Tonight Is Not a War on WAR

The MVP awards are announced tonight. Buster Posey is going to win, and deservedly so. Miguel Cabrera is also going to win, and he’s not the worst choice the voters have ever made. Cabrera had a fantastic season. This isn’t Juan Gonzalez in 1996 or anything. But, as you almost certainly know by now, I happen to think Mike Trout was both better and more valuable this year. I’ve already written extensively on their respective seasons, so if you want to know why I support Trout, I’d suggest any of these three articles from a couple of months ago.

Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Measuring Value
The AL MVP Debate: We Did This Two Years Ago
Trout Versus Cabrera: Offense Only, Context Included

I’m kind out of things to say about Trout and Cabrera, though. Everything that could possibly be covered has been covered. Anyone who could possibly be swayed has been swayed. At this point, everything else is just arguing for the sake of arguing.

I do hope, however, that tonight isn’t seen as kind of referendum on WAR. Because the pro-Trout people tend to also be pro-WAR people, there’s a tendency to see any argument for Trout as being based on accepting WAR at face value. Really, though, the pro-Trout argument has nothing to do with WAR, because the disagreements between the two sides aren’t about how we should weight their relative offensive performances, how we should handle position adjustments, or whether replacement levels and park factors are arbitrary or accurate. The pro-Trout argument essentially boils down to two main points:

1. The Most Valuable Player can come from a non-playoff team.

2. RBIs aren’t a useful indicator of a player’s value.

And guess what – these exact same two arguments have been going on every year since the beginning of time. Or, at least, since the beginning of Bill James‘ time. These are the arguments about the MVP race every single winter. They were the arguments last year, when Ryan Braun beat out Matt Kemp in the NL MVP race. They were the arguments in 2003, when Alex Rodriguez won the award on a last place team. They were the arguments in both 1996 and 1998, when Juan Gonzalez racked up two MVP awards that he didn’t deserve.

While WAR has become the symbol for the pro-Trout argument, at the end of the day, this is really the same argument that has been going on for 20 or 30 years. If the Tigers hadn’t made the playoffs, or Cabrera hadn’t led the league in runs batted in, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. This entire discussion is about the validity of those specific points, and those two points have been at the heart of nearly every MVP argument since. The names change, but the discussion remains the same.

A lot of voters — an overwhelming majority, I’d say — put a lot of stock in whether a team makes the playoffs, and a good chunk of those are happy to defend the virtues of RBIs. Until and unless WAR incorporates those two factors, it’s never going to be a persuasive argument for that bloc of voter. And WAR is intentionally designed to not include those factors, so for a large population of the BBWAA, WAR will never be a useful tool in determining the MVP.

And that’s why this vote really has nothing to do with WAR. WAR is essentially a proxy in this whole thing, just like cell phone usage is a proxy in presidential politics. Young voters tend to use cell phones, and young voters tend to vote for democrats, but young voters are not voting for democrats because they own cellphones. In the same way, young voters tend to prefer Mike Trout, and young voters tend to like WAR, but they’re not preferring Mike Trout simply because he has a higher WAR. They’re preferring Mike Trout because they’ve discarded the ideas that an MVP has to come from a playoff team and that RBIs are useful measures of a player’s value.

Without those two boxes to check, Cabrera’s MVP case falls apart. Team divisional placement — I can’t even call it team wins, as I originally wrote it, because the Angels won more games than the Tigers this year — and RBIs are the foundation of Cabrera’s case. Those of us who have an affinity for WAR generally don’t put a lot of stock in those things as measures of value. People who have distaste for WAR generally do put a lot of stock in those things. And, just as is the case pretty much every year, the winner will be decided based on how many voters still believe in the value of RBIs and whether a team makes the playoffs or not.

This debate has been framed as WAR vs Traditional Stats. But it’s really not that at all. No one who would vote for Mike Trout simply looked at the WAR leaderboards and decided that it was case closed. No one who voted for Miguel Cabrera looked at the WAR leaderboards and decided to vote for Cabrera to stick it to the nerds. The AL MVP is not a war on WAR. It’s a continuation of the same argument we’ve been having as long as I’ve followed baseball. And until we come to some kind of agreement on RBIs and whether an MVP can come from a non-playoff team, we’ll continue to have these same arguments every winter.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Efrain
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Efrain
3 years 10 months ago

Lets not be naive, please. Of course the WAR number, whatever it is, has a huge impact in any discussion going forward. Its called “Anchoring” and its a very interesting concept

Bohr
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Bohr
3 years 10 months ago

Debates over, ultimately, pretty meaningless awards just don’t do it for me. Let’s get back to AFL and Caliente Stove stuff!

reillocity
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reillocity
3 years 10 months ago

I think you hit on what the real debate should be. And that is “Why should the sabermetrically-inclined care about who gets a subjectively-voted-upon award that references one season of performance?”. It all seems frivolous to me.

jcxy
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jcxy
3 years 10 months ago

I agree with you both…I find it tough to care/be outraged about something as subjective as an MVP vote.

cody k
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cody k
3 years 10 months ago

the problem is that the arguments that people put forth to justify Cabrera winning involve the same flawed reasoning that permeates other parts of the media ie narrative > logic

chone!
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chone!
3 years 10 months ago

Then fight shitty logic when it matters, like you know, public policy. The MVP awards–for the educated consumer–should not matter. Unless, of course, narrative matters, but then…oh wait

Andrew
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Andrew
3 years 10 months ago

What if the MLB only gave out one MVP/CY/ROY live whery other league? Cabrera wouldn’t have won the triple crown and therefor smaller % of voters voting for him.

