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.

168 Responses to “Mike Trout on WAR”

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  1. FeslenR says:

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

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    • Jason B says:

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

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      • ReuschelCakes says:

        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.

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        • yolo says:

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

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        • thirteenthirteen says:

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

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

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

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        • Sn0wman says:

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

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        • thirteenthirteen says:

          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.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

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

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        • Jason B says:

          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.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      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)

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      • BMarkham says:

        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.

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      • Jason B says:

        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.

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      • Steve says:

        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.”

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

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

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          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.

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  2. bdhudson says:

    Awesome, thanks again Eno

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  3. Wobatus says:

    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.”

    +32 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Angelsjunky says:

      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.

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      • That Guy says:

        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.

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        • TheUncool says:

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

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  4. Cody says:

    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.

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  5. CubsOfTheNorth says:

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

    -96 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      His WAR is not cited once in this article.

      +69 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jesse says:

      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?

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      • vivalajeter says:

        When people were able to start quantifying their value.

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        • Dave k says:

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

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        • vivalajeter says:

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

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        • Eno Sarris says:

          I wouldn’t have mentioned his two-year defensive total with respect to his value this year otherwise. He’s good at defense, is the point.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          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.

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        • TheUncool says:

          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.

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        • astrostl says:

          “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.

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    • commenter #1 says:

      god, if only it were the last time

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  6. Blasphemous says:

    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..

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Blasphemous but incorrect says:

      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+

      +30 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • James says:

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

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        • vivalajeter says:

          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.

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      • szielinski says:

        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.

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        • Eric Palmer says:

          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.

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      • Babe Ruth says:

        I was Barry Bonds in his Prime.

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      • Al Dimond says:

        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.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

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

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        • Aaron says:

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

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      • Blasphemous says:

        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..

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • vivalajeter says:

          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.

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        • drohan says:

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

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  7. Craig H says:

    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.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. bookbook says:

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

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  9. Billy says:

    Mike Trout is so dreamy…

    *sigh*

    +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Matt says:

    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.

    +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • kwk9 says:

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

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • kwk9 says:

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

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      • Ben says:

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

        -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • kwk9 says:

          “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.

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        • DavidCEisen says:

          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.

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  11. bilbovibrator says:

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

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  12. Blasphemous says:

    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.

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    • tz says:

      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.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      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.

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  13. John M says:

    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.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      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.

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    • That Guy says:

      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.

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    • Bubba says:

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

      +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fred says:

      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.

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    • thirteenthirteen says:

      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.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Eric Palmer says:

        “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

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        • IanKay says:

          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.

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        • KG says:

          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.

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        • NS says:

          A fascination conclusion. Who needs an argument?

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  14. BenRevereDoesSteroids says:

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

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Dave k says:

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

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  16. Eno Sarris says:

    Tweeted this, but it’s fun: List of two-time 10 fWAR position players: Bonds, Mays, Ruth, Hornsby, Mantle, Williams, Gehrig… Trout.

    +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. mattybobo says:

    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.

    +31 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      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.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      …what arm?

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      • mattybobo says:

        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.

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  18. Ben says:

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

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  19. mangraphs says:

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

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Cybo says:

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

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  21. Justin Bailey says:

    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.

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  22. 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.

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    • IanKay says:

      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”?

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      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?

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    • Daniel says:

      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.

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  23. Jack says:

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

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  24. tbonemacd says:

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

    -15 Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Barry Bonds says:

    Eh, he’s okay I guess.

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  26. Ross says:

    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

    -16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      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.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Fake GM says:

        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.

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        • Eno Sarris says:

          He said something like “making plays on offense is great, putting pressure on the other team, but defense is even bigger,” when I asked him about it. And the MVP question was wrapped up in our talking about WAR. Both were responses to WAR, and the rest was a response to the WAR framework.

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  27. SABRphreak Shaun says:

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

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      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.

      -16 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • 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.

        +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          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.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Lifetime Wheelchair says:

          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.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          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.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

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

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

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

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Turk's Teeth says:

        “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.

        +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          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.

          -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Blasphemous says:

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

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Turk's Teeth says:

          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.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. amoc21 says:

    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.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. seriously says:

    Who cares about UZR other than fangraphs writers?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:

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

      +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

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

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

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

          +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Eno Sarris says:

          The AGM of the Braves said they read FG, use FG stats, including defensive ones: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/interview-john-coppolella-of-the-braves/

          +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          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.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

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

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Eno Sarris says:

          From my knowledge, FIELDF/x is in it’s infancy and not every team is currently processing the data. In fact, it may not have been fully set up in all parks until this year.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

          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?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          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.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          (Apologies, Matt)

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

          Thanks, man.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

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