Trout Versus Cabrera: Offense Only, Context Included

This piece originally ran on Ocotber 4th. Given the attention that Trout and Cabrera are going to receive today, I figured it was probably worth running again.

The AL MVP debate continues to rage on, and at this point, most of the arguments have already been made on both sides. If you think the Triple Crown should always be rewarded with an MVP, you’re voting for Miguel Cabrera. If you think the winner of the award has to come from a playoff team, you’re voting for Miguel Cabrera. If you think that WAR is a decent measure of player value, you’re voting for Trout. At this point, both sides are basically just yelling at each other, and no one is changing their minds.

However, for those who are uncomfortable with any of those positions and might still be on the fence, I wanted to offer one more perspective on the issue. The reality is that the case for Cabrera requires the assumption that baserunning and defense are of marginal value, and that position players should really by evaluated by their hitting statistics. The case for Cabrera also wants you to take context into account, since Cabrera drove in so many more runs than Trout did, and wants Cabrera to receive credit for his accomplishments with men on base. Interestingly enough, we have a metric here on FanGraphs that measures only offense and credits hitters for their performances with men on base. At the risk of adding to the alphabet soup, I think it’s worth looking at this little-used metric that measures exactly what the Cabrera contingent wants us to measure.

This metric is called RE24. It’s been on the site for years, and is available as part of our Win Probability section. We don’t use it a lot, because in general we prefer to talk about players from a context-neutral perspective, but for the purpose of this discussion, it might just be the perfect metric.

RE24 is essentially the difference between the run expectancy when a hitter comes to the plate and when his at-bat ends. For example, September 16th, Cabrera came to the plate against Joe Smith with runners at first and second and two outs, a situation where the Tigers would be expected to score 0.33 runs on average. Cabrera hit a three run home run, so they actually scored three runs, and RE24 gives Cabrera credit for +2.67 runs, the gap between what they were expected to score and what they actually scored.

Unlike with context-neutral statistics like wRC+, RE24 takes the number of outs and number of baserunners into account. It does not assume that all home runs are equal, nor does it treat a strikeout with a man on third base and one out as just another out. The rewards for performing with men on base are higher, and the blame for failing in those same situations is steeper as well. This is a metric that essentially quantifies the total offensive value of a player based on the situations that he actually faced. This is not a theoretical metric. If you hit a three run home run, you get more credit than if you hit a solo home run. If you are consistently getting hits with two outs to drive in runs, you get more credit than if those hits come with no outs and the bases empty. And, of course, it’s only an offensive metric, so there’s no defensive component, no position adjustments, and no replacement level. This is just straight up offense, adjusted for the context of the situations that they faced.

Here’s the AL leaderboard for this season. If you don’t want to click the link, I’ll just reproduce the top five here.

1. Edwin Encarnacion: +55.84 runs
2. Mike Trout: +54.27
3. Prince Fielder: +50.59
4. Miguel Cabrera: +47.43
5. Josh Hamilton: 44.44

Offense only. Context Included. Trout is just barely behind Edwin Encarnacion for the league lead, and slightly ahead of Miguel Cabrera, who is actually second on on his own team.

I know these new-fangled “advanced” stats can be scary, but this isn’t some kind of black box where you just have to take our word for it. We have RE24 on each player’s Play Log, so you can see the exact amount of value that each player was credited with on every single offensive play they were involved in all year long. Here’s the top five plays from Cabrera’s play log, for instance:

9/16 vs Joe Smith, 2 on, 2 out, 3 run HR: +2.67 runs
9/18 vs Jesse Chavez, 3 on, 0 out, Grand Slam: +2.16 runs
9/29 vs Casey Fien, 2 on, 0 out, 3 run HR: +2.00 runs
4/8 vs Alfredo Aceves, 2 on, 0 out, 3 run HR: +1.99 runs
7/24 vs Joe Smith, 1 on, 2 outs, 2 run HR: +1.88 runs

There’s evidence of Cabrera’s monstrous clutch September in RE24, as his three most valuable outcomes all came in the last couple of weeks. In fact, Mike Trout only had one plate appearance all year where his RE24 was over +2 runs — a three run homer off Felix Hernandez in August — so Cabrera’s certainly had more big moments where his ability to drill the ball over the wall created runs for the Tigers offense.

So, why is Trout ahead of Cabrera? And, for that matter, why is Cabrera behind even his own teammate, Prince Fielder, as well as Encarnacion, who is not even in the MVP discussion?

It comes back to double plays. I noted a few weeks ago that Cabrera had hit into an AL leading 28 double plays. Turns out, a bunch of those were big-time rally killers. 12 of the 28 double plays Cabrera hit into lowered the run expectancy by at least one run; Trout only had two plate appearances all season where the run expectancy went down that much in a single play. Because RE24 is available for every play, and easily accessible from the play logs, it’s easy to put each player’s individual performances into groups, so we can see the distribution of their offensive events.

Player +1 and up 0 to +1 0 to -1 -1 and down
Trout 54 269 388 2
Cabrera 77 219 406 12

Cabrera had 23 more highly visible significant offensive plays that generated +1 runs or more than expected based on the situation he was placed in. Those plays are extremely valuable, and Cabrera was credited with 97 runs in those 77 plays. Meanwhile, Trout only created 66 runs in his 54 big plays, so we’re looking at a 31 run advantage for Cabrera in high visibility plays. This is what’s driving Cabrera’s narrative – everyone remembers these plays, and saw Cabrera come through in big situations more often than they saw Trout do the same.

However, Trout makes up the gap — and then some — in the other 600+ plays that matter as well. While he had 23 fewer big positive plays, he had 50 additional smaller positive plays, all of which contributed to the Angels offensive performance. He also had 28 fewer negative value plays, including 10 fewer that were extremely negative, thanks primarily to his ability to stay out of the double play.

You can go through each player’s play logs and see exactly where they earned and lost credit. There’s no replacement level here. We’re not dealing with defensive metrics that require some subjective inputs and can’t be easily replicated. This is just pure offense, and the total value of all the plays that both Trout and Cabrera were involved in.

And Trout still comes out on top. Ignore defense. Ignore things like going first to third on a single, or taking the extra base on a fly ball. Ignore WAR. Trout still wins. This is how amazing his season actually was. Even if you strip away the things that make Mike Trout special, he was still the best offensive performer in the American League this year, even while starting the season in the minors. This isn’t just the best performance of 2012 – it’s one of the best individual performances in the history of baseball.




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

463 Responses to “Trout Versus Cabrera: Offense Only, Context Included”

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  1. Will says:

    On the double play, I would think that Miguel Cabrera would have more dp play opportunities. Trout is the better player, but Miguel Cabrera is the better hitter according to wOBA when you take out sb/cs, which have nothing to do with hitting

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    • lawd says:

      I guess Dave’s going to have to come up with another metric besides wOBA for his article now…

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    • sklandog says:

      …and more opportunities to gain credit where RE24 is concerned.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      Which is exactly why we don’t use this measure. BUT, people that point this out also have to point out how much more often Cabrera will come up with runners on base in the third spot. This is the problem with these context measurements.

      But, Dave makes the argument on this field because the mainstream refuses to play on the saber field

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      • PeterC says:

        Baseball writers only comprise part of the mainstream. I think virtually all front offices use saber in their analysis these days.

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      • Chicago Mark says:

        There is more to baseball than saber. The human element will always be there. My guess is the non-saber folks (me) will be celebrating Miggy’s win today. And I’m not certain if it happens this way again in 25 years that we don’t celebrate on the triple crown winners side again. Old dogs and all.

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    • Jordan says:

      True, but if you make that argument, you can’t also use Miggy’s RBI lead over Trout as an argument in his favor.

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    • Ben Hall says:

      Are you serious? Yes, he has more double play opportunities, but those are also opportunities to drive in runs. Those opportunities can produce big swings in both directions.

      The whole point of this article was to concentrate on context, and wOBA is a context neutral.

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    • David K says:

      Why should we take out Trout’s running ability?

      One thing I was thinking about regarding RE24 is that Trout probably doesn’t get ENOUGH credit for his RE24 advantage and here’s why. Let’s say each of these two guys comes up with nobody out and nobody on and hit a single. RE24 would say the run expectancy goes up the same in both cases, does it not, because it’s based on MLB averages of the probability of scoring with a man-on-first-and-one-out situation. But we all know that with Trout on first, the probability is higher that the team will score because of his running ability. I don’t believe RE24 takes this into account at all.

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      • Phil says:

        No. But WPA does. And in this stat, Trout has a commanding lead. This is extremely impressive given that this is a cummulative (not averaging) stat and Trout played 23 fewer games.

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    • Misfit says:

      I always find it amusing how proponents of the RBI as a measurement of success tend to want to remove blame on a hitter for double plays hit into. A hitter can’t be penalized for having the misfortune of having a man on first when he grounded to second, but can be rewarded for hitting a ground ball past the second basemen when a guy just so happens to be at third base? It should go both ways, but so long as baseball writers are the ones voting on these awards, the overall narrative they create for a player will be the driving force behind who wins the MVP. And since someone decided that leading the league in batting average is superior to leading the league in OBP, or driving in the most runs is better than scoring the most, we have a triple crown of AVG/RBI/HR and a triple crown winner who will likely be voted MVP, justly or not.

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    • Wellhitball says:

      Stolen bases are a form of run production though, so it would defeat the purpose of omitting stolen bases if you are attempting to quantify run production.

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      • Wellhitball says:

        Rather, it would confound your total offensive production ability if you omit stolen bases (since it is the difference between a double and a single).

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    • AA says:

      Even if Trout was hitting behind 2-3 guys with a .400 OBP, he would still hit into less DPs than Cabrera.

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  2. Paul says:

    Enough already, please just congratulate Miggy, even if like Verlander last year it’s through gritted teeth

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    • t ball says:

      No, it’s not enough already. This kind of stuff is well worth discussing. Anything that adds to our awareness of a player’s performance and value in context is worth discussing. I don’t give a crap who wins the award, but this stuff is still interesting to discuss.

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  3. Kyle says:

    This was great. It’s amazing how many different ways there are to explain why Mike Trout was the superior player this season.

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    • Jason says:

      Trout was the superior player; that doesn’t make him MVP. This frustrates me because I agree with all Dave’s premises:

      1) The Triple Crown shouldn’t automatically lead to an MVP.
      2) The MVP can come from a non-playoff team (though it better be a rare exception; there are now TWO wild cards and the Angels didn’t get either)
      3) WAR is a decent measure of player value.

      And yet I still believe Cabrera is the MVP. The award isn’t, and ought not be, for the player with the most WAR. “Replacement level” in the abstract is a necessity. In a head-to-head, single-season debate, the quality of the actual replacements is meaningful.

      Also, shouldn’t September performance be more highly leveraged than June performance, in the same way that we more highly leverage the ninth inning than the third? Dave’s RC24 work is revealing on that account.

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      • Jason says:

        I should clarify – September performance IN A PENNANT RACE should be highly leveraged. The ninth inning of a 12-1 blowout is, of course, low-leverage; the ninth inning of a one-run game is high-leverage. If Cabrera (or Cano) had had just as good of a run, but for the Royals, it would be irrelevant for the MVP debate.

        Yes, every game is an independent event, but so too is every inning. It’s not like runs in innings 1-3 only count for half, but we still recognize the concept of leverage.

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      • Rick says:

        The idea of the hot September while in a pennant race is probably the best argument I’ve seen for Cabrera as MVP. I do believe that he is the better hitter overall and did a terrific job in his role as a heart-of-the-order guy. I just see him as one-dimensional no matter how great he is at that one dimension. The only Angels game I saw this year, Trout walked, stole 2nd, went to 3rd on an error, and then scored on a ground ball. He put up a run for his team without even getting a hit, something that Miggy could never do. It makes it one hell of a debate. Without a doubt, Trout is the better ballplayer and allows you to do more as a team, he’ll score more runs and still be capable of hitting them in as this article showed. Miggy is just a fine hitter and that’s it, no more no less. You’ve got two guys who did their jobs better than anybody else, and that makes it a tough choice.

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      • Lan says:

        It’s worth noting that the Angels won more games than Detroit, and if they were in the same division they would be going to the playoffs. Not to mention that against the weaker competition, Trout would have put up even bigger numbers. And if Trout played in Detroit he would have put up better numbers as well (Comerica was much more hitter friendly this year than Angels Stadium).

        The Tigers are 7th out of 14 teams in the AL. They don’t really deserve a playoff spot this year, they just got lucky to be in a bad division.

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      • Jason says:

        (Replying to Lan)

        The Angels also finished THIRD in their own division. You’re being crazy to glibly assume that “they would have won the AL Central.”

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      • Lan says:

        How is it crazy given the evidence? Angels more wins in actual season than Tigers. Angels played more games against better teams than the Tigers. So even if you don’t adjust their record for playing different teams and just reclassify them as being in the Central division they win.

        That’s not crazy, that’s applying reason and evidence to a situation in order to project what would have happened. Are you saying the Angels would have done worse in that division and thus not beat the Tigers? If so what evidence would make you think that?

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      • BJsGuess says:

        I just don’t get people like Jason.

        The Angels needed Trout in May/June/July/August. The team was going nowhere. Their “September” was really June. That was do or die for the team. If Trout wasn’t a monster then the games in September would have been meaningless. A win is a win regardless of when it occurs in the season. 5 more wins in May and they would be a playoff team despite their September.

        As Lan pointed out you would be hard pressed to make a good argument that the Tigers are better than the Angels. Weaker division, worse record, worse run differential, etc, etc. The Tigers were simply a product of playing in a piss poor division. So Cabrera ends up winning the MVP because he plays in the worst division in the AL and wins by a fractional amount in the only categories that count in the Triple Crown. That is such a stretch to justify giving him hardware.

        And to all those who are still arguing that Cabrera is the better offensive player … how? How can you be on this site, reading these articles and still conclude that. I swear Dave and crew must be beating their heads against the wall trying to get you to stop staring at freaking RBI’s. There are only so many ways to show that Trout is the superior offensive player and, by leaps and bounds, the superior overall player. There’s no shame in losing to a guy who missed a month of baseball and still smoked the entire league by nearly 2.5 wins.

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      • chief00 says:

        Boy, the high leverage Sept argument is tough to sustain. Against ‘good’ teams (CWS; LAA; OAK) in Aug/Sept/Oct, DET was 7-6, which is slightly below their season winning percentage. It’s worthwhile to note that the CWS were in a freefall, having played .400 ball from Aug 27 onward.

        In the same time frame, DET was 12-7 against KC, MIN, and CLE. In other words, 19 of his final 32 games came against three of the worst teams in the AL.

        We’d expect Cabrera to excel offensively against such opponents, so his RE24 and wRC+ exceed Trout’s for Sept/Oct. But the leverage was pretty low for Cabrera, don’t you think?

        By the same token, the quality of Trout’s opponents was higher (6 vs. TEX; 7 vs. OAK; 9 vs. SEA; 3 vs. DET; 3 vs. KC; 3 vs CWS) and he, like Cabrera, was in a fight for the playoffs. Trout was worth more WAR (1.8-1.5) in the same time period.

        You can divide this twelve ways to Sunday (DET vs. div; DET vs. non-div.; DET vs. good teams; DET vs. bad teams), and Cabrera will look good offensively. But the reality is that Trout was more valuable because he had significantly greater value across the board than Cabrera did.

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      • tigerdog says:

        One of the problems with just counting runs, or even just counting wins, is the assumption that follows. You can not assume that the player with the higher total of runs created, or runs created vs run expectancy, or even wins resulting from runs created, is the most valuable player. At the very most, you might be able to deduct that a player produced more wins for his team.

        I have no problem with using wOBA or wRC to show what a player would have contributed in a context neutral situation. But that does not equate to value to his team.

        Run expectancy is again measuring a player’s value by a hypothetical standard value for each plate appearance. That’s a number that never actually happened.

        I appreciate the brilliance of saber stats, and I have no doubt that the world of baseball stats are in the middle of a revolution. Even members of the MSM who criticize these new metrics will one day pick them up and use them to make their point one day.

        But all runs are not created equal, nor are all wins worth the same value. I don’t think it’s a requirement that a team make the playoffs for one of their players to be the MVP, but neither can I accept that a player whose contribution pushes his team into the post season vs a player whose contribution helps his team to third place should be completely ignored. It’s worth something. Traditionally to MVP voters of the BBWAA, it’s worth a lot.

        What is value to a team? Making the post season is the ultimate value. In one sense, it’s the only thing that matters. The Detroit organization, team, and fans have derived more value from Cabrera’s contribution than the Angels have derived from Trout.

        FWIW- I said the same thing to Tiger fans in 2010 when there was a discussion of Hamilton vs Cabrera.

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      • AA says:

        The Angels played in the hardest division in baseball.

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      • tigerdog says:

        “The Angels played in the hardest division in baseball.”

        Doesn’t look that way in the playoff thus far.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        It seems like people that support Cabrera basically use the argument of everything BUT what Cabrera actually did. Whether it’s RBIs, selecting a few stats, saying that his team made the playoffs (in an inferior division) or that he played better down the stretch (games count the same, again, something not wholly under their control).

        Just doesn’t make any sense. If you applied this logic when evaluating talent on the job, you’d probaby be fired. Makes about as much sense as “no, you don’t get a job, you’re a woman, can’t really control that, but you did a better job but still, you’re a woman”.