So, if there was only one MVP like every other pro league, does Cabrera still somehow over take Trout?

Rex Manning Day
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Rex Manning Day
3 years 10 months ago

Cabrera actually would have come close to the Triple Crown anyway. He ended up only 6 points behind Posey, and led both leagues in the other categories. So he probably would have remained in the discussion, at least.

But I suspect that if there was only one MVP award, it would actually go to Posey over Trout. Trout’s best argument over Posey is his baserunning, but the fact that Posey’s a catcher and played on a “winning team” would have given him the edge, I think.

Of course, The Nerds would probably be more ok with Posey getting the MVP over Trout than Cabrera, and the argument would not have been quite so heatedly Old School v. New School. There would have been a lot of focus on the “winning team” argument, but that fight is never going away.

Cabrera probably would have come in third, though.

Alan
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Alan
3 years 10 months ago

This is an interesting point: the idea that expanding the pool of eligible players (i.e. combining the AL and NL for one leaderboard of stats and one MVP) would flip flop Cabrera and Trout in some people’s eyes. Even though they would have the exact same seasons as they do now (and so would every other player), the fact that Cabrera didn’t win the triple crown would be enough to change some people’s minds. It doesn’t make any sense, but I imagine it would prove true in many cases.

Chris
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Chris
3 years 10 months ago

Isn’t that why a few of us were rooting for Josh Hamilton to hit a few more HRs?

AJ
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AJ
3 years 10 months ago

I never actually used WAR in my conversations with people about the topic. I used components of WAR, but not WAR itself. Personally I believe it’s simpler not use WAR honestly. That way the other person can understand why exactly one player outproduced another.

Good, sensible article Dave.

Taco Bill
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Taco Bill
3 years 10 months ago

WAR is a summary statistic. If you can summarize more effectively, that’s all the better.

chuckb
Member
chuckb
3 years 10 months ago

I agree. The only world in which Cabrera is a choice here is a world in which players don’t run the bases or play defense. But because those 2 things matter, there shouldn’t be a debate.

David
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David
3 years 10 months ago

I still don’t understand one basic thing in this.
In the decade after Michael Lewis wrote his book, the “traditionalist” view is that “stats guys” overvalue what a player does at the plate at the expense of appreciating the full range of what it means to be a great baseball player… namely defense and baserunning. Yet somehow, this year, that’s taken a complete 180 and the “traditionalists” are overwhelmingly in favor of a guy who is, at best, really bad at defense and baserunning. I just don’t get it.

Llewdor
Member
Llewdor
3 years 10 months ago

Because we were really bad at measuring defense a decade ago. We didn’t think defense didn’t matter – we just couldn’t measure it, so the only sensible thing to do was ignore it when making decisions.

Now we can measure it.

At the same time, the “traditionalists” are becoming more refined at evaluating hitting, largely because of the success of empiral, data-driven approaches like the one described in Moneyball. So while they catch up on hitting, and thus begin to value it more appropriately, we move ahead on fielding.

That explains the switch you see.

Peter
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Peter
3 years 10 months ago

“we just couldn’t measure it, so the only sensible thing to do was ignore it when making decisions.”

Sorry, got to call that out. It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on this site.

Jed Porkins (above Death Star)
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Jed Porkins (above Death Star)
3 years 10 months ago

Until the triple crown categories aren’t listed on the tv screen while a hitter is in the batter’s box or announcers recite these stats, we are going to be having this discussion. Having some of the electorate die out will help, as will people evolving into smarter baseball onlookers, but the major networks
cling to this archaic stuff and force feed it on the average viewer.

jim
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jim
3 years 10 months ago

they still show the triple crown stats for leadoff men! and pitchers! ugh

bstar
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bstar
3 years 10 months ago

I gave you a +1 for your name alone, Jed.

ksj
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ksj
3 years 10 months ago

“And until we come to some kind of agreement on RBIs and whether an MVP can come from a non-playoff team, we’ll continue to have these same arguments every winter. ”

…and do we really want to get to a point where we are not arguing about the MVP race? Where we just consult a list, or aggregator or computer and see who the MVP is? Not sure…

fireal20
Member
fireal20
3 years 10 months ago

There is literally no one arguing this.

Mike P
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Mike P
3 years 10 months ago

If there was only one MVP aware given for both leagues it would be Posey versus Trout. The arguments for Posey would be pretty much the same as the ones for Cabrera. Posey’s team made the post season and we swap the RBI argument for having to give him slack that he hit as well as he did whlie primarily playing catcher. Would everyone still be arguing so passionately that Trout should win over Posey?

