano Rivera, in career WAR.

toleterito
Member
toleterito
2 years 10 months ago

And he’s nearly halfway to Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett’s total.

Ben
Guest
Ben
2 years 10 months ago

Other than the name, pitchers’ WAR and position players’ WAR have nothing in common and cannot be accurately compared.

toleterito
Member
toleterito
2 years 10 months ago

“Other than the name, pitchers’ WAR and position players’ WAR have nothing in common and cannot be accurately compared.”

The whole point of WAR is to enable these types of comparisons. A run saved is a run earned. Do your research bro.

DavidCEisen
Guest
DavidCEisen
2 years 10 months ago

That makes no sense whatsoever, of course they can be compared and have lots in common. Pitchers WAR and position player WAR both describe the amount of wins a player contributes above a replacement player. Teams tend to spend about the same amount of money for a pitching win as a position player win, so obviously they are comparable.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

Jesus.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

Jesus.

bilbovibrator
Guest
bilbovibrator
2 years 10 months ago

he plays on a shit team please let this argument die.

hipeter1987
Guest
hipeter1987
2 years 10 months ago

And that is relevant how?

(Not that) James
Guest
(Not that) James
2 years 10 months ago

Stupid Mike Trout. Why doesn’t he just play on a winning team? A real MVP would know that he doesn’t have to play on the team that holds his contract rights. “Laws” and “contractual obligations” are for LVPs.

LeBron James
Guest
LeBron James
2 years 10 months ago

How many times has he missed the playoffs?

Not one, not two,…..

Aaron
Guest
Aaron
2 years 10 months ago

This time will be two times Labia James.

fred
Guest
fred
2 years 10 months ago

I honestly think if you get rid of the downvote feature, you get rid of a lot of this obvious “look at me I’m pretending to be a Yahoo user, everyone flame me” horseshit. All it does is give a bunch of cringeworthy Internet comedians a big red bullseye to aim their nerdy sarcasm at.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

The downvote feature is the reason I read the comments.

Blasphemous
Guest
Blasphemous
2 years 10 months ago

Another nice player comp for Trout, in that he’s a high walk, high BABIP, relatively low strikeout speed outfielder with pop is Andrew McCutchen. Cutch’s stats don’t quite measure up to Trout’s over the last two years but he’s built his swing and his game in much the same way.

tz
Guest
tz
2 years 10 months ago

Totally agree. Cutch compares to Trout the way Raines compared to Ricky. Doesn’t match him any less awesome, just shows how exceptional Trout is.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

I’d actually say that Trout has built his swing and his game much the same way as McCutchen. He’s just even faster and has even more power.

John M
Guest
John M
2 years 10 months ago

In Dave Cameron’s chat today, he referred to the BBWAA as “made up almost entirely of like minded 50+ white guys,” in talking about how they have all made up their minds about what’s important to them for the MVP vote and that’s why Cabrera will win.

I get the age part as older people seem likelier to rely on traditional stats and are less less likely to embraced advanced metrics. But his inclusion of them being “white guys” – does race have anything to do with how somebody might vote? If they were 50+ black guys would they be likelier to vote for Trout? I didn’t get why that was important to how they’d vote.

tz
Guest
tz
2 years 10 months ago

I’m a white guy almost 50 years old. I live on the new metrics, am teaching myself C++, and have crowdsurfed in every decade of the new millenium.

Bottom line, I hate any kind of stereotypes. Which is why I embrace players with 80+ MPH knucklers, or who steal tons of bases in their later years (see Davey Lopes), or islands where everyone speaks four languages and don’t get beat up because their name is Fifi.

That Guy
Guest
That Guy
2 years 10 months ago

Odd. Usually when I think of pinning the motives to a group’s race, I would think they’d act in favor of that race.