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      • tigerdog says:

        No, if your team makes the playoffs, you generally don’t get fired. The one thing that provides actual value is completely discounted by Trout supporters. Doesn’t have to be a prerequisite, but it counts for something.

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      • Wellhitball says:

        The angels still performed better than the tigers in a stronger division. Cetirus Paribus, if divisions and leagues were abolished, the Angels would have made the playoffs.

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  4. Brendan B. says:

    What I learned here: Don’t let Joe Smith face Miguel Cabrera with runners on base.

    Also, another great case for Mike Trout that will likely be ignored by the TRIPLE CROWN (!!!!) crowd.

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  5. Paul says:

    And the argument for Miggy is hitting based and narrative, not ‘offensive’ wher Trout gets credit for his speed, SB, or by being fast so he doesn’t get GIDP. In fact Trouts speed gets counted again and again and again in his WAR

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    • Andrew says:

      Thank you!
      Everyone on here seems to think that Cabrera supporters are all knuckle dragging pre-historic men who look at arbitrary numbers that were important to people in the “dark ages” and now that we’re in the “enlightended age” of advanced metrics anyone who supports a player like Cabrera has no idea what they’re talking about.

      To say Trout had the better season because he’s a lot faster than Miggy, and doesn’t hit into double plays, gets 21 Infield hits, can steal bases without getting caught, and can use that speed again in his defense, that’s giving credit for the same attribute over and over again.

      Also another article that touches the Double Play issue but mentions nothing about the k% difference between the two of them that when combined with the GIDP #’s basically negate the entire arguement even counting the GIDP’s for Miggy as two outs!

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      • Gary York says:

        Applying the same positive attribute over and over means more wins, it isn’t some kind of statistical redundancy. To put it another way: if you only give Trout one speed credit for his 21 infield hits, then why not give Cabrera only one power credit for his 44 home runs? That would be logically consistent, but also wrong.

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      • sklandog says:

        Nobody’s trying to measure speed. They’re measuring the outcomes of his performance and happen to attribute some of it to speed. Gary summed this up well.

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      • TheoK says:

        Well he does all that, and he hits 30 HRs with a .399 OBP.

        Whereas Miggy has zero speed and defensive ability, Trout still has a lot of power.

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      • sklandog says:

        Not to beat your post into the ground, Andrew, but I would think most contributors here believe Miggy is a fantastic baseball player. They just see that where all-around performance in 2012 is concerned, Trout has been better. Using metrics to come to that conclusion hardly seems like an unworthy exercise any more than you’d want your doctor to use a Magic 8-Ball to make a diagnosis. Use the best tool for the job.

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      • Andrew says:

        All I am trying to state is the advanced metrics we use are flawed, just as the old school style of evaluating players on arbitrary numbers are. There is no perfect way to evaluate who was the most valuable, or even to define what most valuable even means. Who cares who wins? We got to see two amazing players play the game completely different ways and excel. It made for incredible numbers and a great MVP debate.

        I personally don’t care who wins, I believe Cabrera wins. I just want to be on here do have open discussions about the processes in which we evaluate players in order to further the metric we use. I learn more everyday about ways to evaluate and interpret.

        What does get frustrating is the “stat-geeks” and the “old-school” both view each other as being stubborn. The whole thing is funny to me.

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        So, because Carbera’s power leads to extra base hits, we shouldn’t count doubles, triples, AND homeruns because we’re then counting his power OVER and OVER again!

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      • Benjamin says:

        “mentions nothing about the k% difference between the two of them”

        because it’s not much of a factor in terms of value to your team. an out is an out, for the most part. in fact, if a handful of miggy’s GIDPs were Ks instead, he would have been more valuable to his team.

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      • John H says:

        Trout gets credit for his speed over and over again because it affects the game over and over again. I’m pretty sure Miggy is getting credit for his ability to hit the ball really hard and really far over and over again with his RBI, homeruns, and avg. all of which are affected by the same skill.

        Cabrera had a great season, Trout did as well. Trout had one of the great seasons in baseball history. He’s the MVP.

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      • Seitz says:

        Likewise, it’s completely unfair to say that Kareem Abdul Jabbar was a better player than Mugsy Bogues, because he gets too much credit for being tall. It shows up in his shooting percentage, points, shot blocking, and rebounds! That’s getting credit for the same attribute over and over again!

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      • Phil says:

        I’m a lifelong Tiger fan, and therefor a Miggy fan….and I hope he wins the MVP. But Trout deserves it. To address your specific comment: 1 double play is actually more damaging statistically than 2 strikeouts. Why? Pretty simple. Every time a double play happens, 2 outs get created……..but, importantly, these outs are created with at least one base occupied–often times more than one base. Moreover, 50% of the time, a GIDP ends an inning. Runs can’t get scored when an inning is over. K’s end an inning only 33% of the time. Also, a significant number of K’s occur with no runners on base, where the K’s impact is less damaging. This is even more the case for a leadoff batter like Trout. To summarize…..GIDPs are the baseball equivalent of a nearly fatal gunshot wound. K’s are not good….it is always better to put the ball in play (you might induce and error, advance a runner or get a sac fly). But K’s are, statistically, nearly equivalent to any other form of out. So, you are wrong to say that the K differential negates Mig’s GIDP numbs. They simply don’t. This is a big chink in the armor for Miggy’s MVP candidacy. And as this author points out, this discussion excludes giving any credit to Trout for his defense. If credit were granted, the gap would be even bigger.

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      • Wellhitball says:

        He gets credit for the attribute again and again because that attribute is multi-faceted, provided that he is skilled enough to use it to his advantage.

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    • I Agree Guy says:

      Well, speed impacts multiple facets of the game, should it not then be credited multiple times?

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      • Desertfox says:

        That’s what I was thinking…

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      • Andrew says:

        I agree that it should be a large factor in the game and in our evaluations of the individual players. But the speed factor for Trout Vs Cabrera is off the charts lop sided, and to continually state that Trout is head and shoulders above Cabrera, without indicating that the only reason he is above is due to his speed in every aspect of the game.

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      • indyralph says:

        I believe you are arguing that a lopsided advantage in favor of Trout should not count because it is a lopsided advantage.

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      • Andrew says:

        I’ve thought about this a bit.
        Yes, it should count multiple times. No, it should not be counted multiple times for the same facet of the game. wOBA counts SB, as do the baserunning stats that are constantly pointed to, and the actual SB numbers that are used to show the disadvantage Cabrera had in the “arbitrary counting stats”. Speed in terms of infield hits is factored into BABIP, thus AVG, OBP, OPS, wRC and GIDP #’s.

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      • todmod says:

        This is a very weird argument. The next 3 leaders in the MLB in stolen bases after Trout were Rajai Davis, Everth Cabrera, and Michael Bourn.

        Their RE24?

        Davis – (-9.02)
        Cabrera – (-5.07)
        Bourn – 23.10

        These guys aren’t getting some huge boost in the stat from their speed. Trout isn’t getting some magical speed advantage; he’s a fantastic hitter whose speed augments his abilities.

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      • Terence says:

        BsR on this site does not include SB/CS. It is currently advancement on other’s base hits only. Trout gets credit for advancing extra bases. Trout gets credit for stealing extra bases. Trout gets credit for getting base hits (some of which are of the infeild variety.) Trout gets credit for playing spectacular defense. It’s almost like fast athletic baseball players are more valuable than slow unathletic players. This is not fair.

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      • jim says:

        fangraphs baserunning stat UBR does not include SB/CS, precisely because wOBA already does

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      • David K says:

        I posted this reply to someone else but I think it’s fitting here to give one explanation of how RE24 actually hurts speed guys. Let’s say each of these two guys comes up with nobody out and nobody on and hit a single. RE24 would say the run expectancy goes up the same in both cases, does it not, because it’s based on MLB averages of the probability of scoring with a man-on-first-and-one-out situation. But we all know that with Trout on first, the probability is higher that the team will score because of his running ability. I don’t believe RE24 takes this into account at all.

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      • Mike says:

        Yeah, and I think people are getting hung up on the idea about counting the same attribute over and over again. This analysis is not measuring attributes. It’s measuring individual events and the effects of those events, and in sum the effects of Trouts events were better. If you want to say speed was counted more times, fine, but what that’s really telling us is that speed influenced the game more times, so it was accounted for proportional to its effect. I don’t really even like the idea of boiling this debate down to speed vs power though, because when we are talking about attributes like speed and power, we are trying to create simple constructs to explain data that probably has more than two dimensions. Furthermore, a single event isn’t necessarily defined by just one attribute. For example, a double can be the result of speed, power or a mix of both. So the bottom line is, don’t worry, about attributes. If you’re going to interpret a WPA analysis, just do what WPA intends and compare outcomes. The attributes are latent and irrelevant.

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    • JCA says:

      yes, and height counts towards how good a basketball player you are. Speed is relevant to how valuable your offense performance has been.

      Seriously, in basketball the traditional triple double is points, rebounds, and assists. Occasionally though, a triple double is points, assists and steals. Had baseball defined the triple crown in terms of what a player does, and put SBs in the concept instead of RBIs, there would be no debate.

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  6. Mark says:

    But Triple Crown. Right?

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  7. David says:

    What happens if a runner steals a base or is caught stealing during an at-bat? Cabrera steps up with a runner on first, 1 out, and now has bases empty, 2 outs. I am assuming his RE is based off the latter for the purposes of that plate appearance. Correct?

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    • DD says:

      Based off how his at bat ends.

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    • Corey says:

      Good point, this article uses an interesting stat, but I don’t think it explains some important mechanics of that stat. I would sure hope that a player doesn’t get blamed for his teammate getting caught stealing, but I can see how he might. This needs an answer if for no other reason than so that we can understand the stat.

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    • sklandog says:

      A PA doesn’t count as a PA if a runner makes the final out of the inning by getting picked off/CS. Right? From a counting perspective, I believe the PA doesn’t count (“I believe” being the key identifier that I’m not sure).

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  8. beelza says:

    I respect the data, research. How many different ways will fangraphs show Cabrera being unworthy of the mvp. Last year, Verlander was also unworthy of the mvp, right fangraphs. This has devolved into clown journalism.

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  9. Nate says:

    It’s sad to me that the MVP award will go to Cabrera. He had a great, great season, but I don’t think he was the league’s most valuable player. I think there’s next to zero chance Trout gets the award this year.

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    • drewcorb says:

      I think it’s clear Trout is the right choice for the award this year. However, Cabrera’s season is still really good, and even if they are arbitrary stats, leading the league in AVG, HR, and RBI is (in my opinion) amazing. So it’s not sad to me at all that Cabrera will probably win, even though I think he is clearly the wrong choice. It’s not like it’s going to Josh Hamilton or someone else with just good overall numbers and a nice narrative. If not Trout, let it be Cabrera.

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  10. Spike says:

    to me, any analysis that doesn’t include that Cabrera faced the worst pitching in the AL in almost half his games is just incomplete. The Twins, Tribe, Royals & White Sox were 14th, 13th, 10th & 9th worst ERAs in the AL… that’s 4 of the 6 worst staffs.

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    • ben says:

      Thats funny because the typical response around here is “LOL ERA”

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      • jim says:

        1400 innings is a plenty good sample size for ERA

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      • FormerMeatman says:

        Not only are there a lot of innings, but also the other thing we like to take out of ERA for valuation is defense. We don’t want to take out defense in this case because that is precisely who Cabrera is facing: pitching + defense.

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    • cs3 says:

      yes, but part of the reason they were so bad is becasue Cabrera beat up on them all year.

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      • williams .482 says:

        true, but not a very large part. you can only do so much relative dammage in ~0.8% of a pitching staff’s opponent PA.

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  11. josh m says:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=al&qual=y&type=3&season=2012&month=9&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

    Sept/october shows miggy ahead of trout by a sizeable margin, while my guy Adrian beltre is 3rd behind two non-contenders.

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  12. Miguel Arias says:

    Just vote Cano. Haha.

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  13. James says:

    I feel like the entire sabermetric community is convinced that they will keel over dead if Miguel Cabrera is awarded the MVP. “At this point, both sides are basically just yelling at each other, and no one is changing their minds.” Including on this website, unfortunately… Yes, Trout has had the better season, but it would be cool if there were at least a post for those of us who like both players acknowledging, “Hey, guys, Miguel Cabrera’s actually pretty good! He just accomplished something that hasn’t been done in over 40 years! This 2 paragraph post celebrates that!”

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  14. Graham says:

    Kind of interesting, Miggy is the first triple crown winner in the modern era to have an OBP under .400– Trout’s was higher (among others).

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  15. Cus says:

    It is hard to ignore the fact that this being Trout’s rookie season means that no matter what, voters know both Miggy and Trout will get awards if they vote for Miggy as MVP. No one has their feelings hurt! YAY!

    Many will run with the rationale that Trout has his whole career to win it, while Miggy has been so good, and so close before. It’s like when a veteran actor wins an Oscar over an ingenue with a breakout performance. Suck, but happens, and will happen here.

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  16. Nick S. says:

    The triple crown is overrated in a statistical sense, but truly a rare feet. WAR, is overrated in the sense that it is so highly coveted by those who want to sound analytical. WAR does not include every variable such as in Cabrera’s case. Smarts on the base paths do count for something in baseball, but not in a WAR calculation. Swiching back to a position you played earlier in your career while many fans and sportswriters are predicting your demise would factor in as an excuse for a down year offensively for many players who struggle in similar cases. Cabrera’s preparation for this season centered around losing weight and fielding from third. MLB scouts have had years to evaluate Cabrera’s weaknesses as a hitter. Trout’s weaknesses were not only a relative unknown, but less of a concern for management who had other Angels hitters to concern themselves with.

    You can make a great case for Trout. Don’t get me wrong here. I watched both play a lot this season and have truly enjoyed both talents. I just have an issue with the idea that a formula has more value than what I saw with my own eyes. Cabrera was a solid contributor this season on many levels.

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    • Nate says:

      You’re going to use “Smarts on the base paths” as part of your argument for Cabrera over Trout?

      +25 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TKDC says:

        And they do count in WAR. Double negative, so Nick is right. Victory for Nick, Miggy, and Science. The true Triple Crown!

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    • Baltar says:

      You did an excellent job of repeating all the tired, old, wrong-headed arguments for Cabrera, including the narrative about going back to his old position for the team.
      Dave Cameron should thank you.

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    • Michael says:

      If you were talking about Pitching or a Catcher’s Defense then you’d be right.

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    • sklandog says:

      I think “Nick S.” is shorthand for a Dave Cameron-created stick man.

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    • Matt Hunter says:

      “Smarts on the basepaths” – Covered in the baserunning aspect of WAR.

      Switching positions – Cabrera gets rewarded for this in Pos+Fld aspect of WAR.

      Preparation in the offseason – Definitely covered in batting and fielding aspects of WAR.

      As far as seeing with your own eyes – did you watch every one of both Cabrera’s and Trout’s plate appearances, as well as every one of their plays on the field? Probably not, and even if you did, you probably only remember a handful of them. The WAR formula doesn’t have value, it measures the value of things that happen. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot more reliable than the human brain.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        Nick is clearly saying that Cabrera’s preparation in the offseason negatively affected his hitting because he had to focus almost exclusively on slimming down in order to play third base.

        It’s not like the way he said it was at all ambiguous, either. It isn’t like you need to resort to being disingenuous to discredit his argument, anyway.

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      • Blue says:

        You mean the baserunning kludge that just got added and changed all the “historical WAR” calculations? This is not a point in your favor.

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      • BVHeck says:

        How much is getting hit in the face by a groundball worth?

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    • El Vigilante says:

      Why should others trust your eyes? Is that a consistent measure? This is a big selling point of WAR. Dont like bWAR or fWAR? Fine. Create your own way of measuring. But make it consistenent. You have to live with the results – all of them.

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      • deadhead says:

        Valuing WAR requires trusting other’s eyes. Or do you do your own defensive metrics at home?

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      • El Vigilante says:

        Wisdom of the crowds. Tango does a fan scouting report. This is trusting a collection of eyes, not one individual’s opinions. My eyes are full of biases. Despite the amount of baseball I watch, it will always be insufficient, and will never be consistent.

        I do have my own WAR. But of course I don’t have my own defensive rating since that is the exact thing I am arguing against. Changing the weight of the input is not the same as fabricating some score. I am arguing against inconsistensies. Accepted defensive ratings have a formula.

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      • Dan says:

        Deadhead, this came up on an ESPN message board. People actually thought that the defensive metric in WAR was calculated by someone watching the players and making an evaluation. It is not.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      WAR does reward smarts on the basepaths, or at least tries to. That’s what the BsR column means.

      You should probably just crawl under a rock somewhere.

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  17. MikeS says:

    The triple crown argument is silly. If Trout gets three more hits, no triple crown. If Granderson or Hamilton hit 2 more HR, no triple crown.

    Same for the playoff argument. If the White Sox end the year 8 and 7 instead of 5 and 11, then Cabrera didn’t help his team into the playoffs.

    Under which of those scenarios is he less valuable?

    It is fairly clear to anybody not blinded by ave/hr/rbi that the AL player most valuable to his team this year played CF for the Angels.

    +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Spike says:

      right. it’s merely a statistical anomaly tied to stats which were more important in a prior era. Heck 40-40 is probably a better accomplishment.