Jon L.
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Jon L.
3 years 10 months ago

You’re not the first one to make this argument, but I just don’t think it’s true. Two leagues, 1 MVP –> We’d get Miguel Cabrera again. Try sorting the leader boards by batting average, and you can see that Cabrera is just a tick behind Posey, but slaughters him by 31 runs, 20 homers, and 36 rbi’s. And isn’t the whole point of batting to produce runs?

I really don’t see why people imagine Posey’s presence would damage Cabrera’s voting bloc.

bstar
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bstar
3 years 10 months ago

I agree here. I think most voters would still see Cabrera and Trout as the two best players in baseball this year.

Peter
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Peter
3 years 10 months ago

You know…even those who rely on the traditional slash line should adjust for park effects.

Natty G
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Natty G
3 years 10 months ago

I disagree that Cabrera’s case is entirely built on RBIs and playoff appearances. Cabrera had a significantly higher OPS, and performed better down the stretch, across a variety of offensive statistics.

Now that’s not to say that those two factors warrant giving the MVP to Cabrera. But to say that the case for Cabrera comes down to only playoff appearances and RBIs is false.

To me, it really comes down to how much value we place on base running and defense versus strictly at-the-plate offensive performance.

Natty G
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Natty G
3 years 10 months ago

One addendum: Cabrera also played more games than Trout, which is an explicit factor in the BWAA definition of the award. Again, that doesn’t automatically mean he should win (I’m aware that the sabrmetric analyses show Trout was more valuable than Cabrera for the season despite playing in ~20 less games), but again to say that Cabrera’s case comes down simply to RBIs and playoffs is an oversimplification.

Dan
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Dan
3 years 10 months ago

agree. Dave is being disingenuous by implying that RBI and playoff appearance are the only things being counted as important by some (many) voters.

Peter
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Peter
3 years 10 months ago

Disingenuous implies that he knows better. Cameron is a guy who picks a cause, usually in petitio principii style, and then confirmation biases himself into a corner on a range of topics.

Jon L.
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Jon L.
3 years 10 months ago

Except that Mike Trout has the higher park-adjusted OPS, leading the league with a 171 while Cabrera’s inferior offensive performance produced a 165.

colin
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colin
3 years 10 months ago

Except that OPS is really not the best way to measure offensive performance…so there’s that.

J.D.
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J.D.
3 years 10 months ago

@colin

Jon L. isn’t saying that OPS is the best way to measure offensive performance. He’s only using it in the context that the original poster used it.

Natty G
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Natty G
3 years 10 months ago

Again, the point isn’t that OPS is the be-all, end-all, or that it warrants giving Cabrera the MVP. The point is that one could decide to award Cabrera the MVP on the basis of OPS, and thus not just base the rationale on RBI and playoff appearances like the post suggested. In other words, there are potential bases (not necessarily persuasive, but potential) for awarding the MVP to Cabrera besides the two that Cameron said the entire case hinged on.

Mike
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Mike
3 years 10 months ago

I like WAR. But, in my opinion, the actual production stats matter in MVP discussions. RBIs matter to me because he got hits and runners scored because of him. And they won because he got those hits.

Would someone else be able to drive in 140 in that spot? Maybe? Maybe not. But the fact of the matter is Cabrera was there and he did it. He produced.

It’s like Ovechkin winning an MVP but he had Backstrom feeding him every game. He still did it. He scored those goals.

I’m not going to argue one way or the other but I hate how traditional stats that *make you win the games* are thrown out for rates and percentages by this new school thought. I think you have to take both into account.

chuckb
Member
chuckb
3 years 10 months ago

“They won because they got those hits.”

But you can’t sincerely make that argument without also acknowledging the fact that Trout scored 20 more runs than Cabrera did this year. He got those hits, reached base, got into scoring position, and scored the runs and the bottom line in this game is scoring runs. No one in baseball did that better than Trout this year. If you’re going to use the RBI canard, you can’t have it without also using the Runs Scored canard.

After all, would Cabrera have scored that many runs in front of the Angels’ offense? Maybe? Maybe not. But Trout was there and he did it. He produce.

Jones
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Jones
3 years 10 months ago

But Trout literally did more to *make them win games* (RE24, WPA). The point is that RBIs present an incomplete picture of what it takes to win games. What about runs? Would Cabrera have been able to score 129 runs from Trout’s spot?

Bob R.
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Bob R.
3 years 10 months ago

But why are RBIs more indicative than Runs when measuring value? And for that matter, why is BA more significant than OBP? If we substitute OBP and Runs for BA and RBI, Trout beats out Cabrera in 2 of the 3 “triple crown” categories.

bstar
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bstar
3 years 10 months ago

Mike, you can answer the question about whether someone else could have driven in 140 with BPro’s OBI%, a measure of the percentage of runners driven in.