Bubba
Guest
Bubba
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t think he was implying anything by their race. Just another point about how similar they all are.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

Bingo!

fred
Guest
fred
2 years 10 months ago

Because in modern parlance “white people” generally just means “totally lame jerks who are stupid and dumb”. It’s a pretty effective form of poisoning the well.

thirteenthirteen
Guest
thirteenthirteen
2 years 10 months ago

why is everyone so mean to white guys all the time? :( My heart totally goes out to the rough treatment they get in this harsh, harsh world.

Eric Palmer
Guest
Eric Palmer
2 years 10 months ago

“Uh. Ruined my day. Boy shouldn’t have called me a cracker. Bringing me back to owning land and people, what a drag.”

-Louis CK

IanKay
Member
IanKay
2 years 10 months ago

I get your (CK’s) point, but neither I, nor my father, nor my grandfather, nor my great-grandfather ever owned slaves or a plantation. Racism goes both ways.

KG
Guest
KG
2 years 10 months ago

Actually it doesn’t, racism is built upon a power dynamic that, in the U.S., white people have held. Anyways, off-topic but just thought you should know.

NS
Guest
NS
2 years 10 months ago

A fascination conclusion. Who needs an argument?

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Member
BenRevereDoesSteroids
2 years 10 months ago

Would Mike Trout spitting into his teammates’ mouths merit a 50 game PED suspension?

Eric Palmer
Guest
Eric Palmer
2 years 10 months ago

That…umm…

Dave k
Guest
Dave k
2 years 10 months ago

Hey – did you know mike trout was really really really good and is being dismissed by old crotchety baseball writers?

mattybobo
Guest
mattybobo
2 years 10 months ago

The thing about the SABR-style analytical “movement” in baseball is that it doesn’t care so much how you provide value, only that you provide it. There are lots of ways to do this, and we have decent-to-great ways of quantifying this, depending on what specific kind of value we’re talking about.

Barry Bonds was a roided-up freak and was old and slow, but he had turned himself into a Super Saiyan Batter. He would crush anything and that’s all there is to it. But his earlier self was a fantastic all-around player, and that’s what Mike Trout is. Similar to Mays and Mantle too.

So the great irony is that Mike Trout is exactly the kind of player old school types love to talk about. Sure, Willie Mays was a hell of a hitter (that’s an understatement) but the defense! The speed! The arm! Well, that’s Mike Trout, and the nerdy “new age” analytic types love him. So naturally he is compared to Miguel Cabrera, who is basically just an offensive juggernaut who is not particularly good at running and is a terrible defender. I’m not saying Miguel Cabrera is roided-up, I just think it’s pretty strange when you step back and realize that the new school tends to advocate for a stereotypical “old school baseball player” in Mike Trout, and the old school seems to advocate for pure offense in Cabrera.

tz
Guest
tz
2 years 10 months ago

I remember someone telling when I was much younger that RBIs were invented as a way to better describe a ballplayer’s value than batting average. I think the rationale was “not all hits mean the same amount”.

Maybe the “RBI generation” drools at what Cabrera is doing because his Triple Crown stats are so dominant, and their trust of stats only expands to the basic raw hitting stats. Remember, these guys watch Derek Jeter make “smart” plays in the field and give him multiple Gold Gloves, despite his severe (and measurable) lack of range. They will love the glovework of guys like Simmons, Iglesias, and Ryan, but chalk up defense as something like an intangible.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

…what arm?

mattybobo
Guest
mattybobo
2 years 10 months ago

I dunno, do Mays or Trout not have a good arm? I didn’t really look ti up, I was just trying to speak in those reverent hushed tones about True Ball Players who do everything The Right Way.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Trout doesn’t have a good arm. HE’S ONLY A 4 TOOL PLAYER!

Ben
Guest
Ben
2 years 10 months ago

Can someone explain to me why b-r has Trout at a negative dWAR despite obviously excellent outfield play?