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    • Andrew says:

      Congratulations on explaining how sports work. You deserve an award too.

      If only the Titans got one more yard, they would have beaten the Rams in the Super Bowl. But they didn’t. So it goes.

      Trout had a better overall year, and Cabrera was amazing again. Life goes on.

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      • jauer says:

        You seem like a fun person

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      • MikeS says:

        No. You miss the point. If Cabrera has the exact same year and the Tigers have the exact same year but a few irrelevant things totally out of his or their control break differently then Cabrera still had a great year and the Tigers still underperformed, but the arguments for him seem to be centered around the triple crown and the Angels missing the playoffs while the Tigers made it. I am simply pointing out how if those two things don’t happen, there isn’t even a discussion. If, say, Edwin Encarnacion hits 50 home runs Cabrera is still just as good and valuable but nobody is arguing for him to win the MVP.

        You can’t make any of those arguments for Trout. He was the best base runner in the AL, the 5th best defender and the best offensive player by wOBA and wRC+. All Cabrera has is that he was the second best offensive player by those measures. He was bad defensively and a below average base runner so he can’t fall back on that. Winning the triple crown does not automatically equal MVP and missing the playoffs does not make you ineligible for it. To pretend otherwise is just silly.

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      • Kurt Warner says:

        Ahem, overtime…

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      His point is that judging numbers in relation to the numbers of other players is not such an absolute as most people are treating it. I thought it was a good point.

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  18. ralph says:

    I personally would vote for Trout for MVP. But it is fun to try to construct a rational case for Cabrera as MVP.

    The easiest way to do this is acknowledge that quite literally, Cabrera’s move to 3B gained the Tigers an additional 5 WAR because that allowed them to sign Fielder. So because there was the unique situation of the Tigers scrambling to replace V-Mart, Cabrera really was able to be responsible for about 12 WAR owing to his direct actions.

    Trout replaced Vernon Wells to a large extent of course. But it is a slightly different circumstance since it was completely the Angels decision, while Cabrera actually took action to move to 3B to allow Fielder to sign on. Still, even giving Trout extra credit for the gap between him and Wells also turns Trout into a virtual 12 WAR or so player, assuming Wells would have been -2 WAR for the year.

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    • Michael says:

      Trout replaced Bourjos in the grand scheme of things.

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      • ralph says:

        That’s actually an interesting question. Bourjos got off to such an awful start, and Trumbo got off to such a hot start with the bat, and cold start with the glove at 3B, that Hunter and Trumbo became locked-in at the corner OF spots pretty quickly, leaving CF as a toss-up between Bourjos and Wells.

        I didn’t follow the Angels super-closely, but my perception is that Scioscia was giving more playing time to Wells than Bourjos whenever a spot opened up. But if Trout really was mostly replacing Bourjos, that probably makes an even stronger case for Cabrera by this measure since Bourjos’ defense would make it hard for him to drop to negative WAR over a full season. (Not that I love this measure, but I do think it’s rational despite the complaints below.)

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    • Baltar says:

      I think that word “rational” does not mean what you think it means.

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      • ralph says:

        I mean, yeah, that’s the kneejerk response.

        But it’s undeniable that Cabrera’s “actual value of a player to his team” includes the signing of Fielder and the resulting lack of playing time of Inge and other scrubs.

        Whether the MVP framework should be expanded to include ancillary effects like this is debatable, but at least it’s a rational framework. But as I noted above, if pressed, I’d ultimately choose the framework that doesn’t involve a complicated, but objective-as-possible, evaluation of ripple effects.

        That doesn’t mean the complicated ripple effect model isn’t rational, though.

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      • todmod says:

        Saying something is undeniable doesn’t make it so.

        The argument is crazy. The Tigers could sign Fielder even if Cabrera didn’t move to 3rd (and in fact, they did before confirming the position change).

        Fielder could have played DH, or Cabrera/Fielder could have split DH at bats. It’s not like the Tigers had a great DH this year. They didn’t need Cabrera’s approval to sign Fielder.

        But if you want to go further down this rabbit hole, Cabrera made $21 mil this year. Trout made under $500k. By making less money, Trout let his team add Albert Pujols. Cabrera made his team take on extra payroll. That’s far more of a direct effect than some mythical “permission slip.”

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      • ralph says:

        Nope:

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7502736/miguel-cabrera-detroit-tigers-move-third-base-prince-fielder

        Which says “MLB.com, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Tigers agreed to sign the former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman only after they talked to Cabrera first and received his approval.”

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      • ralph says:

        And I agree that WAR/$ is yet another rational framework.

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      • ralph says:

        To clarify, I agree that in theory the Tigers could have just signed Fielder and told both of them that they’ll play some combination of 1B and DH, and only that.

        But as that article shows, to our best knowledge, Cabrera had the final veto power on the signing, which does make him one of the people directly responsible for Fielder’s 5 WAR being credited to the Tigers. If you don’t believe the anonymous source, then fine, it’s deniable. But that’s a subjective judgment in itself. As I’ve said below, it’s quite possibly a unique situation.

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    • DowntownChico says:

      Stop it. You just said Miguel Cabrera is directly responsible for Prince Fielders 5 WAR this season. Did he swing the bat for Fielder?

      Line-up cards are filled out by coaches, not players.

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      • ralph says:

        He’s directly responsible for Prince Fielder’s 5 WAR being credited to the Tigers, since he pretty much had veto power over the signing from what I understand.

        And it was reasonable to expect around 5 WAR from Fielder, so the main question was who he’d contribute the 5 WAR to.

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      • DowntownChico says:

        First, cite sources please. I had no idea Cabrera was the Owner, GM, and Coach of the Tigers.

        Second, the 5 WAR is contributed to Prince Fielder. The 5 WAR was earned by Fielder, and by Fielder alone. To give any of that WAR to anyone else, is to discredit Fielder’s production.

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      • ralph says:

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7502736/miguel-cabrera-detroit-tigers-move-third-base-prince-fielder

        Which says “MLB.com, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Tigers agreed to sign the former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman only after they talked to Cabrera first and received his approval.”

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      • placidity says:

        Maybe Prince Fielder gets 12 WAR for pushing Miggy off of 1st base. He could’ve signed anywhere, but because he signed with the Tigers, they got him as a first baseman AND they got a great ‘new’ 3rd baseman.

        Prince for MVP!

        +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DowntownChico says:

        ralph, thank you for the source.

        However, I’ve heard the accomodation argument, and fail to see how it plays a roll in the MVP race. Furthermore, I see no way one can credit Cabrera for Fielder’s achievments.

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      • ralph says:

        The rest of your complaints boil down to whether you think Cabrera’s approval for signing Fielder could be rationally considered as part of Cabrera’s actual value to the Tiger organization.

        I think there’s a pretty straightforward cause-and-effect there, which is why I think it’s a rational framework for MVP consideration.

        That said, if one’s preference is to look only at what’s on a player’s FanGraphs value section for the season, I agree that’s also a rational framework.

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      • seb says:

        Miggy for MVP and GM of the year!

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    • TheUncool says:

      Maybe what you want is to give Miggy a “finder’s fee” of sorts for that, but nobody pays 100% for such when buying homes or anything else for that matter, so why would you credit +5 WAR to Miggy for this???

      Let’s say you want to give a generous 10% fee for it, but that only adds +0.5 WAR, not +5 WAR.

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      • ralph says:

        Perhaps. My original post hasn’t been downrated enough to actually see how many people have downrated, so that’s something.

        Cabrera being asked for approval and making a position change is very rare situation, possibly unique.

        Lest people think players have no power in this situation, there’s always the A-Rod/Jeter thing. I think most people agreed at the time of the trade it would have been in the Yankees’ best interest to make A-Rod the SS. And yet that’s obviously not happened.

        Michael Young’s presumed insistence on playing time probably cost the Rangers the division.

        These are real, tangible, aspects of a player’s value to a team. To declare such considerations off-limits in discussion of MVP seems inflexible, at best.

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      • Bob Zaffrann says:

        Even accepting your rubric for purposes of argument, wouldn’t the change be the difference in WAR between Fielder and whoever was going to play first for the Tigers if he didn’t sign? And wouldn’t it also have to subtract out the net WAR the Tigers would have gained from other players the Tigers might have signed with the money they spent on Fielder? And since all of that is speculative, isn’t the whole conversation not worth having?

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @Bob

        It would be the difference between Fielder and Don Kelly or Brandon Inge, the guys who would have played third this season.

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      • ralph says:

        Exactly YFIB — the other aspect is how late Victor Martinez was injured.

        Here’s a list of 2012 offseason transactions: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/news/hot_stove/y2011/free_agent_tracker.jsp?fastatus=signed&subscope=pos&teamPosCode=all&sortbystat=SIGNED

        After Fielder signed on 1/26/12, I don’t see another guy expected be a really good player they could have signed instead. Ruggiano turned out to be pretty good this year, but I certainly don’t remember hearing any loud demands for teams to be signing him. Cespedes of course wasn’t eligible for a while thereafter and the Tigers clearly didn’t want to wait to see if they could land him when he was eligible.

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      • ralph says:

        Looking a little further at the list, there were a couple other mildly-intriguing guy signed after the V-Mart mid-January injury — Carlos Pena and Cody Ross. But it’s hard to imagine Cabrera moving to 3B or DH to make room for either of them.

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    • Travis L says:

      Of course, Cabrera would also have allowed the deal to happen if he had been their DH and they used a replacement level 3b rather than replacement level DH.

      So would one give him as much credit for moving to DH?

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      • ralph says:

        It’s not so clear that Cabrera would have allowed the deal to happen if Cabrera had to DH. I think DHing would actually have been a bigger sacrifice for Cabrera. Honestly, I’m not sure Cabrera himself though moving to 3B was a sacrifice in any way.

        But moving to DH costs him about a win in total defensive value, plus there’s the likely DH penalty on hitting as well…. meaning that yes, since it’d actually be a bigger sacrifice for Cabrera to DH, I’d find it eve more valid to credit him with not vetoing the Fielder signing.

        But even with that Fielder credit applied, Cabrera would probably have pretty much the same effective WAR as Trout, which I think would make Trout the clear MVP even by this framework. That’s how good Trout was this year.

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      • rea says:

        The actual relevant difference would be between the Tigers with Fielder at 1B, Cabrera at 3B, and Delmon Young at DH (what actually happened) and the Tigers with Cabrera at 1B, Fielder at DH (assuming he would have signed to be a DH) and somebody like Don Kelly or Ryan Raburn at 3B. Despite Delmon’s obvious flaws, the Tigers are a significantly better team with Cabrera at 3B, given the alternative.

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    • Lan says:

      If they didn’t sign Prince Fielder, they could have gone after Aramis Ramirez or Reyes. Who put up 6.2 WAR and 4.2 WAR. It was not a Prince Fielder or nobody proposition.

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      • ralph says:

        I agree they both would have better bargains and better fits for the Tigers. Absolutely the Tigers should have signed either or both prior to Victor Martinez being injured.

        But Ramirez signed with the Brewers on (about) December 12. Reyes signed with the Marlins on (about) December 4. Fielder signed with the Tigers on (about) January 24, only because Martinez injured his knee on (about) January 17 with Cabrera agreeing to move to 3B and declining his veto power regarding signing Fielder.

        The point is that this method is one of at least a few possible rational frameworks for valuing Cabrera, not the only method. And yes, Cabrera benefits from this method because it’s quite possibly a unique situation.

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  19. Mike Trout says:

    Just imagine if I won the triple crown instead of Cabrera.

    Keith Law would call it the greatest achievement in professional sports history!

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  20. DD says:

    Dave: This stat does not satisfy the “his team made the playoffs!” crowd, as it measures player impact but not the effect it had on the team’s chances of winning. However, the response of “the Angels won more games in a better division” should suffice. That said, I think this is a fair way to judge MVP value from PAs.

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    • tigerdog says:

      No, winning games that help the team finish third don’t compensate for Cabrera’s team making the playoffs, in great part due to his contribution.

      Value to a team is measured by what the team accomplished as a result of that player’s contribution. Players have had the best seasons and not won the MVP award many times when their teams didn’t advance to the post season.

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  21. Fatalotti says:

    Trout: 171 OPS+, 175 wRC+
    Cabrera: 166 OPS+, 166 WRC+

    So Trout was actually the better hitter, when you adjust for park factors.

    Trout: 182 runs created (runs + RBI – HR)
    Cabrera: 204 runs created (in 58 extra PA)

    Cabrera had 697 PA and created 204 runs. Trout was on pace to create 199 runs if he had gotten to 697 PA.

    Trout: 49 SB against 5 CS
    Cabrera: 4 SB against 1 CS

    And, of course, there is no question that Trout was one of the best defensive OF in baseball this year, while playing a great deal of time at CF (885.2 of his 1225.2 defensive innings were in CF), while Cabrera was, at the absolute best, an average (and by most accounts, poor) defensive player at 3B, which is a less important position than CF.

    Look, if Miggy wins, whatever. He won the Triple Crown this year, and is a phenomenal player. But Trout had an otherworldly season, and there just isn’t a legitimate argument to made that Cabrera was in any way better than Trout this year. Trout was a slightly better offensive player, a worlds better baserunner and a much better defender at a much more important and difficult position.

    Case closed.

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    • Front Row says:

      wRC+ factors more than hitting.

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      • Fatalotti says:

        Good point. It accounts for SB/CS, as well. Still, even the “imperfect” measure of OPS+ (which would be trusted more by traditionalists) still lists Trout as the better offensive player.

        Anyway you slice it, man.

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    • Gary York says:

      The defect in runs created is this: if you hit a home run you are given credit for only 1 run created. If you hit a single and drive in a run and then later score, you are given credit for 2 runs created. I’m not sure why you should penalize a guy who hits a home run, or alternatively, I’m not sure why you should give a 1 run bonus to the guy who hits a single and later scores.

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      • KG says:

        Gary, you’re looking at 1 run (HR) versus two runs (1B/RBI, then R). Simple as that.

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      • Gary York says:

        Not quite that simple. The person who scores from, say, third, is knocked in by another player. Ignore the fact that the person who scores already has a point for knocking in a run. He gets a point for scoring the run. The person who knocks him in gets a point for driving him in. 2 points (one each for hitter and runner), 1 run. Other than scoring via error, stolen base or dp (where the hitter isn’t given credit for an rbi) this particular measure is based on run scored plus rbi. Every run scored is worth two points or multiple thereof except for a home run event.

        Put it this way: a batter who hits a bases loaded triple gets three points and each of the runners gets one point. If he then scores he gets another point and the next batter gets a point for driving him in. Total equals 8 points. However, if a batter hits a grand slam the event is only worth 7 points, because you subtract the run scored for the hitter.

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      CF has the same positional adjustment as 3B.

      I feel like a broken record…like a broken record…like a…

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    • tigerdog says:

      Case open.

      Why do we want to pretend that Trout played more games than he did?
      Why do we want to pretend that both players played in ballparks where they didn’t play?
      Why do we care what “pace” Trout was on?
      The actual runs created is determined by….(drumroll) the runs that were actually created in real major league baseball games. Either a player scored a run, or caused another runner to score a run, or at least moved a runner along who eventually scored.
      Wins are actual wins, that count in the standings.
      Wait, we’re not done yet!
      Now, determine the value of those runs and those wins TO HIS TEAM. What did the team accomplish as a result of the player’s contribution? First place? A wild card? Third place?
      Go ahead and pretend it doesn’t matter, but if you ask the overwhelming majority of players and managers, they’ll tell you that Cabrera deserves the MVP.

      Now, case closed.

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  22. Som57 says:

    It’s going to be a debated topic for sure but at the end of the day does this award really matter?

    It is obvious that they are both extraordinary but do they really need the award to validate how important they are to their team. No, they don’t. The MVP is just an award for fans of teams to beat their chests and say, “yeah we have an MVP on our team!” In the case of Trout it just adds another “0″ to his eventual 17 year contract.

    Cabrera and Trout are both MVPs in my mind and I’m not going to lose sleep over if one wins over the other. Trout, who I believe should win, will have plenty of other chances to get one because he is still relatively young if he doesn’t win this season.

    Also…

    Speaking of RE24 I didn’t expect Buster Posey to be the major league leading player in that category.

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  23. Lan says:

    We need pitching and fielding independent hitting stats. In my mind Cabrera’s slight out performance in batting average and power.

    Division Opponent Defensive Ranking
    Trout: 3rd, 6th, 8th
    Cabrera: 5th, 17th, 21st, 30th

    Division Opponent Pitching Ranking:
    Trout: 2nd, 12th, 19th
    Cabrera: 11th, 17th, 26th, 30th

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  24. NeverJamToday says:

    Thank you, Dave. Unfortunately, the BBWAA more resembles the Roman Inquisition than any aspect of the scientific community.

    I find the Cabrera v. Trout debate so ironic, so illustrative of our topsy-turvy world. Just based on one’s typical assumptions (read, stereotypes) – or at least my assumptions of human behavior, one would think Trout would be the frontrunner in this race, without math even getting involved. Trout plays his home games in sunny, carefree southern California. He is young and plays with an exuberance and enthusiasm reminiscent of Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr before the injuries mounted up. Trout has all the attributes Proctor & Gamble/Madison Avenue adore. He’s an All-American boy. He’s never been linked to any scandal or criminal behavior. And he says all the right things when he’s interviewed. He seems to be the type of guy every father would want his daughter to bring home, and that is a pretty rare quality in professional athletes. Trout’s athleticism is freakish. He makes spectacular, jaw-dropping plays that only a handful of human beings could ever make, and he is one of the fastest baserunners in the history of the game. You can’t keep your eyes off of him when he’s on a ballfield.