MIguel Cabrera -444 runners on/95 OBI(RBI-HR)/21.4 OBI%
Josh Hamilton – 383 runners on/85 OBI/22.2 OBI%

If you flip-flop Hamilton and Cabrera’s RBI opportunities and apply the same percentages, then yes Hamilton would have led the league in RBI.

Cabrera 383 opportunities x .214 = 82 OBI + 44 HR = 126 RBI
Hamilton 444 opportunities x .222 = 99 OBI + 43 HR = 142 RBI

So yes, absolutely, Cabrera won the RBI title because of more opportunities.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1091213

TKDC
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TKDC
3 years 10 months ago

I agree that making the playoffs (particularly with fewer wins than your closest competitor for the award) is not a great metric, but it is still much better than RBIs.

Ari N
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Ari N
3 years 10 months ago

The RBI argument is really the most aggravating. A lot of people will simply not accept that RBI’s are essentially meaningless. There is some serious indoctrination with that stat.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
3 years 10 months ago

But they arn’t “meaningless”. RBI is an accurate measure of how many runs a batter drove in during the season. Its what actually happened. When evaluating MVP the key word is value. If you interpret this as best player then you will reach a different conclusion than if you interpret it as valuable player. The runs that a player drove in for his team have value to that team. The more runs a player actually generated in 2012 is relevant when discussing 2012 value to team wins.

Sure its not predictive of anything, sure its dependent on opportunity and teammates, but it is still an accurate statistic of run generation that is relevant to a player’s value to his team’s past success in 2012.

I’m a Saber guy about 95% in, but what aggravates me is the dismissiveness that many show toward measuring stats when it comes to discussing what did happen, not what will happen or should have happened. For example, many want to use FIP for the Cy Young rather than the actual runs a pitcher allowed. These awards are for past accomplishment. The runs counted on the scoreboard, ERA makes more sense to me. Its about what did happen, not what should have happened.

To Dave’s article, I think the debate also includes the value of defense. Many look at MVP as an award for best hitter.

Bob R.
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Bob R.
3 years 10 months ago

I am willing to consider traditional stats such as RBI when considering value. But what irritates me is that the mystique surrounding the Triple Crown has dominated the case for Cabrera as if those 3 categories are more important than other traditional categories.

It is true that having a triple crown season is rare, but that does not make it more important than leading in OBP and Runs. After all, there have been more 60+ home run seasons than 60+ doubles seasons. Does that make hitting doubles more valuable than hitting home runs because it is rarer to achieve such heights?

And to emphasize the point, the most triples in a season is 36. Obviously hitting 36 or more home runs is far more common, but I don’t think someone would automatically deserve an MVP because he hit 40 triples one year.

Cabrera had a wonderful offensive season. There are legitimate arguments that he deserves the MVP. But the fact that he led in RBIs or won the triple crown is among the weakest, and given the broader talents of Trout, even considering only traditional stats, it seems to me the Angel outfielder is more deserving.

Ari N
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Ari N
3 years 10 months ago

“What did happen”? An RBI is in no way descriptive of a player’s performance. This is the indoctrination that I was mentioning. There are a myriad of ways for a player to drive in a run that are unequivocal failures. Virtually any other offensive stat short of runs scored provides more information about a player’s performance. RBI provides a cloudy and incomplete picture at best. That is not the type of stat I want to use when trying to judge a player’s performance. Call me dismissive, but hey, I’m just looking for accuracy.

Chris
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Chris
3 years 10 months ago

“There are a myriad of ways for a player to drive in a run that are unequivocal failures.”

No, not really. Scoring runs is still the measure of this game.

Ari N
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Ari N
3 years 10 months ago

You’re confusing scoring runs with driving in runs. Again, failed at bats routinely lead to runs batted in.

KCDaveInLA
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KCDaveInLA
3 years 10 months ago

Let’s also consider the argument that many believe helped David Price win the Cy Young Award over Justin Verlander: quality of competition in the division. I think it’s safe to say that Mike Trout faced considerably tougher pitching overall than Cabrera did. Trout had to face the tough staff of Texas, the talented rookies in Oakland, as well as King Felix and Jason Vargas. Cabrera got the Royals, the Indians, and the Twins, and didn’t even have to face his shoulda-been-Cy-Young-winner teammate.

Dan
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Dan
3 years 10 months ago

For the record, Price’s competition wasn’t significantly better. It was jsut a hair better, true, but not enough that it should have made any difference. Price won because of the W’s.

colin
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colin
3 years 10 months ago

This is the worst argument ever. If I hear one more idiot proclaim, “but he faced worse competition because he was in division (insert division),” I will freak. That matters between the AL and NL. Between divisions people largely see enough of everyone else in other divisions for this not to matter. It is consistently proven to be a red herring. You’re really just as bad as the Cabrera should win because of RBI crowd for using it.

Antonio bananas
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Antonio bananas
3 years 10 months ago

Is it? What about the stadiums each guy sees?

Haishan
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Haishan
3 years 10 months ago

“It is consistently proven to be a red herring.”