Blasphemous
Guest
Blasphemous
2 years 10 months ago

Because there’s no real consensus yet on how to effectively measure defensive value?

mangraphs
Member
mangraphs
2 years 10 months ago

Because DRS is bipolar

Stephen
Guest
Stephen
2 years 10 months ago

And schizophrenic.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

While UZR is consistently unable to account for outfielders’ positioning.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron
2 years 10 months ago

His defense at times has not been good. I don’t think he has played “obviously excellent outfield play.” Not that it isn’t excellent, but it isn’t obvious….and I watch most Angels games. Of course, the difference between him and Cabrera defensively is much wider than the gap in their offense. The question then is, is defense equal to offense in value.

mangraphs
Member
mangraphs
2 years 10 months ago

My family went to am Angels game thinking Cabrera was the best player. They left wondering if Mike Trout was God.

Cybo
Guest
Cybo
2 years 10 months ago

I wonder if people cried this much back then when Mays and Mantle didn’t win an MVP in their first two seasons.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t know. Did they deserve to?

DCN
Guest
DCN
2 years 10 months ago

Willie Mays did win the MVP in his second full season. Mantle didn’t lead in WAR until his 4th full season.

Mays did get really shorted on MVP awards (2 against something like 10 WAR crowns) though.

Justin Bailey
Guest
Justin Bailey
2 years 10 months ago

When do we get to see Mike Trout and Mike Carp in the same outfield? Maybe there’s someone somewhere named Mike Perch or Mike Halibut or something that we can use to round out the trio.

Tim Salmon
Guest
Tim Salmon
2 years 10 months ago

If they can pull this off, I’ll change my name to Mike and play right.

People who think they can tell jokes on this site better than Louis CK.
Guest
People who think they can tell jokes on this site better than Louis CK.
2 years 10 months ago

You can probably pull of RF next season, amiably.

drohan
Member
drohan
2 years 10 months ago

In fact, he had a younger brother named Mike. He was a DB at USC and had a short NFL career.

Maverick Squad
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

One though on the Cabrera-Trout MVP races. The problem with Trout this year is that the Angels really fell out of the race and Trout hasn’t been playing in meaningful games for a lot of this season- less pressure to perform. I’m not this means I wouldn’t vote for him-but it does discount his stats a bit.

That being said last year he was playing in heaps of meaningful games, even though his team didn’t make the playoffs.

IanKay
Member
IanKay
2 years 10 months ago

But at what point did the games become “less than meaningful” to the Angels? With about 10 games left in the season, they are 8.5 games out of the wild card. That means that, had they played better all summer, their surge in the last few weeks might have gotten them a playoff spot. Up until a couple weeks ago, it was still a realistic (though unlikely) possibility. And even if you say that the Angels were “out of it” months ago, did they not have to compete against contending teams? Do we give Trout LESS credit for hitting a homer off someone like Scherzer or Verlander – who ARE competing for a playoff spot, and so should be completely focused? Does Mike Trout NOT want to prove that he’s worth a huge contract? Does Mike Trout NOT have media pressure to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke?

And on the flip side, at what point has Miguel Cabrera played in “pressure-packed” games this season? The Tigers’ pitching ataff has been amazing, and they have been in first place virtually all season. They have a 6 game lead with 10 games left. Where is the huge gap in “pressure”?

Josh
Guest
Josh
2 years 10 months ago

As the Tigers have moved closer to securing the division title, Cabrera has played worse. He only has one home run since 8/26, and his OPS during that time is only .747 and has dropped his season OPS by 41 points. You can look at these games as either higher pressure because they are in September or lower pressure because the Tigers are closer to winning the division. Either case looks bad for Cabrera because he either “can’t handle the pressure” or “only plays hard when it counts”. Both are stupid ideas, so why hold that against him? And if you won’t hold the stupid ideas against Cabrera, why hold them against Trout?

Ken Griffey's Grotesquely Swollen Jaw
Guest
Ken Griffey's Grotesquely Swollen Jaw
2 years 10 months ago

Don’t blame Trout because his team is bad, blame the Angels’ front office for surrounding him with declining players with giant contracts

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 10 months ago

Aww, c’mon now. There’s only, what, eight years left on Pujols and four on Hamilton? Those years will fly by like *that*

Aaron
Guest
Aaron
2 years 10 months ago

Don’t forget the owner!