    In contrast, Miguel Cabrera is a foreign national from a country whose head of state frightens a number of Americans. Although he’s played in the United States for more than a decade, he has difficulties speaking English, which makes him horrible copy for sportswriters. He plays his home games in a cold, industrial city that has been decaying since the 1960s and is the punch-line to more disparaging jokes than Cleveland. Cabrera has a history of DUIs and domestic violence, including a publicized jailing the morning before his Tigers would play the Twins in a one-game playoff. A drunk/hung over Cabrera went 0-4, stranded six base runners, and his team lost 5-1. In short, that episode alone would suggest a boorish selfishness that people who follow a team sport would resent. Cabrera’s overweight. He is awkward in the field. He can’t run. He’s basically a more quiet version of Manny Ramirez.

    Throw math out the window. Throw out the biased loyalties of Angels and Tigers fans. Just put Trout and Cabrera side-by-side and do an “eye test.” It’s not even close. Trout should run away in a popularity poll.

    I can only think of two reasons why Cabrera seems to be winning the popularity contest: One, people do not like rewarding youth, so Cabrera is getting a life-time achievement benefit; two, people prefer to watch a fat guy mash the hell out of the ball and saunter around the bases than an athletic guy mash the hell out of the ball, run like a deer, and while in the field, routinely turn triples and homers into outs.

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    • Baltar says:

      Be careful of your comparisons. The current Pope’s previous position was head of the Roman Inquisition, though it’s now called the Office of the Doctrine.
      At least that’s better than the Russian Orthodox Church, whose current head came from the KGB.
      (This is not irony; it is actual fact.)

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    • sklandog says:

      With a nod to the contemporary comedic version, I prefer the Spanish version. The Roman Inquisition is an unknown and undoubtedly ugly step-daughter.

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      Irrelevant comparisons to antiquity? Check.
      Talking about irony and our “topsy-turvy world”? Check.
      Multiple overlong paragraphs dripping with pretension? Check.

      You sir, are a douche.

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    • williams .482 says:

      This is a very interesting perspective. Thank you.

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    • rea says:

      Cabrera has a history of DUIs and domestic violence, including a publicized jailing the morning before his Tigers would play the Twins in a one-game playoff. A drunk/hung over Cabrera went 0-4, stranded six base runners, and his team lost 5-1

      Multiple factual errors there, you know–you might look up how many DUIs Cabrera has, which game he got arrested before, whether he was actually jailed, and his actual performance in the 1-game playoff.

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  25. Mike Trout says:

    Meanwhile, everyone has me as a shoo-in for a gold glove

    Despite Austin Jackson having better numbers..

    WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE, FANGRAPHS??

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    • Steve 1 says:

      No one cares about Gold Gloves. Hell, Derek Jeter has five.

      +20 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • indyralph says:

      Check out UZR, Mike. I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit.

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    • Pg says:

      The outrage isn’t there because:

      A.) you’re incorrect. The statistical numbers fangraphs uses for fielding give you (Trout) a healthy advantage.

      B.) it isn’t necessarily an issue of one over the other. There are 3 OF GG awards given.

      C.) it’s the good glove award and nobody cares.

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      • Mike Trout says:

        If no one cares about gold gloves, then why are we using my superior defensive stats in the MVP race?

        Only because it helps my argument?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jon L. says:

        Uh, Mike, people care about defense, obviously. They just don’t care about an award that’s often, probably usually, given to the wrong player.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • David says:

        The Gold Glove is kind of a preview for what the MVP would turn in too without these discussions.

        By the way, can’t believe no one has mentioned Jeter for MVP with the year he is having. He just oozes guts and leadership. Incredibly clutch, the Yankees wouldn’t be where they are without him.

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      • rorschach says:

        @Pg; I believe it is now one Gold Glove for each outfield position, so it would be one over the other, unless they give him the left field award over Alex Gordon, according to Baseball-Reference he has started just less than thirty games there. …Of course these are the people who gave Palmeiro a Gold Glove for his beautiful defensive work at DH, so you’re right, who cares…

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  26. Michael says:

    1. Shouldn’t RE24 = RE_after – RE_prior + RS ?

    2. Doesn’t the argument presuppose there are no flaws in your metrics and everything is captured?

    3. #Trout4MVP2K12

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    • williams .482 says:

      1: yes, and it does.

      2: Not really. All he says is that RE24 has the same sorts of flaws as RBIs, etc, but less of them.

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  27. Matt says:

    I just looked at the all-time leaderboards for this stat (which goes back to 1974), and holy cow!

    Barry Bonds has the top 4 spots with 127.33, 119.10, 118.93, and 93.85. Absolutely unreal.

    Mike Trout would actually only rank 148th all-time with this statistic.

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    • Baltar says:

      It’s a silly stat. Dave found an actual silly stat that incorporates all the silly arguments for Cabrera, except the silly narratives, and still showed that he was wanting.
      Congratulations to a brilliant argument by Dave that will have no effect on the voting at all.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        It’s not a silly stat. Baseball isn’t context-neutral, otherwise the Orioles wouldn’t be in the playoffs, and the White Sox and Rays would be. It’s probably the least silly stat in baseball seeing as how it measures how much you actually contribute to your team scoring runs.

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  28. octelium says:

    How about if everyone just votes for both Trout and Cabrera as Co-Mvp’s? huh? what about that? Because going through all of the Pro and Cons out there it is not like one side is saying the other player is awful, they just say ‘My Player’ is better…

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  29. gweedoh565 says:

    Thank you Dave, for bringing something new and interesting to the discussion.

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  30. I assume all these Trout vs Cabrera articles are getting a massive number of hits, and that is why we keep seeing them.

    Hasn’t the vast majority of Fangraphs agreed that Trout should win the MVP?

    Aren’t there 3 more really tight, interesting races that are worth articles. There could be a lot of difference in opinion on the NL MVP, AL Cy, and NL Cy. Why not discuss those? The issues discussed might even benefit the way we think about the game (how valuable are Verlander’s extra IP?, how should we currently account for perceived catcher defense differences?, how should we treat knuckleballers low BABIP when determining value?).

    Can we PLEASE start talking about these?

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  31. #Rodney4MVP2K12 says:

    I love how the sabremetric side calls out the “old guard” and/or average fan for viewing things as obsolete and being overly stubborn.

    When, in reality, they’re acting no better and remain arrogant in their beliefs.

    Which is why I’m hoping for the BBWWA to proclaim Fernando Rodney as the AL MVP. Just to troll both parties and prove how obnoxious you’re being.

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  32. the fume says:

    As a neutral observer, I must say altho I think this article is a bit picky-and-choosy when the ‘better’ stat (wOBA) says Miguel is a better pure hitter, I agree that Trout has been a more valuable player.

    As a Tigers fan, I must say woooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! Triple crown @*@#$@ take the MVP vote and shove it up Brandon Inge’s @#*$#@* I don’t really care wooooooooo!!!!!!!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lan says:

      Not sure how Trout’s .422 is less than Cabrera’s .416

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      • the fume says:

        wOBA includes stolen bases.

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      • Lan says:

        That’s cool and has nothing to do with you saying, “the ‘better’ stat (wOBA) says Miguel is a better pure hitter”.

        But to your new point… OPS+ still says Trout was a better hitter.

        And further, it’s an MVP not Silver Slugger award. It’s about more than hitting.

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      • the fume says:

        is it that hard to imagine that Trout’s stolen bases are why he’s ahead in wOBA?

        At any rate I asked about it in another thread and they said that’s how Trout was ahead, so if you disagree take it up with them.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. kamikaze says:

    This “debate” is so tiresome.

    1. Miggy had an awesome season. Trout had an even more awesome season. 2. Why give special consideration to BA, HR and RBI? Why not OBP, 2B and R? Why only look at 3 arbitrary stats and willfully ignore the complete picture of a hitter’s offensive performance? Forget WAR for a second, just eyeball all the counting stats.
    3. Trout was basically Miggy’s equal with the bat, and it’s indisputable that he was much more valuable on defense and running the bases.
    4. Can people get over the playoff thing? Trout doesn’t pick his teammates, neither does Miggy. Neither of them can take credit or blame for what their teammates do.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • the fume says:

      2. I saw someone call these stats arbitrary as well…..but BA, HR, and RBI aren’t totally arbitrary. They were probably the most important stats that have always been easily quantifiable. OBP is more valuable certainly than BA, but BA also gives a measure of out avoidance. HRs are sexy and generally the biggest play in baseball of course, and RBIs put runs on the board directly, while runs have a tinge of an ‘assist’ quality to them.

      As a voter, there’s also an interesting question to consider, in that the award over the past 40 years has been given to a certain type of player. And with all the tradition in baseball, one might ask, would it be better to stick with that and keep the award consistent, or would it be better to change the phenotype of the award to fit more closely with it’s definition.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Newcomer says:

        Ummmm… OBP kinda IS a measure of out avoidance. OBP = times an out was avoided out of times at the plate. The inverse of OBP is outs per plate appearance (with the exception of double plays, which count as 1 failure in both BA and OBP). Out avoidance is exactly what OBP measures, and in no way does BA measure it better.

        OBP was just as easy to quantify as BA, it just wasn’t quantified because people wrongly assumed that walks had nothing to do with the batter (this may not have been as wrong in the earliest days of baseball). Hits would be one example of a superior counting stat to RBI that’s been available for a long time.

        It just jumped out at me as extremely odd to see to see “but BA also gives a measure of out avoidance.”

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @Newcomer

        Are you saying that BA does not, in fact, give a measure of out avoidance? Because otherwise you just agreed with him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • BJsGuess says:

        BA, HR, and RBI’s are totally arbitrary. Luck plays a major factor in ALL of them. That’s why they adjust for things like defense and park factors. A HR to right in Yankee stadium isn’t the same as a shot to center in Chavez Ravine.

        RBI’s have the exact same tinge of an assist as runs. You don’t hit any RBI’s if nobody is on base (unless you go deep). If Cabrera steps up to bat every time this season he ends up with 40 RBI’s.

        HR’s are sexy. But so are stolen bases, amazing grabs over the wall and legging out a triple.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David says:

      Re “Trout doesn’t pick his teammates, neither does Miggy. Neither of them can take credit or blame for what their teammates do.”

      While Cabrera didn’t necessarily pick the Tigers’ second best position player on his team, he sure as s**t could have created a brutal situation for the Tigers. Look at the difference between how Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez responded to last winter’s signings. Cabrera quietly agreed to move off his only position to a spot where everyone – including him – knew he was brutal. In week one of spring training, he busted his face open on a routine grounder. But through every step, he said (and apparently meant) that he was okay with it because he knew that signing Fielder made the team a lot better. Ramirez threw a hissy fit, half-assed it through his position change (which wasn’t actually a change from how he handled his previous defensive position) and was one of many contributors to creating an untenable situation in Jeffrey Loria’s House of Opulence and Dysfunction.

      Now, does that inherently mean Cabrera should win the MVP? No.

      Should it be remarkable that a player earning the GDP of a Central American country prioritized what was best for the team? Also no.
      But, in the current state of baseball, it is noteworthy that he did. And I do think it is part of being valuable to a team.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TheUncool says:

        Did you just suggest we should deduct credit from Miggy what eating up a very substantial portion of his team’s payroll in figuring this out? :-)

        That’s certainly one argument (in favor of Trout) that hasn’t gotten much, if any, talk on FG near as I can tell…

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      • David says:

        If we’re going to deduct from Miggy for “eating up” anything, I think salary comes in a distant second to his impact on the budget for post-game clubhouse meals.

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  34. brett says:

    Let’s put this to rest. It’s a question of definition.

    Does Most Valuable Player mean Best Player, or something different? Was Mike Trout the best baseball player in 2012? Sure. Was he the most valuable? That depends on your definition.

    People are entitled to interpret this award however they want until MLB gives it a rigid definition.

    But come on Dave. Now you’re being a dick. We get it, you want Mike Trout to win. But is that reason to keep pushing the issue? Did you throw a fit when Oakland didn’t have as many pythagorean wins or as much team war as Texas? Nope.

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    • Noodle Arm says:

      I agree completely. As someone with a background in discourse analysis, the MVP award states: “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.” Then of course there are the five criteria – the key one being “actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense” – which itself is wide open to varied interpretation.

      The MVP award, by definition, is open to a wide variety of interpretations. There is no such thing as an “open and shut case” within the actual terms of the MVP definition.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Crumpled Stiltskin says:

      I think the question is really if there’s a legitimate definition of value that could find another result?

      The more ways you look at this situation, the more they point to Trout.

      I’ve yet to hear a cogent argument for Cabrera. He wasn’t worth more runs with the bat. He wasn’t worth more runs on the base paths. He wasn’t worth more runs defensively. And his position essentially has the same value. That’s not to mention he had easier competition and played in a better hitting environment.

      No matter how great Cabrera’s season was (and it was, a season worthy of a hall of fame player) there’s just no reasonable way to consider it above that of Trout’s. No matter how much anyone might want it to be so.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Noodle Arm says:

        Fair enough. You make great points.

        Now the case for Cabrera – aside from the obvious fact that he really was the best balanced power hitter in the league:

        (1) Showing up is half the battle: playing 161 games, without taking a break on bad legs, has value (and that the second criteria of the MVP voting is literally “number of games played”); sorry that Trout played less games because he was in the minors in April – not his fault – but the criteria is clear here, and many people are ignoring this point;
        (2) Moving to third allowed the Prince signing, adding value to the Tigers, and that Cabrera played well enough that he did not need to be moved to DH; sure, he is no Beltre, but he did not play as poorly defensively as people claim. This clearly falls under criteria number three of the MVP voting under “loyalty” to team (he put the team above himself, and potentially sacrificed numbers in the “transition” period, to add value).
        (3) Defense is very important (as a SF Giant fan, I know the difference Pagan has made in CF this year), but Trout is actually not as off the charts in CF as everyone makes out (he is, technically, not a five tool player because of poor throwing arm, and through the course of the season it has an impact on runs scored, which cannot be quantified reliably – because it is a contextual assessment). Arm strength is a huge part of outfield defense – just ask Trout about that last game when he was gunned at home plate. So the defense thing is actually not a landslide.
        (4) Cabrera is much better at putting the ball in play; Trout strikes out way too much. So that means, in RISP scenarios Trout is less likely to get an RBI (grounder; fly ball) to score a run from third, or advance the runner – you know, the so-called “intangibles”. The fact putting the ball in play is so fundamental to baseball – to producing runs – is a big knock on Trout. It really is amazing that Cabrera blasted more HR and doubles than Trout with way less strike outs in more plate appearances. I have yet to see a good defense of Trout on this point.

        (5) There is a significant difference is power numbers – specifically the HR (Trout is not top ten in this department) – and this not only puts runs on the board, but more qualitatively, completely changes how Cabrera is pitched, and each guy in front and behind as well. This adds value. Trout has very good power; Cabrera has top shelf, fear mongering power that scouts and coaches game plan around (again, the fact he has done it for so many seasons, after so much scouting, is again amazing). It changes the whole lineup: just ask each opposing manager, every game.

        (5) I agree the RBI is mostly a silly stat; but if you are going to count Trout’s runs scored – depends a lot on those great hitters behind him – then you need to factor in that Cabrera is the one driving in the table setters in Detroit. Batting order is actually not “arbitrary,” in the contextual sense: there is a reason Cabrera is in that position and that is because he is the best at getting guys to home plate (runs win games, I think). Plus Cabrera is actually second in the league in runs because he gets on base so much.

        Cabrera hits for more power AND puts the ball in play more: he combines the very best attributes that produce runs (putting the ball in play more often, and with more authority). Now, of course, Trout is a great speedster on the bases, so that is a major point in his favour. It definitely leads to runs, but of course, you need people to knock you in (people like Cabrera).

        But I think you can see that with the contact and power argument for Cabrera there is actually a good case for him, especially within the context of the new “small ball” (steroid reduced), pitcher’s league we are in now. It really comes down to this: is a historic season from a great power hitting lead-off hitter (and here I would still take comparable A-Rod, Ricky Henderson and Eric Davis seasons over this) more valuable than a balance power hitter (like Yaz, Mantle)? Each season numbers in baseball are contextual – they ebb and flow – but what we do know is that in this season Cabrera was a run producing machine.

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  35. Shawn says:

    Can we safely assume that we’ll never see a positive article here about Cabrera winning the Triple Crown?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

      • the fume says:

        Grudging praise at best: X is not EVIL. WOOO!!!!! It’s pretty much called a statistical quirk.

        But there’s nothing wrong with that, you can read about the triple crown on CNN US News Feed for crying out loud, and you’ve gotten updates on it on ESPN and MLBTV for the past week. 30,000 people came to watch the last Royals game and give Miggy a standing O while 15,000 came to watch the last Mariners game, so that’s how people think of the TC vs. MVP.

        This is the best place to come and argue for Trout without getting laughed at, so if they want to do all these articles pro-Trout it’s probably a good thing.