Citation? Sure, over the course of a season differences in guys’ results due to facing different pitchers will probably tend to even out, but I have trouble believing that it can’t add up to a few runs of advantage over 162 games. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, however.

Justin
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Justin
3 years 10 months ago

Why does Posey automatically deserve the award over Braun? Braun had a better or equal season then the one that he had when he did win the MVP last year. Only difference is he didn’t have Fielder in the line up protecting him and the Brewers didn’t go to the playoffs. Plus he had to deal with the all the negativity and stress of the substance abuse attacks on his character. He had a season to show all the doubters up. So why is their no arguments why he can’t take home the award? He matches up statistically with Posey yet people are ready to give him the award. Is it because his team went to the playoffs and won the World Series? Seems like people are using one argument to defend Trout’s choice but ignoring it for Posey over Braun. With that said i have no problem with Posey winning the award.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
3 years 10 months ago

Pretty sure people are ignoring Braun based on that PED test.

Sam
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Sam
3 years 10 months ago

Yes, Braun had a better season than he did last year, but he probably shouldn’t have won last year either; Kemp had a better year. As for this year, it’s much closer, but Posey probably was better by a small margin. He had better advanced offensive numbers at a more difficult position, and he probably doesn’t get enough statistical credit for his fielding and game-calling. As well, if you give Braun credit for ‘dealing with negativity and stress’ from the haters, you must give Posey credit for coming back from his ankle being destroyed. It should probably be closer than it will be, but Posey’s the rightful MVP, statistically and otherwise.

Justin
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Justin
3 years 10 months ago

i agree that Posey deserves the award. Offensive stats like that from a catcher is impressive even if he played almost 30 games at 1st. I haven’t looked at the pitching stats of how SanFran did without him behind the plate but i think when you got a couple aces like Bumgarner, and Cain they can make any catcher game calling look good. But i also take into consideration his team made the playoffs and Braun’s didn’t. Its not going to be as close as the AL MVP, but i think its going to be closer then some people think.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
3 years 10 months ago

Maybe I don’t know enough about the WAR statistic, but I don’t understand the context on how it is used? If you add up the WAR for players on any given team it does not equate to the actual wins that team had? I get that a statistic can compare to other players, but how can wins that didn’t actually happen be compared? Just asking, not making a judgement.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
3 years 10 months ago

If you add up the combined WAR for a team’s players you do indeed get a team WAR value. The key is that its wins above replacement. A replacement level team would win about 43 games give our take, so you add 43 to the team WAR to see the team’s WAR based win total. This number can be higher or lower than reality (its usually fairly close) due to the many unmeasurable things that occur in a season. Some use this approach to evaluate overachieving and underachieving as a better measure than pythagorean record based solely on runs.

Chummy Z
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Chummy Z
3 years 10 months ago

“No one who voted for Miguel Cabrera looked at the WAR leaderboards and decided to vote for Cabrera to stick it to the nerds.”

I lol’d at this. I really like it when you put unexpected snark in your writing.

Mike D
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Mike D
3 years 10 months ago

I am not your typewriter

Miguel Cabrera
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Miguel Cabrera
3 years 10 months ago

Hey Guys! Not everyone can be fast!!!! If you are born slow you are guaranteed to be worse at defense and baserunning.

Speed may be inherently valuable in baseball, but it is the one thing that I can’t get get better at. (Okay, I could lose 20-30 pounds, sure)

Zach
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Zach
3 years 10 months ago

Thanks for writing that first paragraph. I’m a Tiger fan and a stat nerd, I would obviously vote for Trout for MVP, but it makes the baseball nerd community look bad when guys like Keith Law are getting all emotional about the debate and saying things like Cabrera isn’t a Top 5 or Top 3 player in the American League. I think Cabrera was the second, arguably third best player in the AL after Cano. It would be pretty tough to argue he wasn’t in the Top 5. If he wins the MVP, it probably wouldn’t be the best choice, but it would be far more reasonable that a lot of the MVP choices in the past 20 years. Trout had one of the best years in recent history, Cabrera also had a year that would make him deserving of the MVP most years.

Doc
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Doc
3 years 10 months ago

This is me in a nutshell. What hurts the most is that this is Miggy, my favorite player. Despite attempts at being subjective I cannot because of the joy he brings me when I watch him play. It sucks that he is the face of the “old school” and his shortcomings (speed,defense) have been emphasized while his bat has been largely ignored. Especially by Keith Law, who is my favorite writer at ESPN, who has made hating Cabrera his personal hobby.

Whatever happens tonight happens. I am 60/40 Miggy because my emotions do matter. Go Tigers!

Colin
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Colin
3 years 10 months ago

Cabrera can not win, that’s fine. But people like Law lose credibility when they say borderline idiotic things like he’s not in the top 5.

eayres33
Member
eayres33
3 years 10 months ago

He said that months ago, on his final vote he had him third, where he belonged.