Daniel
Guest
Daniel
2 years 10 months ago

Posnanski has made an argument that makes a lot of sense to me (although I’m admittedly biased as an Angels fan): Trout might deserve MORE credit for continuing to play hard and put up fantastic numbers despite his team being out of it.

Miguel Cabrera is in a pennant race – no extra motivation is needed for him to give everything he has on the playing field, and he certainly shouldn’t have any excuse to lose focus. Trout is, of course, still playing hard for personal reasons (he hasn’t signed that big contract yet), but his team hasn’t provided him any motivation for the past couple of months.

I have no idea what, if any, effect this has on his performance. But I think it’s just as likely Trout deserves extra credit for playing hard while his team is out of it as Cabrera deserves for playing hard while his team is in it.

Jack
Guest
Jack
2 years 10 months ago

Yeah, but let’s see if he can do this again next year.

drohan
Member
drohan
2 years 10 months ago

Fluke!

tbonemacd
Member
tbonemacd
2 years 10 months ago

LOVE is in the air. Trout is God? Trout is compared to the all-time greats? Stop, it’s embarrassing.

Barry Bonds
Guest
Barry Bonds
2 years 10 months ago

Eh, he’s okay I guess.

Ross
Guest
Ross
2 years 10 months ago

Is this article even an article?

Mike Trout spits the world’s dullest platitudes
+
Eno Sarris takes a shallow look at the WAR leaderboards
+
Hugely misleading title

Eno Sarris
Guest
Eno Sarris
2 years 10 months ago

I asked him about WAR and this is what followed, so there’s your title. I knew from my research I might not get great quotes, but when he talked about pull vs oppo I got interested and ran some numbers. You can’t find pull% on the leaderboards, and the idea that Trout is Votto plus some athleticism on the basepaths and in the field made me happy.

Fake GM
Guest
Fake GM
2 years 10 months ago

Did he ever actually address WAR? I hope not. I hope he stared at you blankly. Or laughed.
Leave WAR to us GMs and let the player play.

SABRphreak Shaun
Guest
SABRphreak Shaun
2 years 10 months ago

50+ white guys like to vote for players on playoff teams, based on traditional offensive categories, and don’t focus much on defensive value.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Miguel Cabrera destroys Trout in every offensive category other than SB, 3B and runs, despite a 30 point lower BABiP.

They aren’t close offensively. At all. The difference in their wRC+ is roughly the same as the difference between Paul Goldschmidt and Hunter Pence.

Chad Moriyama
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Park-adjusted offensive value has Miggy at 64.9 runs and Trout at 69.0 runs. Baserunning is an offensive talent, I think that’s obvious.

Now let’s say the defensive gap is only 10 runs instead of 20 runs. Trout still wins by 10 runs. Not exactly a stretch to say that Miggy is bad at third and Trout is good at outfield. Value it any way you want, it’s hard to put Miggy on top while considering their complete games.

Miggy is putting up some of the best hitting seasons I’ve ever seen. Hank Aaron Award well deserved.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t trust UBR either, so Miggy beats Trout 68.3 to 64.8 in my book.

Trout’s been better than Miggy this year, that’s not a question, but, unlike last year, it won’t be a travesty when he wins.

Lifetime Wheelchair
Guest
Lifetime Wheelchair
2 years 10 months ago

You don’t have to trust UBR to understand that Cabrera is basically a Ford Pinto with arms and that there’s a big gap in their baserunning abilities.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Oh, definitely. I just think you can argue that the gap’s closer to 5 than 10.

That, combined with the fact that Kole Calhoun and Peter Bourjos are better backups than what the Tigers have at 3B means that there is an argument that Miggy is the most valuable player in the AL.

Unlike last year, when Trout simply outclassed him.