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      • Shawn says:

        I’m looking for something that actually congratulates Cabrera and doesn’t try to slander him in favor of Trout at the same time.

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      • DowntownChico says:

        Since when does comparing two great players turn into slander?

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        Why are you acitng like people are getting hurt here? We’re just arguing over which awesome, rich athlete gets an award. How is this slander?

        Quit being a baby. People can argue.

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      • Shawn says:

        Sorry…but the attempts to pick apart Cabrera at every opportunity to benefit Trout got old two weeks ago.

        And, for what it’s worth, I believe both are deserving and would be fine with either one as MVP.

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      • Jason B says:

        What these “QUIT PICKING ON MIGGY!!” comments essentially mean is, “You’re NOT supporting the guy that I want to win MVP, and it’s making me feel a little silly for supporting him, so please stop making me feel bad with all of these pretty sound arguments.”

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  36. Paul says:

    Trout has the higher wOBA.

    Trout .422
    Cabrera .416

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  37. Tim says:

    It is obvious that baseball hasn’t fully accepted sabermetrics and in the end, Cabrera is going to win the MVP.

    That isn’t a terrible thing for anyone. Five years ago…would Trout be anywhere close in this discussion?

    How baseball is viewed is changing…but it is going to take time. I understand people are going to be disappointed but I think everyone should be excited that it has become a real debate.

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    • the fume says:

      I suppose ideally you’d have an MVP overall and slightly below that a Cy Young and a single silver slugger and a single gold glove or something.

      The best argument that I have for Miggy is that the MVP vote has typically used hitting as biggest criteria, moving away from that might change what the award has traditionally been. This is assuming the award has a significant enough of a place in history, I suppose, to warrant such caution.

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    • Shawn says:

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with sabremetrics.

      But the problem lies in those who believe things such as this debate should be based solely on that.

      Which is no different than those who feel otherwise.

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      • Crumpled Stiltskin says:

        Unlike other sports, every event is baseball is quantifiable. Sabremetrics is only the attempt to assert just how valuable those events are towards runs and ultimately wins. And there are a wide variety of metrics that deal with the game from any variety of points of view from context-neutral-value to situational hitting to tracking how much a particular event

        If these metrics exist and are more capable at assessing value then merely looking at batting average or home runs or doubles, how could a reasonable person ignore them?

        It’s not like there’s anything made up here. No one is adding gidp to Cabrera that he didn’t actually bat into. Those events occurred. They have negative value, just as his home runs with men on base have positive value. Just as trout’s base running has positive value.

        Is it really reasonable to debate something that has a decisive answer?

        It’s not like the NL race. To use an extreme analogy, It’s closer to the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. People used to debate about that as well. Though, knowing what we know now about the mechanics of the universe, it would no longer seem reasonable to do so.

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      • Fatalotti says:

        You’re also conveniently ignoring all the arguments that have been made using traditional metrics, which still clearly define Trout as the superior player. I mean, do we even need UZR/150 or TZ or dRS to know that Trout was, by far and away the better defender? Is not Trout’s speed and 49 SB against 5 CS enough to know that he, by a mile, the better baserunner?

        People keep trotting out the “arrogant saberist” retort in this debate, but you don’t even need ONE sabermetric figure to show that Trout was the better/more valuable player.

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    • El Vigilante says:

      Oddly enough, I do indeed think Trout would be in this discussion without sabermetrics. His overall skillset is exactly what the old guard loves. He is the often-projected, rarely-realised five tool player.

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      • Shawn says:

        I’m not saying that…Trout clearly is in the MVP race without sabremetrics

        But those acting like it should be a slam dunk for Trout and Cabrera even being mentioned is a joke…is well, a joke.

        I’m fine with either…but unlike some want to proclaim, it’s not a travesty if Trout finishes second.

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      • Jason B says:

        “But those acting like it should be a slam dunk for Trout and Cabrera even being mentioned is a joke…is well, a joke.”

        That’s overstating it just a tad. Thinking Cabrera should finish second to someone who can statistically be shown in several different ways to be the superior player is not saying “he should not even be mentioned.”

        OF COURSE Cabrera had an outstanding season. One of the best in the majors without a doubt. It’s such a basic, inarguable point that it doesn’t need to be repeated over and over just to make him and his supporters feel better.

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  38. David says:

    I think it’s fun that the general tenor of the debate has the “spreadsheet crowd” advocating on behalf of the player whose game is more complete and encompasses the “small ball” attributes, while the “it’s about tradition crowd” advocates for the one-dimensional offensive player.

    For years, the “traditionalist” knock on the “stat geek” (recognizing that pretty much everyone who is actually employed in the game falls in the space where those two supposedly distinct camps overlap) is that they don’t value the things that make the game great. Like taking the extra base, and cutting off a ball in the gap, and disrupting the pitcher by being an exceptional base-stealer.

    I wonder if the stat fans in the pro-Trout camp would be more convincing to people on the other side if they stopped appealing to the authority of the WAR tables and instead resorted to prose.

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    • TheUncool says:

      If only Shakespeare is still around to weave another tale as commentary on this sacred pastime of ours… ;-)

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      • David says:

        You don’t have to be a brilliant wordsmith to make Mike Trout’s play sound like it’s fun to watch, full of artistic merit, and what the game is supposed to look like. It already is.

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  39. Crumpled Stiltskin says:

    It would be interesting if there were a version of WAR using RE24, stolen bases and base running statistics, and UZR and or other defensive metrics. Or really if the value section of the searchable stats listed any number of different ways WAR could be tabulated so we could easily compare them.

    But I think this is a pretty convincing metric for looking at actual value, rather than a context-neutral value.

    I think the best argument for Trout consideting the triple crown crowd is something more simple, just consider that trout has an extra double in his line rather than a stolen base. Even though the value is not exactly equal, it’s close enough for these purposes. If Trout had 30 home runs and 70 doubles rather than 30 home runs, 26 doubles, 49 stolen bases and 5 caught stealings, to go with his batting average, runs, etc . . . I don’t think we are having this discussion.
    .

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    • “But I think this is a pretty convincing metric for looking at actual value, rather than a context-neutral value.”

      I would argue that actual value IS context-neutral.

      The value we see with RE24 is value + certain happenstances.

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      • David says:

        No. The actual value to a team of a three-run homer when trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning is 12 points added to the club’s end-of-season winning percentage.
        The actual value to a team of a solo homer by the exact same player when trailing by five runs in the ninth inning just before the last out is recorded is zero. (except for the licensing value of the marginal difference in lifespan of the club’s hat when 8,000 fans left in the stands turn it inside out and wear it to inspire a rally).
        Neither is more predictive of future value to the club than the other, but there is certainly more ACTUAL value in one than the other.

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      • Crumpled Stiltskin says:

        All real world events have such happenstance somewhere within.

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      • We seem to be using the word “actual” in different ways here.

        You seem to be using it to mean “value in the actual world.”

        I am using actual to mean “objective value.”

        I think we are both right on our own usage of “actual,” and it could be reasonably used in either way. Any disagreement seems to just be us talking past each other.

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      • David says:

        Just to recap, you’ve just confirmed that we disagree because I’m using the word actual to describe things in the “actual world,” while you aren’t.

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  40. DowntownChico says:

    I’ve been wondering why stats such as WPA (Win Probability Added) are being ignored for this argument. I understand that they are not predictive stats, and have no use in player projections. They can, and should, be ignored in most player analysis. However, I believe they have their use at season’s end. RE24, which Dave writes about, is a stat that measures very similar to WPA.

    1. It is a counting stat. This let’s us compare Miggy and Trout for the total output in the seasons they had, regardless of games played. Both players are essentially penalized with zeros for the games they miss.

    2. It tells us what happened. It is a terrible stat to tell us what will happen later, due to so much being out of the player’s control. However, it directly measures what value the player contributed to the team in terms of ‘helping to win the game’

    3. It rewards clutch. For example, not all HRs are equal. Is it just as ‘valuable’ to hit a solo shot when down 8 runs as it is to hit a 2-run walk-off jack? No. WPA and RE24 take this into account.

    4. It’s all about hitting. Which is the argument for Cabrera.

    For Reference:
    Trout WPA: 5.65
    Cabrera WPA: 4.51

    Dave (or anyone), do you believe stats such as WPA and RE24 are useful at seasons end to evaluate players, or are they just ‘cute’ statistics with little to no benefit?

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    • Ben Hall says:

      WPA is a bit better for this type of analysis, because in addition to taking outs and runners on base, it takes the inning and score into account. A two out, three run homer in the 8th isn’t very important if your team is up five.

      Of course, Trout is well-ahead in that context too (5.65 to 4.51).

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  41. Wellhitball says:

    “the assumption that baserunning and defense are of marginal value, and that position players should really by evaluated by their hitting statistics” is a big fat load of BS!!!!!

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  42. Kazinski says:

    “The case for Cabrera also wants you to take context into account, since Cabrera drove in so many more runs than Trout did, and wants Cabrera to receive credit for his accomplishments with men on base.”

    Sure but Trout is a leadoff hitter, so he isn’t going to get as many opportunities to hit with men on base, on at least 20% of his PA’s hes gauranteed to to come up with nobody on base.

    Cabrera had 364 of his 697 PA’s (52%) with the bases empty.

    Trout had 425 of is 639 PA’s (66%) with the Bases empty.

    That also means Trout had fewer opportunities to hit into double plays that Cabrera did, but somehow I think there is some other factor 28-7 difference in GDP.

    I’ll point out here that I wrote a comment in this thread a few weeks ago using the RE24 stat to analyze the MVP race:
    Since MVP voting is very results oriented I think the RE24 stat is a great foundation for looking at MVP. It factors in stolen bases, outs, men on base, the only thing it doesn’t factor offensively is non-SB base running….

    We’ll see how committed Dave is to RE24 for MVP analysis when he weighs in on the NL MVP race. Buster Posey led the majors in RE24.

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    • Ben Hall says:

      Runners on base works both ways. It’s both an opportunity to produce a big negative swing in RE24 (and WPA, which is even better as it accounts for innings and score) but also an opportunity to produce a big positive swing. So if you want to discount Cabrera’s greater number of negative scores because he had the double play opportunities, you also have to discount his greater number of positive scores because he hit with runners on more often.

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    • williams .482 says:

      Dave is not offering RE24 as a good measure of player value, per say. he is offering it as a statistic which does what RBIs are supposed to do, but with less binary distinctions than “drove in runs” “did not drive in runs.”

      Basically, RE24 is an attempt to find a middle ground between two camps centered around their statistics of choice.

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  43. I don’t know if it’s been said, but RE24 compares players to average. Trout has an advantage here, because of less playing time.

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    • DowntownChico says:

      Not true. It is a counting stat, which accumulates over more at bats. More playing time means more opportunities to increase RE24.

      Please tell me if I am wrong. I may be misunderstanding.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Any number compared to average has this problem. An example: If a player hits in one at-bat and creates one run above average, has he provided the same value as someone who played all season and created one run above average? You’d say yes if you think it’s easy to find average players. If you don’t think so, then you would value the player who played all season more highly. This is why we talk about replacement levels.

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    • Kazinski says:

      You obviously don’t understand the stat. Less playing time penalizes Trout in RE24.

      Sure it is possible for 2 players to both have a 0 RE24, one with 600PA, and another with 10PA. But it is impossible to get a score of of +50, or -50 for that matter without a lot of playing time.

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  44. Joe says:

    I’m legitimately sad that Trout probably won’t win the MVP. Its pathetic.

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  45. Kevin says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I’m pretty convinced that Cabrera will win the MVP, but the fact that Trout is even in consideration shows just how much influence these advanced statistics now have in baseball, which is pretty cool.

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    • NeverJamToday says:

      I disagree with the assertion that sabermetrics has anything to do with Trout’s popularity or MVP mojo. He was the most exciting player to watch this year. His athleticism demands attention. His feats at bat, on the bases, and especially in the field routinely made the Sports Center highlight reel – which of course aggrandizes a player’s “value” to the media and fans. He put up great back-of-a-baseball-card counting stats.

      If Cabrera wins the MVP – and I think he’s a lock – then this is the troglodytes on the BBWAA flipping the bird to the Saber community. They are saying, “Cabrera won the Triple Crown, so fuck you and your WAR.”

      I almost think that Trout would have had a better chance of winning the MVP in the 70s, before Bill James began publishing his own works, when there wasn’t so much time since ’65 and ’67 when Frank Robinson and Yaz had Triple Crown seasons. You know, a time when Keith Hernandez, a sabermetric friendly first baseman (7.3 WAR) on a third-place team tied for the MVP voting with Willie Stargell (2.8 WAR), a fat first baseman on a first place team who hit tape measure homers, clogged the bases and cost his team runs with his poor defense, but nevertheless somehow willed his team to victory with his “clutch” hitting.

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      • tigerdog says:

        Trout would have a better shot at winning the MVP if his contribution had the value to his team of pushing them into the post season. Past triple crown winners, who also had some of the highest WAR seasons in history, didn’t win the MVP because their teams didn’t win the pennant. The BBWAA has been consistent on this point throughout the years.

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  46. Marc says:

    Who freaking cares who the MVP is. It doesn’t matter. Of course Detroit fans love Cabrera and want him to win, they watched him everyday. At this point I feel its not even about Trout and Cabrera anymore, but about the legitimacy of these advanced stats. In the end both these players are great ambassadors to the game, and baseball has had a great year (Other than me losing my H2H league on gregerson so and save).

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  47. Spike says:

    bottom line is that all other things being equal (which they never are), a 3Bman cannot beat a CF to win mvp. that seems to be the argument presented by some (not all). I know… now some will argue that they aren’t saying that… it’s that Trout is a better CFer than MC is a 3Bman, but I think the general level of difficulty at one of the premium positions over a corner slants the debate a bit.

    I’m not saying that Cabrera had as good a season as Trout. I think Trout stands out above everyone this year, but I was just trying to look at it a different way since position keeps cropping up into the argument. It’s simply hard to overlook the power/speed combination *plus* playing a premium defensive position, which is kind of the kicker…

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  48. Great article. I’m just wondering why these stats aren’t used in baseball analysis more often? If I understand that RE stat correctly, that seems like exactly how players should be evaluated. I would take it one step farther though, because a stat like this CAN be context neutral. Couldn’t you calculate the “expected value” of each out bat result without having to include which players Trout, Cabrera, etc. actually had on the bases? Meaning if you gather enough data about how much each situation (man on 1B, 1st and 2nd, etc.) happens on average in a season, you should be able to track how much each type of hit is worth, period. Meaning it shouldn’t matter if there’s someone on 1B or bases empty when Cabrera hits a ground ball to shortstop, because with enough data we should be able to calculate this with exactly how much negative value a double play is worth. Likewise a single and double can be labelled can worth exactly the same every time no matter how many players are actually on bases, because there’s enough data to know how often players will be on base in that situation, and thus what the “expected runs” of that play is

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  49. Bart says:

    I almost hope Mike Trout $ucks next season so this entire argument dies on the vine.

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  50. Smitty says:

    “This is not a theoretical metric.”

    Really?

    “…a situation where the Tigers would be expected to score 0.33 runs on average”

    Sounds pretty theoretical to me.

    When can we expect the time zones to be factored in? “OPSTZ+” maybe? Work on it, nerds.

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  51. Kerry Waller says:

    Confound these “new-fangled” stats! How can I make a loyalistic, emotional statement with no basis in fact if you young whippersnappers keep applying data to prove me wrong?

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    • Willanactualstatistician says:

      I wish you people would learn the difference between data and statistics. You think you sound smart, and you might to those who know better. To the educated you sound like idiots. We actually laugh as a group at most of the posts on this web site.

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      • Jason B says:

        Pretty sure anyone professing (in their user name, no less! How terribly insecure) to be “an actual statistician” is nothing of the sort.

        Cordially,
        Jason B…um, that is, JasonBTheFinancialConsultant <—see how obnoxious that is? See how no one cares?

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  52. Secondly, I was wondering if a sabermetrician can rip apart the following calculation:

    Cabrera scores 65 Rs off the bases. I did this by taking his Runs Scored (109) and subtracting HRs (44), where Cabrera scores himself with his bat, not the bases. I then added his 139 RBIs, for total runs of 204 that he was involved in, where he either got on base and then was scored by someone else, or hit himself or other players in

    Trout, using the same calculation scores 99 Rs off the bases (129 Rs, minus 30 HRs). Added to his 83 RBIs with the bat, his total is 182.

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but this seems like a pretty quick-hand way to at least make a case for Cabrera’s run scoring having an advantage this year. It’s a simple system – It measures exactly how many runs the player actually contributed to, either by getting on base and being scored, or batting a player in. Much of where Trout is at a disadvantage in RBI is covered in this stat. His game batting lead off and before great hitters/after bad ones, allows him to be scored by great hitters just like Cabrera having players on base allows him to score them with his bat. Trout’s baserunning and stealing and the fact that he gets on base more (even if OBP was the same, he’d get on base more just because more of Cabrera’s hits are HRs) all contribute to Trout being in scoring position more. Trout is “rewarded” for his extra on base ability, base running and stealing and position in the lineup by having 52% more runs scored off the bases than Cabrera, a margin not far off from Cabrera’s RBI advantage (67%) that context and his style of play, position in the lineup rewards him for.