Maverick60
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Maverick60
3 years 10 months ago

The only comment I would like to make is that if value is looked at from an entertainment value point of view, Trout gets my vote. Watching an Angels game was more exciting than any other team, to me, because the potential of Trout doing something spectacular at any time, Offense or defense. When he got on base, I had to watch to see if he would steal second. If the next batter got a hit, it was to see what base Trout would end up on. When he was in the batters box, I rooted for a double down the line, just to watch him round first at full speed. On defense, every time a ball was hit, I wanted it to go in Trout’s direction. I got more enjoyment watching Trout play than any other player in the game.

That’s why I want him to get the MVP.

Wait, no it’s not. It’s still because he was a better player, on a team that won more games, against better opposition.

If the A’s would have sucked like they were supposed to, the only argument against him would have been RBI.

jrogers
Member
jrogers
3 years 10 months ago

Wilco reference, or totally unintentional?

Jesus, etc.
Guest
Jesus, etc.
3 years 10 months ago

I think that it’s probably just because daddy’s payday is not enough.

Mike D
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Mike D
3 years 10 months ago

Youre gonna lose

Snoth
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Snoth
3 years 10 months ago

When arguing about baseball with most fans, I feel like I’m talking with 10 year olds.

Mike
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Mike
3 years 10 months ago

I disagree with Dave on some of this. I think people are using the “Cabrera’s team made the playoffs” argument because they don’t want to be laughed at by saying “Cabrera is the MVP because he won the Triple Crown.” I really don’t think the playoffs thing is as important as Dave suggests in this particular case (no doubt it’s played a big role at other times, though).

Also think people are focusing on the wrong bloc of media with the “they’ll never buy into WAR/advanced metrics” stuff. The problem with advanced stats is the overwhelming majority (seemingly, at least) of current and former players who can’t stand new age statistics, no matter how dumb the reasoning for that is. If you have a ton of writers who have always seen the game a certain way going up to players who say the newer statistical models are stupid, it’s always going to be a challenge to bring them around. Eventually, the prevalence of statistical analysis in the front offices around the league will be the thing that breaks through to the hold outs in the media, but it’s always going to take a while if 75+ percent of current and former players think it’s nonsense.

Antonio bananas
Guest
Antonio bananas
3 years 10 months ago

I’ve never understood this. Players are generally not smart in terms of quantitative analysis. Sure, ask John Kruk why a player has a whole in his swing, but don’t ask him to use hard facts and measurable analysis to prove player A is better than player B.

It seems like the general sports medians guys with communications and journalism degrees and former jocks. Neither of those are qualified for this kind of analysis.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
3 years 10 months ago

This is definitely a war on WAR. WAR supporters had never had a worthy mvp candidate until this year summer. Look at past WAR champions, BEN FRICKEN ZOBRIST. They saw Trout was leading WAR and felt he could be a shoo-in for MVP. The only problem is Trout couldn’t maintain his insanely high BABIP and slid in September, while Cabrera, sniffing a triple crown and the playoffs, overtook Trout as the favorite.

Now SABR worshippers are stuck with Trout and trying to back out by saying it’s NOT a referendum on WAR when we all damn well know if Trout was the favorite we’d be seeing articles on how it is a a referendum.

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice…. we won’t get fooled again.

Natty G
Guest
Natty G
3 years 10 months ago

Doesn’t the fact that Ben Zobrist led the league in WAR tell you that the MVP should be about much more than just the WAR leaderboard?

asdf
Guest
asdf
3 years 10 months ago

Except the Tigers had to rely on a collapse from the White Sox you fucking cunt.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 10 months ago

And the A’s relied upon the 285 batting average and 883 ho hum OPS from Trout in the last 1/3 of the season…

Gregory
Guest
Gregory
3 years 10 months ago

Why do you think that Trout’s BABIP is unsustainable? Have you looked at his BABIP in the minors? Miggy Cabrera has an “insanely” high career BABIP as well, and that dude runs like he’s pulling a tire.

Trout’s “decline” late in the season was probably part bad luck and part fatigue – the MLB season is very long and Trout had never played that much before. But to say it was all due to his BABIP regressing to the mean belies Trout’s skills – skills he has demonstrated previously.

The Bitter Side of Dave Cameron
Guest
The Bitter Side of Dave Cameron
3 years 10 months ago

Hey look!

Another Trout > Cabrera article!

Desdroia
Member
Desdroia
3 years 10 months ago

I’ve supported Trout as the MVP choice for most of the season, but today something occurred to me that I could probably look up but I’m sure a more experienced saber person can explain it to me. Trout obviously dominates Miggy on the basepaths, but shouldn’t they be compared by their baserunning abilities relative to their respective positional average? I’m sure Trout vs miggy on the basepaths would still outweigh the average CF vs 3B on the basepaths, but the difference wouldn’t be as great as when we compare them as two baserunners in a vacuum. Especially since we can pretty much assume Bourjos would at least come close to canceling out Trout’s fielding and baserunning advantage if he were to replace him.

Terence
Member
Member
Terence
3 years 10 months ago

If we were to measure a player’s BSR value relative to the average value of similar positioned players, then we would need to adjust the positional adjustments. The difference between Cabrera and Trout would be the same.