Chad Moriyama
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Also, you are familiar enough with advanced stats to know why the BABIP difference exists. Come on.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Oh, I know, I just really enjoy the fact that Miggy is so close to outhitting his BABIP. That’s literally my favorite thing.

Turk's Teeth
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

“destroys”? Eh, not so much.

Trout also has more hits, walks and doubles. There’s also that little thing about park and offensive context, which anyone trying to be both a smartass and smartypants should have ass and pants smarts enough to mention.

Park-neutral offensive lines (per B-R):

Cabrera: .350/.446/.654
Trout: .347/.454/.601

There’s no “destroying” there. Their hit tools have virtually identical value, and Cabrera has modestly more power, which looks more exaggerated since he plays in a positive run environment and Trout plays in a negative run environment.

When Trout has more hits, doubles, triples, walks, runs and stolen bases, and Cabrera has more home runs and RBIs, there’s little to support as statement beginning with “Miguel Cabrera destroys Trout in every offensive category…” That looks stupid now — it’s going to look worse in ten years when Detroit fans have cooled and are divested from this horse race.

Miggy has a more developed power tool — that’s it. That’s the basis for the MVP argument. Most everything else is reducible to offensive context (the RBI gambit) and meanwhile the guy’s not even leading in the premier traditional power metric: HRs. That’s Chris Davis’ mark to lose.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

I stopped reading after you referred to a .050 difference in park-adjusted ISO as “modestly more power.”

Don’t say stuff that stupid if you want people to finish your giant wall of text.

Blasphemous
Guest
Blasphemous
2 years 10 months ago

Chicks (and 50 year old baseball writers who are white..) dig the long ball. No other way to explain it really..

Turk's Teeth
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Don’t lose your cool, Mr. Smooth. When you do, you lose the argument, as the downvotes by “people” who trivially scaled the “giant wall of text” let be known.

My comment doesn’t mention ISO, but it does state multiple times that Cabrera has a more developed power tool, and those that fetishize that tool, like yourself, are those that make the MVP case for him. But don’t exaggerate beyond that — that one tool is the only edge Cabrera has on Trout.

amoc21
Member
amoc21
2 years 10 months ago

Mike Trout is the Lebron James of MLB. Neither of them are the best at any individual aspect of the game, but they’re both near the top at everything.

James isn’t the best overall passer or shooter or defender, but his numbers are among the best.

Same goes for Trout, as this article points out. He’s not the best at anything, but he’s like top 5 in most important stats, whether it has to do with hitting, plate discipline, speed, baserunning, or defense.

Most players specialize at one or two things and it overshadows the areas they lack in. Not with these guys though. They can pretty much do anything imaginable and do it was well as the next guy.

seriously
Guest
seriously
2 years 10 months ago

Who cares about UZR other than fangraphs writers?

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 10 months ago

GMs, other people involved in building winning baseball teams, people interested in how winning baseball teams are built.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

No one involved in building a winning baseball team gives half of a shit about UZR.

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 10 months ago

Sez a dude who knows not one half of a shit about it.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

You see, Matt, teams have access to something called “Field F/X” that allows them to actually measure defense, rather than construct a model that can usually approximate what happened.

Their proprietary metrics are leagues and leagues beyond anything MGL could possibly do with the data he has access to.

Please, don’t embarrass yourself by chiming in on stuff you clearly know nothing about.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

That article was from 2010, though, which is pre-Field F/X, right?

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 10 months ago

Lester, you obviously don’t work in baseball at the professional level or know anyone who does. FIELDf/x will certainly render UZR irrelevant at some point, but it hasn’t yet, as of 2013. New technologies aren’t universally adopted completely and instantaneously, etc.

But you already knew that, because you know everything, right?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Dammit, Eno! There goes my self esteem, haha.

I’ve been reading a lot about proprietary defensive metrics over the last couple years, so I figured most teams had them by now.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

(Apologies, Matt)

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 10 months ago

Thanks, man.

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