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  53. LondonStatto says:

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that Trout had one of the best four-month stretches in baseball history.

    But he produced virtually nothing in April, and come September he faded and his team faded with him, missing the playoffs.

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    • Willanactualstatistician says:

      Actually his team did better. How many MVPs have their team do better when they do poorly.

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    • Fatalotti says:

      I fail to see how a .289/.400/.500 line qualifies as “fading’ in September?

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      • DowntownChico says:

        THIS. He DID NOT fade in September.

        He also had a wRC+ of 158. Which, if done over the entire season, would have put him at 5th best in MLB for the season, tied with Andrew McCutchen. (Trout finished 1st with wRC+ of 175, overall).

        People seem to think if enough people are stating the same thing, it must be true. If your going to make an argument as vague as “He was crappy down the stretch”, it would be nice if just one single statistic backed it up.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        He had 5.57 RE24 in September. Cabrera had 10.72. Trout is in the same position on the second page as Cabrera is on the first page in the September RE24 leaderboards.

        There’s your single statistic.

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  54. Jason says:

    Fangraphs has convinced me that Trout had more individual player value than Cabrera. However, the MVP only makes sense in a team context. It’s not an award for the “highest individual player value.” It’s an award for “most valuable TO HIS TEAM.” That’s why Cabrera’s move to 3B, the players’ September performance, and the Angels having Bourjos (versus the Tigers’ putrid bench) are relevant.

    I’m consistent: I’d vote Cabrera first, Cano second, and Trout third.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lan says:

      You seem to be arbitrarily defining value. The most valuable person to his team was Trout (according to the best statistics we have). If Trout added the same value as Cabrera, the angles would have lost 3 more games this year.

      A win in May/June/July is just as valuable as a win in September. It’s just human bias that makes it seem more important.

      And in the end the Angels won more games than Detroit in large part because of Mike Trout.

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      • Jason says:

        Yes, the Angels won one more game, but they’ll be eating TV dinners while the Tigers are playing Saturday night. Saying it’s “human bias” to value September more highly and then saying the ninth inning is higher-leverage than the first inning (which we all, rightly, do) is logically incoherent.

        Part of the problem (thanks to the good folks at Baseball Primer) is the actual MVP ballot:

        “1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort.”

        Actual value of a player TO HIS TEAM – the prepositional phrase matters – is team-contextual and NOT the same as “strength of offense and defense”. The “that is” is highly misleading.

        Also, “number of games played” favors Cabrera over Trout.

        On “strength of offense and defense” alone – the putative “best” player in the AL – Cabrera is fourth:

        1) Trout
        2) Beltre
        3) Cano
        4) Cabrera

        And I think Dave Cameron would agree with me on this.

        But it’s not the way the MVP is determined. According to the guidelines, and accounting for September performance, it SHOULD be Cabrera-Cano-Trout.

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      • KG says:

        Except for the fact that the guidelines clarify “actual value” by saying it is strength of offense and defense. It’s right there, how do you miss that?

        It literally says the actual value of a player to his team is the strength of offense and defense (of that player).

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      • Jason says:

        (Replying to KG)

        I’m saying that the MVP guidelines are misleading. It SAYS that actual value = strength of offense and defense. I’m saying that there are other factors (team context, moving up the defensive spectrum, pennant race performance, making the postseason), and that they amount to MAYBE 10% at most, but they all point to Cabrera. That’s why Cabrera WILL win the MVP – because the voters acknowledge these “extras”.

        I’m sick of support for Trout being made into a sabermetric litmus test and support for Cabrera being proof that you are a misinformed troglodyte with no real knowledge of the game.

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      • tigerdog says:

        It is YOU who are arbitrarily defining value by limiting the definition to your own definition of “best statistics”. One statistic that can not be ignored is the fact that Cabrera’s contribution put his team into the post season. You stop at runs, and wins. I wouldn’t.

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  55. deadhead says:

    Everyone realizes that they probably won’t get to have gay sex with Mike Trout whether he wins MVP or not, right? Either way you can masterbate while calculating his UZR and chatting with KLaw all off season. Carry on your discussion.

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    • Spike says:

      clearly an over 50 Yankee fan. there seems to be some cognitive dissonance regarding how to interpret stats for anyone over 50. Good thing I miss the cut off by a few years.

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      • deadhead says:

        Way off on both assumptions. I like WAR, but I don’t care if the guy that has the highest WAR wins an award. WAR seems like a great way to calculate monetary value for front offices. But the value I get from baseball has nothing to do with that.

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      • Spike says:

        not a WAR watcher either.

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      • Lyle Schweik says:

        Hey, I’m over fifty and have no trouble following the stats. Trout SHOULD be the winner but Cabrera WILL probably win. It has nothing to do with the stats and everything to do with how the old-fashioned voters vote.

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  56. Willanactualstatistician says:

    You people are moronic with these stats. Please stop using them to promote your agenda. They are fundamentally flawed.

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    • deadhead says:

      This guy is the best commentator here.

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    • Rob in CT says:

      Wow, you’re “an actual statistician” so clearly we must bow to you.

      The funny thing here is that Trout is exactly the sort of player those who usually decry the “statheads” claim to love. He’s an excellent hitter, an excellent baserunner, and (it appears) a very good defensive Centerfielder.

      He’s roughly equal to Cabrera on offense, while being far superior at defense. That’s the basic argument. There are various stats that can be used to bolster it. Amusingly enough, the people arguing for Cabrera fall back on stats too… batting average, home runs and rbi. Somehow those are magically not “stats” or something.

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    • Jason B says:

      I like how he refers in both of his last two posts to “you people”. He just can’t be bothered to muck it up with you commoners and dullards.

      Sincerely,
      JasonBAnActualFinancialConsultantAgain

      (It’s just another version of, “You people are picking on my guy!” comments, with a healthy dose of smug insider knowledge that’s way too valuable to share with you half-wits.)

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      What do you mean, “You people”?

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  57. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Lets go back to the real old days and vote for Cano over Trout and Cabrera.
    In the old days you just needed to play for the Yankees.
    Interesting that this RE24 stat has Buster Posey ahead of Trout.

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  58. brendan says:

    dave, do you think that winning the ROY will maybe _hurt_ Trouts chances for the MVP? Might voters think: Trout already is getting one award, let’s give the other one to Cabrera?

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  59. Tim says:

    For those who like traditional stats, if you added runs scored plus RBI and then divide per 162 games, Trout and Cabrera are really close, slight edge for Cabrera, 249 to 247.

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    • The problem with this calculation is that a HR is counted twice, in the R column and in the RBI column, I believe. It’d have to be more like (Runs – HRs) + RBIs. Cabrera has a 24 R lead in the stat (204 vs 182), though per 162 games Cabrera has 205 and Trout has 212 – though in the MVP race adjusting to 162 shouldn’t happen, Trout missing games punishes his case. I think it’s clear that at the least, per game, Trout was the better player this year

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      • Fatalotti says:

        Cabrera created 204 runs (runs + RBI – HR) in 697 PA. At his 2012 pace, Trout would have created 199 runs had he accrued 697 PA. A whopping 5 run difference.

        When you consider that Cabrera only beat Trout by 4 points in BA, lost by 6 points in OBP, beat him by 42 points in slugging, but had 45 less stolen bases…and didn’t even come close in defense, I think it’s pretty clear who the better/more valuable player was.

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  60. deadhead says:

    This is not a theoretical metric.

    Best sentence in the article. Also, completely false. The editor needs an editor.
    Come on, Dave!

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  61. Leroy Corso says:

    I have a question. Who assigns the values to all these stats? The only stat I need is Trout’s choking down the stretch, batting .283 since Aug 1…crunch time. Miggy batted .345. Also, 90% of managers and players believe Miggy should win the MVP….you know, people that have actually played the game.

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    • Rob in CT says:

      Well, I guess everyone should vote for Robinson Cano then, since “down the stretch” he was absolutely on fire for a Yankees team that took their division by a mere 1 game.

      No? Oh, pray tell, why not?

      Because Cano wasn’t really the best player in the AL this year? Pish-posh! He was good down the stretch!

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      • Leroy Corso says:

        Cano was great his last 15 AB of the season. Miggy was great all year INCLUDING when his team needed him most.

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      • Rob in CT says:

        I’m not actually arguing for Cano over Cabrera (Cano has a higher WAR I think, but he really did struggle w/RISP for much of the year and therefore should place 3rd), his “on fire” period was more than 15 PA. It was more like 35 or so. Still, it was indeed a short period. Cano can be streaky like that.

        My point is that “the stretch” is an arbitrary period of time. The whole season is not, and all the games count (which is indeed something the Angels learned to their dismay. They held Trout in AAA and played poorly in April).

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    • Lan says:

      Why do you think a win ‘down the stretch’ has more value than a win in May?

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      • Leroy Corso says:

        I don’t know. Ask the Oakland A’s.

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      • Lan says:

        -Leroy…. The A’s know your opinion? That’s super.

        I’d guess if I did ask Beane, he’d say a win is a win. And that you can’t get to win 94 without wining 93, and you couldn’t get 93 without 92 and on and on. But that winning 94 is more valuable than 93 or 92, or in the Tigers case 88.

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      • Jack says:

        Apparently games in September add 2 to the win column instead of the usual 1.

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      • tigerdog says:

        Lan, the Tigers 88 wins is more valuable than the Angels 89, and equal to the Yankees 95. MVP voters have clearly attributed value to a player that helps his team reach the post season throughout history.

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    • And of course we should listen to them without question because Michael Jordan was so good at building a basketball team?

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    • KG says:

      Appeal to authority in effect!

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  62. Seattle Homer says:

    Apologies if this has already been addressed, but I’m not familiar with RE24. I like the idea, but one thing jumps out at me. If the inputs are Outs, Runners On, and Batting Result, why are the RE24 values different for Cabrera’s 4/8 vs 9/29 situations?

    Both are 0 out, runners on 1st & 2nd, result was a 3 Run HR. What accounts for the (small) difference of .05? Thanks.

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    • DowntownChico says:

      This. I looked it up because I wanted to prove you wrong. However, it defies all logic. There should be no difference between the two.

      Def of RE24 below:

      “It’s similar to WPA (except in runs), but unlike WPA it does not take into account the inning or score of the game… It does however take into account how many runners are on base and how many outs are left in the inning.”

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    • Seattle Homer says:

      I thought the same thing, Chico. I assumed one was runners on 1st & 2nd, one was runners on 1st & 3rd, or something similar. But from what I can tell the inputs to the RE24 formula are identical.

      The only difference I see is that one had Austin Jackson and Quinton Berry on base, the other had Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch on base.

      Unless there’s something more complex that has been omitted from the description of the formula for simplicity’s sake (“the runner on 2nd was faster, so the at-bat-start-RE was higher” or “the pitcher was better, so the at-bat-start-RE was lower”)?

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      • DowntownChico says:

        Theoretically, you should be able to make a chart with these variables, that do not ever differ given same value to outs, starting baserunners, outcome. (for example: *** http://tangotiger.net/re24.html ***)

        So that, when you looked up ‘Man on 1st, 1 Out, Double, 1 Run Scores’, the RE24 added should ALWAYS be the same, regardless of hitter, pitcher, runner, score, inning, etc.

        Something is seriously amiss here… My best guess would be that the regression to calculate the average values are recalculated throughout the season.

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    • Seattle Homer says:

      I thought the same thing, Chico. I assumed one was runners on 1st & 2nd, one was runners on 1st & 3rd, or something similar. But from what I can tell the inputs to the RE24 formula are identical.

      The only difference I see is that one had Austin Jackson and Quinton Berry on base, the other had Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch on base.

      Unless there’s something more complex that has been omitted from the description of the formula for simplicity’s sake (“the runner on 2nd was faster, so the at-bat-start-RE was higher” or “the pitcher was better, so the at-bat-start-RE was lower”)?

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  63. Enkidu says:

    This isn’t just the best performance of 2012 – it’s one of the best individual performances in the history of baseball.

    . Mike Trout: +56.52 runs

    Arod has had 3 seasons over 60 and 1 over 70. Greatest hitter of all time? Can you make those kind of year to year comparisons among different players with this stat?

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  64. Lan says:

    No mention of park factors… Anaheim suppressing offense while Detroit favoring it?

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  65. David K says:

    I didn’t have time to read all 187 posts so far, so forgive me if this is a repeat, but one thing I was thinking about regarding RE24 is that Trout probably doesn’t get ENOUGH credit for his RE24 advantage and here’s why. Let’s say each of these two guys comes up with nobody out and nobody on and hit a single. RE24 would say the run expectancy goes up the same in both cases, does it not, because it’s based on MLB averages of the probability of scoring with a man-on-first-and-one-out situation. But we all know that with Trout on first, the probability is higher that the team will score because of his running ability. I don’t believe RE24 takes this into account at all.

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    • Leroy Corso says:

      Let’s say each guy comes up with 2 outs and runners in scoring position? Who do you want at bat? I can answer that question .420 (miggy) and .283 (trout).

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    • Smitty says:

      This whole thing isn’t my cup of tea, but I will give you guys credit, you sure are dedicated.

      Personally, I think you’re all going to live out your days in a straightjacket staring at squirrels trying to calculate their “Acorn+”, but it sure is something to see.

      It’s just baseball guys. Throw, hit, catch. You don’t need all of this. You’re going to drive yourself insane.

      Just trying to help. Carry on.

      -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  66. ajkreider says:

    Any stat that values a K more than GIDP, like RE24 does, is seriously flawed. If you think not even putting the ball in play makes you a better hitter in those cases, there’s not much left to say.

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  67. ajkreider says:

    Yeah, it’s better for your team. But you are a worse hitter. My RE24 score would be higher than Miggy’s in those 28 at bats. I’m thinking that isn’t an indication of our relative hitting ability.

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    • indyralph says:

      It sounds like you do not believe that a hitter’s value is dependent upon context. Now try to make an argument for Cabrera > Trout.

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      • ajkreider says:

        I don’t think Miggy was a better player than Trout this year. I think a stat that says the guy who can’t even get his bat on the ball is a better hitter than the guy who hits a sharp grounder to third is a dumb stat for evaluating relative hitting ability.

        Context relative stats are fine, so long as you aren’t “rewarded” for being worse at your job.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        It’s not that he was a better hitter, it’s that he contributed more actual value to his team (or less negative value, as the case may be)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • David says:

        AJK – I get where you’re coming from, but I think you’re misreading it just a bit.

        In this case, the stat says that in a given situation, the guy who didn’t even get his bat on the ball DID LESS DAMAGE to his team’s chances for winning than the guy who hit an easy grounder to shortstop.

        It has nothing to say about who is objectively (or subjectively for that matter) better at the skills involved with hitting a baseball.

        If the question is would I rather have Miguel Cabrera or ajkreider at bat in any given situation for my favorite team, I think I’ll go with Cabrera. (No offense; I’m sure you’re a nice guy!)

        But if the question is would I rather my team got a strikeout with a runner on first and one out in the ninth inning, meaning that they now have one last crack at getting the tying run in, or that they got a double-play grounder that ends the game, I’ll take the first outcome every day. (No offense Miguel; I’m sure you could maim me with minimal effort!)

        It is NOT contradictory to say I’d rather have Cabrera at the plate every time and still wish that there had been a different outcome in any of the specific 60.7% of plate appearances where he failed.

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  68. Keith Law says:

    Dave Cameron isn’t a dick….I am

    Stolen bases > everything, fools!

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  69. Chris from Bothell says:

    Trout was quoted yesterday as saying that he was playing really flat the last 2 games of the season because of disappointment in not making the playoffs.

    He didn’t play hard wire-to-wire and just phoned it in when their team was eliminated? Some MVP. This alone is enough of a tiebreaker for me. Never mind which stats you want to measure. How can he be the most valuable player with an attitude like that?

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    • Chris from Bothell says:

      And in case anyone rolls their eyes on that one, look right at the end of the voting guidance itself: “…general character, disposition, loyalty and effort”.

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      • Chris from Bothell says:

        Actual quote: Mike Trout
        “These last two games, when Oakland knocked us out, it was tough to stay concentrated,” Trout said, hours after the A’s won their sixth straight game to stunningly take the AL West away from the Rangers. “It’s tough to get motivated. It’s a long year, you work so hard, and all of a sudden you’re out of it, it’s tough.”

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        If you’re using “general character” as a criterion for Cabrera over Trout…

        I’m not even going to make a joke about it.

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    • Fatalotti says:

      So, he says “it’s tough to stay motivated” for TWO games, and to you, that means he schlepped around for those two games, didn’t try, and disqualified himself from the MVP.

      Is that really your argument?

      Well, Trout had a .375/.444/.500 line in his last two games.

      What a loser!! He wasn’t even trying!!

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      • Jason B says:

        *Rips open envelope*

        Dumbest argument in support of anything ever…SIT DOWN JOSEPH SMITH! We have a new winner, Chris from Bothell! Get your ass down here Chris! Speech!!

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  70. Joe says:

    Doesn’t matter. Triple Crown.

    And 6th in fielding percentage at 3rd base as opposted to 9th in CF for Trout.

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Fatalotti says:

      Ah, fielding percentage….the clincher!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Fatalotti says:

        I suppose if Cabrera never moved from one spot at 3B, and only fielded the balls that came directly to him, he’d lead the league in fielding percentage, right??