I have no idea what point you are trying to make with Bourjos, but Trout shouldn’t be penalized because the Angels GM has a suitable replacement player on his bench while the Tiger’s GM does not. (And I have no reason to believe that Bourjos is anywhere near the baserunner that Trout is.)

TX Ball Scout
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TX Ball Scout
3 years 10 months ago

The geeks’ baseball weenies are going crazy tonight!

Dalane
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Dalane
3 years 10 months ago

3. Defense. Most Valuable PLAYER, not BATTER.

Nick
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Nick
3 years 10 months ago

I believe that the old school ballots will have cabrera first and trout second, with somebody else third. But the saber guys will have trout first and many will have cano second with cabrera third. If the first place votes are close to being split, trout can win because a lot of third place votes for cabrera.

Harry
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Harry
3 years 10 months ago

I think the major problem is the perception of the argument.

Most knowledgable, sabrmagicians think Trout should win because of offense, defense and baserunning. They acknowledge the discrepancies of year to year defensive metrics. They know the baserunning maybe a little off. They’re not voting Trout because of WAR, they’re voting because of what they’ve seen him do in those three categories that create WAR. WAR is a flawed statistic, and most in the community know that.

It’s not “Trout bcuz WAR”, it’s Trout because of things that the SABR community finds valuable that traditionalists don’t want to see.

Antonio bananas
Guest
Antonio bananas
3 years 10 months ago

It’s logic, science, and quantitative analysis vs “well it just feels right and how we’ve always done it”. I’d be interested to see if there is a correlation between liberals and conservatives with certain players.

Antonio bananas
Guest
Antonio bananas
3 years 10 months ago

My argument for trout is that you wouldn’t use the same logic in any other rational decision. If you are a business looking to acquire another, you don’t simply look at revenue and assets and pick the one with the highest, that’s so incomplete.

To me it’s far beyond what stats we use, it’s using your brain and thinking vs not using your brain and thinking.

LondonStatto
Guest
LondonStatto
3 years 10 months ago

Players not on playoff teams *can* win, but they normally only do if their performance is significantly better than the best players on playoff teams.

At the end of the season when it matters more (both psychologically and because there are more intradivisional games), Cabrera stepped it up and led his team to the playoffs, whereas Trout’s performance dropped off and (therefore?) his team missed the playoffs.

As for WAR, it’s clearly flawed as it doesn’t even rank Cabrera as the most valuable player on his team! I suspect it over-negatives DPs.

Joe
Guest
Joe
3 years 10 months ago

“A lot of voters — an overwhelming majority, I’d say — put a lot of stock in whether a team makes the playoffs, and a good chunk of those are happy to defend the virtues of RBIs.”

It so refreshing to see SABR inclined writers not to resort to strawman, narratives and generalities and rely on cold hard data before forming conclusions. I especially like the survey that was done so you didn’t just generalize comments from some people into an “overwhelming majority” viewpoint.

Also good to see quantification and analysis like “a lot of stock” as opposed to “a little stock” as clearly this would be a binary factor that would be given a ton of weight or no weight and there can be no in between.

It’s nice to see the SABR community not resorting to strawman creation and continuing to use objective data driven analysis before coming up with generalities to argue a viewpoint (sadly the mainstream media and “old school” baseball people resorts to this tactic all the time)

Skip
Guest
Skip
3 years 10 months ago

You have to give it to Cabrera. Made the World Series while Trout stayed home. Trout still hasn’t proven his clutch gene. Cabrera got a ring his rookie year. Trout has been a disappointment thus far in terms of winning.

Dave G.
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Is this a joke? Did you see what Trout did in Sept. and August? Or close and late situations before making that statement? Cabrera’s team made the playoffs because the Tigers played in the Central and won 88 games. The Angels played in the West and won 89.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 10 months ago

riiiiight…with Trout’s nice but ho hum 285/383/500 and 50% higher K rate from August on versus MIggy’s 342/410/671…..or MIggy’s 1.040 Late and Close OPS vs Trout’s .784

sound the Price is Right horn…..

Matt V.
Guest
Matt V.
3 years 10 months ago

Are you pretending to be Skip Bayless? If so, that’s pretty funny.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
3 years 10 months ago

WAR needs more logic. It still doesn’t make sense, and this is a referendum on that WAR is NOT ready for the time. SABR will make advances. I’lll support those advances. They simply aren’t here yet.

Just because a formula spits out a number does not mean it’s objectively better. Fix the formula, and we will listen.

asdf
Guest
asdf
3 years 10 months ago

So we rely on some stupid shit like RIBEYEZ AND TRUPLE CRAUNS!!!?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan
3 years 10 months ago

Cabrera also led the league in slugging, and struck out at a much lower rate than Trout.

Kyle
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Kyle
3 years 10 months ago

Commence butthurt for Trout

Zigs
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Zigs
3 years 10 months ago

I have a problem with the way war overadjusts for defensive players with good range. In 2011, Elvis Andrus had a very good defensive war numbers, but couldn’t field routine groundballs. Until defensive metrics are fixed, WAR seems to be a very unfair measurement.