        Do you see why fielding percentage is a weak metric for determining defensive value?

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  71. Old School says:

    Based upon the all powerful WAR, I propose that we go back and give the MVPs to the players with the highest WAR for each season. Congratulations to newly crowned two-time AL MVP Ben Zobrist (2009 & 2011). Zobrist finished 8th and 16th in MVP voting in those two seasons, but now he is one of the all-time greats after being awarded 2 MVPs in 3 seasons. Congratulations are also in order to 2008 AL (WAR) MVP Nick Markakis, who didn’t receive a SINGLE MVP vote in 2008. The 2006 AL MVP is now Grady Sizemore, even though he finished 11th in MVP voting that season. If only the voters knew about WAR, imagine how different baseball history would look.

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    • DowntownChico says:

      Who is this aimed at? The whole point of the article is to not mention WAR in the debate, but to look at a statistic which only measures OFFENSIVE output.

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      Do you know what WAR is? Because Ellsbury led the league in WAR in 2011 and Sizemore led the league in 2008.

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  72. Old School says:

    Darwin Barney WAR= 4.5
    Josh Hamilton WAR = 3.6

    So all of you Defense and Baserunning gurus…. time to put-up or shut-up

    Do you really believe that a team with Darwin Barney will win 1 more game than a team with Josh Hamilton?

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    • deadhead says:

      Sure. Makes sense.

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    • Justin says:

      Where in the world are you getting those numbers? It’s not even close.

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    • DowntownChico says:

      Anyone that understands WAR understand it has its flaws. The most drastic of which is our inability at this point in time to accurately measure defensive value. No one is saying that someone with a higher WAR is absolutely more valuable than another player.

      Please stop debating WAR on this thread. The article is about removing fielding and baserunning, and seeing that Trout still measures up to Cabrera in advanced OFFENSE-ONLY statistics.

      SaberMetrics is SO MUCH DEEPER THAN WAR. Don’t let ESPN fool you into thinking it’s so simple.

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      • the fume says:

        I’m sure you know this, but in the interest of clarification, stolen bases are included in RE24. I don’t think there’s much argument that Cabrera is a better *hitter*, so hopefully people don’t think this is being argued.

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  73. Slats says:

    At this point I just want to Cabrera win MVP so I can come here and read the 1,000 articles by Cameron about how it was a bad choice.

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  74. Rippers says:

    Now don’t get me wrong, I love WAR when debating best players, but not necessarily most valuable. It has always bugged me that WAR judges off a theoretical average replacement player, not the actual replacement players available in an organization. This makes it’s perception of value somewhat distorted. If you’re at all intrigued, follow me after the jump for a little math and hopefully some new light being shed on the AL MVP race.

    Methodology: As previously stated, WAR judges all players off of the same baseline, which makes it a decent tool for raw comparisons of two players [1] . By utilizing Baseball References WAR stat, I intend to evaluate Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera’s Wins Above Team Eligible Replacement. This will be done by dividing total player WAR by their games played this season. then subtracting Miguel Cabrera’s WAR/game from his available replacement, and the same for Mike Trout. Then re-multiplying out by their total games played this season.

    The Replacements: Obviously, a few assumptions are made herein. The primary one being that both the Angels and the Tigers would be satisfied playing their theoretical replacements, and would make no moves to upgrade the positions over the course of the season. Also that no defensive alignment changes would be made, ie- Torii Hunter shifted to center in LA, or Jhonny Peralta making the move to third in Detroit, allowing for differential replacements. Finally, any prospects in either system will be treated as replacement level players, with a net impact of zero. Prospects are generally too hit and miss for me to want to take them into account.

    I will utilize the MLB.com team depth charts to base my analysis, this means the WATER replacements are Danny Worth and Peter Bourjos. Though, the stat could be calculated using any other available replacements, ie- Don Kelly and Vernon Wells, if you so desired.

    The Numbers:

    Miguel Cabrera: 6.5 WAR over 158 games, WAR/game=0.04114
    Mike Trout: 10.5 WAR over 136 games, WAR/game=0.07721
    Danny Worth: -0.3 WAR over 41 games, WAR/game=-0.00732
    Peter Bourjos: 1.2 WAR over 98 games, WAR/game=0.01224
    Miguel Cabrera WATER/game=0.04114+.00732=0.04846

    Mike Trout WATER/game=0.07721-0.01224=0.06497

    Miguel Cabrera WATER= 7.657

    Mike Trout WATER= 8.836

    Analysis: What was originally a 4 WAR gap shrinks to slightly over 1. That is still a statistically significant advantage for Trout. But not an overwhelming one. How much do you as an individual value a players contributions over the final month of the season? What is the value of a team making the playoffs?

    Mike Trout is without a doubt the best player in the American league this season. However, accounting for the available replacements on each team, the fact that the Tigers will most likely reach the post season while the Angels watch from home, and the fact that Miguel Cabrera came through when his team needed it the most while Mike Trout “scuffled” (VERY relatively, frankly speaking) I firmly believe the Miguel Cabrera is the Most Valuable Player in the American League.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lan says:

      You assume the Tigers would have sat around all season watching Danny Worth play sub-replacement baseball. I highly doubt that. They probably would have held onto Brandon Inge who put up 1.5 WAR in 83 games.

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      • tigerdog says:

        No, I’d take Worth over Inge by a mile, at any position or at the plate. He never got to play.

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      • Tim says:

        Wouldn’t hav estuck with Worth????

        Did you not see that Ryan Raburn got 260 PA this season? You have no idea how much Leyland values “grit” and “scrappiness”

        Don Kelly leads the league in SCAR….of course he tied last year for league lead with Wil Rhymes

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  75. Rippers says:

    Best hitter in the game = Miguel Cabrera
    Best overal player in the game = Mike Trout

    Trout is MVP.

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  76. Mike says:

    why even have a MVP? Should we just have a MWARP?

    why even have traditions? Baseball doesn’t need traditions… and it doesn’t need narratives.. and no more “stories” in baseball please.

    Stories are SO 20th century.

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    • deadhead says:

      I’m so sick of those writers giving their writer’s award to people that make a good story. Narratives are stupid. Words are for idiots. I like lists of numbers only. I heart scouting box scores!

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      • Noodle Arm says:

        If these metrics are scientific, are they being published in peer review journal articles? Just a question (maybe they are), because academic articles will publish this stuff – if it meets the scientific criteria. This is a blog.

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      • Mike says:

        Yeah Baseball should be just like science! AWESOME!

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  77. StatsNut83 says:

    I wish numbers explained everything so I could know the answers to everything. Life would be so much easier! I love stats, but trying to measure every aspect of a game by a metric will never work. It’s helpful and interesting, but you’ll never cover everything. Can’t happen. Trout was better by sabermetric standards. Amazing…even historic. Cabrera…his was historic too, even if by caveman metrics.

    I’m not gonna say Dave or any of you are wrong, but I disagree with you to say that Cabrera is not deserving. MVP is left to be defined by the voters…I imagine it’s going to be close, but I don’t doubt Cabrera will win.

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  78. Old School says:

    WAR! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

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  79. Jimbo says:

    I WELCOME RESPONSES CHALLENGING THIS:

    What is the most important thing about offense? It is runs scored or runs batted in is it not? There is no disputing that the more runs scored, the better off you are. Batting avg or getting on base means nothing unless you can score or bring guys home. Stealing a base means nothing unless you score. So lets look at runs scored and runs batted in…

    Detroit scored 726 runs this year. Of these runs, Cabrera is responsible for 248 of them (109 R and 139 RBI) or 34% of their production.

    LAA scored 767 runs this year. Of these runs, Trout is responsible for 212 of them (129 R and 83 RBI) or 27.6% of their production.

    Notice-LAA scored more runs this year so don’t give me anything about how DET has a better offense or any such nonsense because they clearly do not.

    Now is Trout’s defense worth those 36 offensive runs that he is lacking? Doubt it. Does it justify accounting for 6.4% of their offensive production less than Cabrera? Nope. Nevermind the fact that Trout isn’t even the best center fielder on his team, so he actually is of marginal defensive value. (see that wimpy thing that he tries to call an arm).

    Now you may say, wait, Trout didn’t play a full season. Nevermind the fact that that already makes him less valuable to his team (try and tell me that him not playing somehow helps his team because it doesn’t). Lets look at what would happen if he played the full season, which is ridiculous because a.) he did not play the entire season, b.) it is moronic to think that his numbers would keep the pace over the rest of the season because, as we all know, Trout played an amazing June and July and has since faded into obscurity in August and September when the team needed him most. Stats in April/early May are not too encouraging either. But anyway, lets take a look…

    Trout production of 212 runs in 639 AB vs Cabreras 699 AB. Difference of 60 ABs. 212/639 * 60 = 20. Still not there.

    Just for giggles lets look at strikeouts. I mean it is obviously extremely helpful in run production. As you said yourself strikeouts tell you how much more a pitcher dominated a hitter.

    Cabrera-98 K

    Trout-139K (139/639) * 60 = 13 more strikeouts!!! So either 41 more strikeouts or 54, you decide. Sure looks like Trout got dominated quite a bit more to me.

    So with that, the better offensive player, Cabrera. Better defensive player Trout. Is Trout’s defense good enough to cover the disparity in runs? That’s doubtful. Number of games played obviously goes to Cabrera.

    So based on the rules of the ballot, it is quite obvious that Cabrera is the best choice. .

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    • Fatalotti says:

      This is one awful argument. All of your points have been dismantled in prior posts, but let me take a swing:

      First off, you do realize that just adding runs and RBI together, and claiming that he “created” all these runs is wrong, right? If Miguel hits a homerun, he gets credited with a run and an RBI, but his team only scores once. So, in reality, Cabrera created 204 runs, or 28.1$ of his team’s production.

      Trout created 182 runs, or 23.7% of his team’s runs. Still favors Cabrera, but narrows the gap a bit.

      And if we look at runs created per Cabrera’s 697 PA, Trout was on pace to create 199 runs if he got to 697 PA. You’re telling me that his defensive advantages don’t make up for a 5 run difference, when it’s clear that Trout added positive value to his team with his defense and Miggy added negative value. I would say that the defense makes up for even the 22 runs created deficiency, and then some.

      And your parsing of the data to claim that Trout “faded into obscurity” after July ended is so wrong-headed, it’s comical. He had an .883 OPS from Aug-Sept while hitting 12 HR, scoring 49 runs and stealing 18 bases. How in the hell is that “fading into obscurity”?

      Even if I concede that in a context-neutral world, Cabrera was a slightly better offensive player (which is not the case, but for arguments sake), Trout is just so far and away the better defensive player and base runner, that it’s ridiculous to claim that Cabrera was the better/more valuable player.

      But you know, Cabrera won the Triple Crown. No mention of the fact that Trout led in Runs, Stolen Bases and wOBA/wRC+. Do those numbers not count? And I guess only games played in September count.

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      • Nicolas08 says:

        September and April, but what does Mike Trout know about those months!

        Also, where is this notion that runs are more important than RBIs coming from? (which I implied from your statement) That is equally as dependent on teammates unless Mike Trout repeatedly stole home.

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  80. Old School says:

    Just let it go Cameron and let Miggy enjoy his Triple Crown & MVP – both which he deserves.

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  81. Wes says:

    I’d like to state, through zero research and planning, that Miggy won the triple crown because Jose Bautista hurt himself…. Ok, downvote.

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  82. Tom says:

    It’s amusing that folks still think WAR is context neutral.

    Apparently the guys hitting after a player has zero impact on BSR.

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    • Tom says:

      Or for that matter the score, the inning, the depth of the flyball, the quality of the OF’r, the 3rd base coach, the # of outs

      Clearly by looking solely at which fielder fielded the ball and how many bases the runner advanced or didn’t advance, an accurate assessment of baserunning value can be done.

      I have no doubt Trout has better baserunning value, but the # assigned to that value has little meaning as I have no idea what the standard error in the model is.

      It’s similar with UZR (though probably not as bad). I don’t think anyone here would think Alfonso Soriano had the most defensive value of any left fielder in the game this year, yet that is the # that gets stuffed into the WAR model.

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      • CJ says:

        You are confusing “WAR”, a framework that says “add up how good people are in individual parts of the game” and “fWAR”, an implementation of that framework.

        You can literally use ANY statistics for each part. Regress UZR 90%! Use FSR instead! Use a mean of all appropriately regressed fielding metrics! Use Runs Created for offense! Use BA * 100 for offense! These are all legitimate frameworks. Go ahead and use them if they make you feel better.

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      • Tom says:

        Yet noone actually does the regression and instead just says X vs Y. Nobody actually published the standard error of the component input into WAR which would help a regression analysis. When some of the data is not public, do we just assume an error? Assume a level of accuracy?

        The problem is since WAR spits out a #, noone bothers to even look at component level regression. When was the last time an author on this SABR site actually considered a regression when looking at a yearly WAR figure… regression here is using 3 years of WAR and averaging it for a baseline.

        And I’m not confusing fWAR and WAR….since we are on a site called Fangraphs, I’m for some strange reason using the framework and inputs they have chosen here (I know, that’s silly) – since the author of this very article makes the claim they are context neutral and isolate out individual skill (or value)

        When folks say X WAR > Y WAR, what is the confidence level on it? The problem as the stats have become more mainstream, noone seems to care and are just happy to have a # spit out.

        It’s kind of hard to intelligently do a regression on some of the models when some of them are black boxes and the error in the inputs is an unknown.

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      • Who? says:

        That is fair, but you don’t even need to look at WAR or the baserunning and defense components of WAR to see that Trout has been the better offensive player this year. See this article (yet strangely Verducci puts Cabrera over Trout in his final ballot):

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/tom_verducci/09/25/miguel-cabrera-triple-crown/index.html

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  83. Noodle Arm says:

    If these metrics are scientific, are they being published in peer review journal articles? Just a question (maybe they are), because academic articles will publish this stuff – if it meets the scientific criteria.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  84. GWR says:

    What run expectancy matrix does fangraphs use to calculate RE24, baseball ref has Encarnacion ahead of trout at 56.6 to 53.8. if you wanted to play Devils advocate you could point out that Cabrera leads the lead int RE24/boLI which would be making the argument that RE24 that context doesn’t matter. interestingly if Cabrera wins the MVP it will be the second year in a row that voter chose a triple crown winner from Detroit of a toolsy outfielder who had a a great season on a team failed to make the post season. only differance was that last year is was Verlander picked over Ellsbury.

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  85. JG says:

    Ladies and gentlemen of fangraphs: CF is not a more difficult position than 3B. They have exactly the same positional adjustment. There are better methods of arguing for Trout than wrong things.

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  86. Martini says:

    I think Mike Trout should win the MVP.
    That being said, I also love and respect baseball’s history. The Triple Crown is part of this history.
    As a kid, looking at my dad’s old baseball cards, I loved his Yaz card because he was the last person to hit for the Triple Crown. Did I know that the RBI was an opportunity driven stat, and not entirely skill based? No. But I did know that it hadn’t happened since 1967 so it must be pretty damn hard to do.
    So as today approached, I saw the countless articles discussing the MVP debate, and I got it. Trout’s awesome. He deserves the award. Cabrera doesn’t run well. He doesn’t field well. And Trout, at worst, is slightly inferior to Miggy with the stick.
    But today, the day after Cabrera joins the company of Mantle, Williams, Foxx, Hornsby, and Gehrig, the day after Cabrera wins the first Triple Crown in 45 fricken years, we get more of this MVP bullshit.
    Nothing on the best and most consistent hitter in the game today (highest wOBA form 09-12, 10-12, and 11-12). Nothing on the rarity in today’s game that is a power hitter who rarely strikes out (of the players with the top 30 ISO’s over the past 3 years (Cabrera is 3rd) he’s one of only 5 players with a K% under 14%). Nothing at all on one of the rarest and most impressive (all be it arbitrary) feats a batter can achieve.

    I enjoy advanced statistics, but there’s a time and a place to celebrate baseball’s history and put down the damn narrative.
    Today was that day.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JG says:

      The Triple Crown was covered extensively by other outlets and most people on FG dislike the component stats (maybe not home runs, but certainly the other two stats).

      But it definitely would have been nice to at least acknowledge the extremely rare event that happened. It won’t take anything away from Trout, I swear.

      Cabrera has been a bit overshadowed on the site; I don’t know whether it’s from a conscious attempt to keep him from getting press because Trout deserves the MVP more (unlikely for FG as a whole; maybe for some writers) or because most baseball fans already know he is good, or maybe just because he’s bad at defense and baserunning and lumbering sluggers just aren’t really the “glitzy” players of the modern age of sabermetrics.

      tldr: Giving Cabrera some credit for his extremely rare feat and sustained feat-doing-ness doesn’t magically take away from how awesomely awesome/amazingly amazing Trout was this year.

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      • the fume says:

        that’s interesting, the positional adjustment and fielding components are relatively new to valuing baseball players and is something that the old guard doesn’t really acknowledge or believe. so maybe the fact that the mvp race is the poster-boy of the old guard (TC) vs. the poster-boy of the new guard (exceptional SB rate, gold glove defense, (and still exceptional hitting)) is just putting fuel on the fire.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        Positional adjustment isn’t new. It’s always more impressive for an up the middle position to have great offense. And that’s reflected in the awards. Pedroia in 08 Jimmy Rollins in 07, Pudge in 99. Hell, even Rizzuto and Berra in the 50s.