CJ
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CJ
3 years 10 months ago

If Andrus reaches 20 balls the average SS doesn’t reach, and boots 10 balls the average SS reaches easily, he’s up 10 hits, right?

A hit saved is a hit saved.

MrKnowNothing
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MrKnowNothing
3 years 10 months ago

Cabrera was the better hitter this year. Maybe not by much, but he was. That’s why folks are gonna vote for him.

Trout was the better player and all, but it’s kind of … embarassing to think voters were only looking at RBIs or playoff teams.

Jim Leyland
Guest
Jim Leyland
3 years 10 months ago

I think a great deal of people overlook the fact that Miggy volunteered to move to third base. He could have thrown a fit at the signing of Fielder, but instead he moved across the field to the hot corner (I know Fielder helped his offensive stats). Most thought he would have a hard time adjusting to third base and some talking heads in the media thought he would be down right horrible. He was average for the most of the year. I am a Tigers fan and I watched just about all of their games this past season. He got better as the season went on and played solid. Was he great? No. I could go either way on the MVP discussion. For Trout to do what he did in a shortened season in his rookie campaign is down right unbelievable. People scoff at the Triple Crown, but it is a rare feat that he accomplished in a year that he shifted positions (instead of being the everyday DH). Trout would get my vote yesterday if Miggy was the primary DH. He played third base in 154 games this year. That is a testament to the type of player Miggy is, whatever his team needs.

Now I need a smoke! Jim Leyland

Gregory
Guest
Gregory
3 years 10 months ago

Cabrera’s defense was horrible, and he cost his team a lot of runs. And this wasn’t like Pete Rose switching to 3B a month after the 1975 season started, a position he had never played before. Cabrera played SS and 3B exlusively in the minors. He was a regular at 3B until 2008. He had the entire spring to prepare to play 3B and he was still awful.

The Tigers would have almost certainly won more games keeping Miggy at first, making Fielder the DH, and finding a defensive specialist to play 3B. Instead, Delmon Young got 608 plate appearances.

Paul
Guest
Paul
3 years 10 months ago

So while I an reasonably bright and can acknowledge that Trout is ‘more valuble’ than Miggy once the sum of all the baseball activities are considered. I still wanted Miggy to win the MVP award (Dr. Spock would not be happy).

The way I look at this, is the MVP is subjective, they like to reward people who are mid career over a 1st year player (maybe the view that Trout has his own award for rookies).

An MVP formula:-

MVP = xHitting + yDefense (taking tinto account position as well) + zBaserunning + ‘intangibles’

x/y/z are weighting factors (and not neccesarily equal to the WAR ones)
‘intangibles’ = success of team, narrative, etc.

For me, although what Trout did was historic at his age, the narratives weigh heavily in Miggy’s favour:-

Old pro vs Rookie (Miggy has ‘served his time’; Trout has plenty ahead of him; Miggy has ‘earned his MVP’)

Playoffs (not fair but there you go), and the ‘perception’ that Miggy upped his game down the stretch, and Trout fell-off a bit

Miggy moved to 3B for Prince (whether he was horrible or not, and i beleive he was better than expected, this means he is putting team first)

Oh and Triple Crown, 1st in 40+ years

I would also suggest that many voters have a different weighting of x/y/z than Fangraphs. I personally would value Miggy’s better hitting more than here (and it’s only as close as made out to be once frankly unbelievavle park factors are considered – Angels stadium now plays like Petco? Really?)

WAR (whatever flavour) does a pretty good job (at least for offense) of bringing to light the value in BsR, DEF and Position, but I do feel that while it does that, it downplays the exceptional bats (I mean what would Miggy’s batting line have to be to hit 10WAR based on his DEF/BsR – video game numbers?), and it simply does not reflect the highly subjective MVP awards thinking.

In fairness Miggy himself acknowledged that without the playoffs (thanks CWS), and without the triple crown (thanks Josh, Edwin, Curtis, JoeyB’s injury) he doesn’t get the MVP, although he emphasised that while DEF and BsR and position are getting more credit, its mostly about the hitting – and Miggy is a better hitter than Trout.

But I hope Trout comes back with another great year and wins the MVP handsomely (along with Harper in the NL).

In reality, you can summarise the MVP awards as the ‘main guy having good overall numbers who upped their game for the stretch run, and their team made the playoffs’. No-one cares about RBIs other than it gave Miggy the Triple Crown (Chase Headley for MVP anyone?)

beelza
Guest
beelza
3 years 10 months ago

Two years in a row, sabr metrics have failed! to deliver MLB’s most coveted individual award. In a crazy turn, Verlander had the superior, advanced stats, sabr stats and he loses this year’s Cy to a pitcher that had better traditional stats. Sabr metics is having a serious identity crisis. Moreover, the Detroit Tigers had terrible sabr stats compared to the Rangers, Angels, Yankees yet they win the AL Pennant. Sabr metrics suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

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