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  87. Frank in LAA of A says:

    Awesome article. Send it to all the BBWAA clowns who vote on this anticipated Cabrera landslide.

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  88. Eric in SoCal says:

    Interesting observation. But I submit that even still I find an unwitting bias that fails to identify the real value of Mike Trout.

    “Ignore things like going first to third on a single…”

    Dude. I have seen Mike Trout go FROM FIRST TO HOME on a single!

    It won’t last forever, but Trout in 2012 was actually BETTER than merely “first to third on a single”.

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    • Michael says:

      I still remember BJ Upton jogging a stand up triple against the White Sox in the playoffs in ’08. Now that’s roadrunner speed!

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      • Eric in SoCal says:

        I’ll see your jogging triple, and raise you a score from second on an infield hit:

        “But it was Trout, the rookie phenom, who left his footprints all over Safeco Field, chasing down several balls in the outfield and scoring from second on an infield single.

        ‘Speed kills,’ Hunter said. ‘When you get a guy like that on base, it just creates havoc for pitchers, for infielders, for outfielders. His speed is unbelievable.’ ”

        http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/01/sports/la-sp-0901-angels-mariners-20120901

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  89. MajorDanby says:

    who cares about this, man. you need to create a metric to compare obama and romney.

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  90. deadhead says:

    11100010110010101110000101010101011100010101010001110101010101010110001010100101011101010101010001011111100101101011110000110101010101

    (Narrative free comment submitted for those who despise writer’s using a narrative.)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  91. deadhead says:

    How about this…
    Trout replaces AJax – Tigers in playoffs.
    Miggy replaces Alberto Callaspo – Angels in the playoffs.

    Pssst… They’re both really good. You enjoyed watching both play. Ignore the awards if they offend you.

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  92. Del says:

    The game is played on the field not a computer, unless its a video game. Yes Trout has speed and yes Cabrera has power there is no argument here, as well they are both great players. For those of you that feel Cabrera is nothing but power look at his spray chart he uses foul line to foul line. Cabrera was huge down the stretch where Trout hit .260′s. The game is played on a field with variable conditions that cannot be duplicated through putting numbers in a computer and accurately predicting the future. While I realize I am the minority here and yes these measurements can have a place in rating players it is not here, however if I was a general manager trying to sign a free agent this maybe the best predictor of future success as these numbers entered are historical numbers after the fact. I dont care if you use saber metrics, advanced metrics or even the metric system the game is played on the field facing different variables and cannot be standardized player to player just as how every player is pitched to differently or defended differently.

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  93. klondikemike says:

    Won’t deny Trout deserves the MVP. I’m wondering 20 years from now, will people be discussing Trout’s amazing rookie season with the incredible WAR or Cabrera’s triple crown achievement, more.

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  94. Tom says:

    More Posey articles please. Every day there’s more AL MVP debate, it’s getting run into the ground. Besides, Posey bested the great Mike Trout in RE24. (I understand Trout had a better year than Posey, but Buster’s season was one of the greatest catcher seasons ever–better than Yadier’s.)

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      Posey played 114 games at Catcher, Yadier played 136.

      Posey’s been amazing, but let’s not pretend it’s an apples to apples comparison here.

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  95. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I think Trout winning would be cool. But I also think that Miggy winning would as well: RBI may not be the most useful of stats, but it’s been the baseline for the Triple Crown for quite a while, most likely due to being easy to count. I think that when you do something notable like that, that has not been done in 45 years, I can’t really be upset if you win the MVP, even if Trout may be better.

    At the same time, I love me some Mike Trout and he’s been damn good, so I’d love to see him win, too.

    Can we just take the NL MVP and turn it into a second AL MVP? :P

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  96. Scott says:

    I keep hearing national writers completly discount defense/WAR/ speed when picking Cab.
    To them, 3- crown trumps all.
    20 WAR, 30UZR, 100 SB wouldn’t change their mind. not a bit.

    If they switched teams, Detroit would win more and L.A. Less games.

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    • YanksFanInBeantown says:

      That’s not true. There’s a much bigger difference between Cabrera and Callaspo than between Trout and Jackson.

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      • bluethree says:

        “That’s not true. There’s a much bigger difference between Cabrera and Callaspo than between Trout and Jackson.”

        What about the difference between Trout and whatever combination of players that played LF for the Tigers? One would think that they would move Austin Jackson rather than outright replace him.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        Well, then you have to account for the fact that Danny Worth is going to be playing 3rd full time for the Tigers without Cabrera, and compare that to Peter Bourjos playing CF full time for the Angels. The Tigers don’t have anywhere near the depth of the Angels.

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      • Scott says:

        I want a Cabrera voter to tell me under what circumstance they would vote for Trout. Excepting the 3 triple-crown catogory’s.

        What if Trout had a .450 OBP, 75 SB, 150 runs? What if Detroit and the Angel’s both made the plaoffs? Both missed the playoffs?

        I don’t think most Cabrera supports can see past the triple-crown and use “but playoffs”as a crutch to help their argument. I could be wrong.

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  97. Luke says:

    You could make an argument that making your team, in this case the Tigers, go to the postseason is a plus for a MVP candidate, but in this case it shouldn’t even play a part of the choice especially since the Angels had a better record than the Tigers, but do to the great seasons of the A’s and Rangers the Angels didn’t make it to the postseason. I just think since Trout created more runs than Cabrera he was a better offensive player even in his rookie season. Yes the Triple crown is amazing, but Cabrera was not the MVP of the American League especially since the MVP award should be based more on the players’ contribution to the team rather than the players’ individual season. Yes, RBI’s are what I consider a contribution stat, but that is just one stat that Cabrera beat Trout by a good margin. You could make an argument that AVG is a contribution stat, but I consider wOBA to be a better stat than AVG so Trout, from my point of view contributed more from that aspect. So Cabrera will had a nice Triple Crown, but I don’t think a MVP award will go along with his great accomplishment.

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    • tigerdog says:

      I completely disagree. THE objective of a team is to make it to the post season, not to have a better record than another team that did. THE most valuable contribution that a player can make is to push his team into the post season.

      Trout didn’t create more runs than Cabrera. If you are using RC or wRC, that’s taking their individual plate appearances and resetting them into a “context neutral” setting, which never really happened. Cabrera had more RBI + R (248) than Trout (212). Trout saved 24 runs using DRS, and Cabrera was – 4. Total of runs scored and driven in plus runs saved defensively is Cabrera 244, Trout 236.

      Not only did Cabrera make a bigger contribution, based on what actually happened and not what would have happened in different ballparks or different settings, but Cabrera’s contribution was much greater because of what it helped his team accomplish.

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  98. SteveKerr says:

    Why are these 2 events, with identical results in identical run-expectancy situations, given different value?
    9/29 vs Casey Fien, 2 on, 0 out, 3 run HR: +2.04 runs
    4/8 vs Alfredo Aceves, 2 on, 0 out, 3 run HR: +1.99 runs

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  99. Bill King says:

    Quite honestly, this MVP race has brought up some of the best write-up’s I have seen in a while. I love it. I love that we’re looking at all the info available from multiple angles. It’s great for the readers, the game and the future of baseball, regardless of who you vote for – even though Trout should win ;)

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  100. Average Fan says:

    You lost me at “we have a little metric”. I don’t watch baseball with a calculator.

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  101. BaseballFan says:

    THis is easy, of both Trout and Cabrera were actually replaced with replacement level players the Angels would still miss the playoffs, while the Tigers would most likely not. Isn’t that the definition of valuable?

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  102. Tim says:

    Finally, a well-reasoned and non-biased article from Dave laying out why he supports Trout’s MVP. Honestly, the other articles from Dave on this subject have left MUCH to be desired.

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  103. Hitterish says:

    Love me my FanGraphs—you break it down sabremetrically like no other baseball site. You unanimously voted for Mike Trout as your virtual MVP in the AL and he certainly was deserving of it but in reality, deservedly so, that honor went to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. I am not a fan of either team but am one of both players and I certainly would have voted for Trout over Miggy…any other year, just not 2012. Make no mistake, I’m a BIG fan of the new metrics, the number crunching, the WAR (wins-over-replacement) value of players but at the risk of sounding old school, Miguel Cabrera was the runaway MVP not for what he did in the batter’s box or in the field but what he did in the clubhouse. Cabrera is the team’s biggest star along with last year’s Cy Young & MVP, pitching ace Justin Verlander. Cabrera was to split first base and DH duties this year with Victor Martinez who would also catch on occasion. Miguel Cabrera was getting a tad big for the rigors of third base and the club felt he could concentrate his all at the plate and prolong his career with the move to first. Then, before the season even started, the Tigers 2012 hopes appeared dashed when V-Mart tore his left ACL during off-season conditioning, his booming bat to be gone from the line-up for the entire year. There was no replacement that could approach Victor’s production—it looked like the WAR was lost before it began. But just as they were fitting the fair poles at Comerica with white flags, Cabrera volunteered to move to third so the Tigers could sign free-agent first sacker Prince Fielder to a mega contract, one that would eclipse Miguel’s nice salary but not his ego. With that selfless move, Cabrera showed his teammates he was all about winning. He manned third adequately all year, especially considering he was doing that AND hitting virtually on one leg after suffering a severe ankle sprain in the second half. Was Cabrera close to Trout in fielding prowess? Not even in the ballpark. But did Mike the Tyke play out of position like the vet Miggy. No, Senator, he did not. In addition, Miggy gutted (pardon the pun) out 2 months of the year on the wobbly wheel while, through no fault of his own, Mike Trout missed the first month of the year while in the minors (ostensibly to work on being good at baseball…or was it waiting for his arbitration clock to reach team-favorable status? I forget which.) If Miggy missed 2 or 4 weeks down the stretch, are the Motor City Kitties in the playoffs? Don’t think it possible. So, for hopping aside to bring in a WAR-rior Prince as well as for carrying the team to the post season with a finish even better than his outstanding consistent greatness at the plate, to me, Miguel Cabrera earned the 2012 AL MVP. This season, Mike Trout was absolutely superb in his own rite but it is only right that Miguel Cabrera’s total excellence in being the player most valuable to his team in every facet on and off the diamond are honored with it’s highest award.

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  104. AlanB says:

    The best player overall is rather subjective when just looking at the stats. The Most Valuable Player Award is an award that is given to the player that was the most valuable ‘to his team’ in more ways than just stats. It does this by bringing in voters to measure the intangibles with the stats.
    From the beginning, Cabrera accepts the move from 1st to 3rd, and puts in the added effort to –at least- become passable at third by losing weight before the training camp even began. This is a loyalty and character measurement; part of the considerations for Most Valuable Player.
    From a purely statistical viewpoint, WAR, RE24, and other stats (offensive and especially defensive) all seem to suggest that Trout had the better season than Cabrera. But, did he have the better season than Cabrera? Someone who was rarely challenged by hitters, despite having a feared hitter like Fielder behind him?
    Here’s where Cabrera beats Trout by a mile, offensively: 139 to 98 in 139 to 161 games. Now, most people have figured out that was the strikeout totals for each player and comparison of the number of games between both. But, just these numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, and why this is even more impressively lopsided than it first indicates.
    Cabrera was hardly pitched to. He barely got any good pitches to hit. Whereas: if Trout was rarely pitched to then he was swinging at a lot of bad pitches, or he simply couldn’t make contact with the ball nearly as well as Cabrera. This intangible element cannot be directly measured because it makes players around Cabrera better; but how do you measure that?
    If advanced metrics try to measure overall offensive performance, do they have way to account for all the missed scoring opportunities by whiffing so much at better pitches to hit compared to another player?
    Cabrera played in more games than Trout; another consideration for determining the MVP. Sure, this is no fault of Trout’s, but you have to then couple this with another fact. Even when Trout was otherworldly, Cabrera was still being the ‘most valuable player’ to his team. Who was MVP at the end of July? Mike Trout.
    But, the season didn’t end before August, 1st. There was two months left, and during these two months Mike Trout was still pretty strong. His OBP was still great, his WAR was at the top –overall- but he was not even close to how good he was the previous months. Despite this, Angels didn’t miss a beat when it came to winning. This suggests that Mike Trout wasn’t as valuable to the team as his stats indicated.

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  105. AlanB says:

    Simply put, does this article take into account the type of pitches each batter faced? Is there some kind of adjustment for this? We all know Trout seen better pitches that Cabrera. This makes Cabrera’s hitting all the more impressive.

    The intentionally walked Cabrera to get to Fielder, for example. They pitched around Cabrera.

    Despite this, Trout had far more strikeouts because Cabrera was better at making contact. Contact creates bigger pitch counts, wears the opposing player down more, and so forth.

    Plate presence plays a role in baseball, just like baserunning. At face value, 49 steals seems like a huge advantage over something that is rather tiny on the individual level. But, you add that tiny thing over the course of the season, then it’s something that is probably only measurable if you watch every single pitch, and is extremely significant over the course of the year in adding to players around Cabrera.

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  106. AlanB says:

    Detroit’s 4th batter had a 5.0 oWAR.
    Detroit’s 5th batter had a -0.7 oWAR.
    Detroit’s 6h batter was mainly someone with a -0.4 oWAR, sometimes 1.1 oWAR

    Angel’s 2nd batter had mainly a 4.0 oWAR
    Angel’s 3rd batter had mainly a 3.8 oWAR
    Angel’s 4th batter had mainly a 2.6 oWAR

    If you add up the total of oWAR for the Angels and Tigers it would come out as the following:

    Angels: 33
    Tigers: 19

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  107. AlanB says:

    Cabrera accounted for roughly 39.4% of Detroit’s oWAR
    Trout accounted for roughly 0.26% of the Angels oWAR

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  108. AlanB says:

    Oops, Trout accounted for roughly 26.1% of Angel’s oWAR.

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  109. Jason says:

    Truth be told either guy is deserving of the award but if you are going based on the value of a player then you have to consider both sides of the game. Baseball unlike football is a two way sport and you have to consider all aspects of the game. If you do then it is a clear case of who adds more to his team. But the writers will choose Cabrera and those of us who appreciate more then just hitting will be left disappointed.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tigerdog says:

      Truth be told, either player is deserving of the award, but if you are going based on the value of a player TO HIS TEAM, then you can not ignore the actual impact that the player’s contribution had to the team. If one player’s contribution results in making the post season, and the other results in a third place finish, then it seems clear which player provided the greater value to his team. You can not claim to be considering the more relevant factors if you ignore the actual impact of the player’s contribution to his team.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Hawk Harrelson says:

        What I saw from the Tigers in September was that they had one of the most dominate pitching in baseball. Combined with the collapse of the White Sox earned them a playoff berth. Without those two factors, maybe they get in or maybe they don’t.

        The Angels were 6-14 before Trout was called up. With Trout they finished the season 83-59 .584. Cabrera played 162 games and the Tigers finished the season 88-74 .543. Factor in the Tigers play in a much weaker division than the Angels.

        I’m not sure I’m buying the Cabrera was more valuable to his team because they got into the playoffs.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tigerdog says:

        Hawk (oooh gawd, that name!), value is in making the playoffs, not in accumulating wins. Take Cabrera off the Tigers and I don’t think anyone can say they’d be playing in October. Take Trout off the Angels, and they’re either third or fourth.

        You don’t need to stop counting value when you get to runs, or wins. Value is in what the player helped his team accomplish. It’s been that way since the BBWAA started awarding the MVP. The best players with the best performances, including triple crown winners such as Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig, didn’t get the MVP because their teams didn’t win the pennant. (and BTW, there hasn’t been a triple crown winner since there was anything but the pennant to play for. There were no divisions, wild cards, etc)

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      • Marc says:

        Angels won 89 games. Tigers won 88.

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  110. Don Brown says:

    From 1955 – 1970 the NL had arguably the 3 of the best players ever – Mays, Clemente, Aaron (someone would have to work the numbers for me). In those 15 years they must have won 8, 9 10 MVP’s between them, right? No only 4. Why? The MVP is meant to be a measure of a players worth to his team not who is the (perceived) better player.

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    • TheJoeFrom1993 says:

      In 1991, Cal Ripken won the MVP award for the 6th place Orioles. The Orioles also had the 2nd worst record in the American League that year.

      Ripkin had a B-Ref WAR of 11.3 and a FanGraphs WAR of 11.1
      While WAR was not readily available in 1991, the BBWAA still deemed that the best player in the league was worthy of the MVP award.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/1991.shtml

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      • tigerdog says:

        There are exceptions, always, but there will be many more examples of the “best player” not getting the MVP because his team did not make the playoffs, than situations like this.

        I don’t think it is “necessary” as Dave suggests in the article for a player to be on a team that reaches the post season, but it has always been one important factor to measure “value” to the BBWAA voters. To ignore it completely is a departure from the criteria that has traditionally been applied.

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  111. Does RE24 take walks into account?

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  112. Why isnt a SO penalized twice in RE24? Once for not scoring the runner and once for not getting on base yourself.

    A hit is rewarded twice if a runner scores. A SO should be penalized twice.

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  113. WAR uses a defensive metric that only becomes viable after 3 seasons of data.

    Not saying Trout isnt a great defender because both my eyes and Fielding F/X tell me he is, just that to include WAR in the argument is not utilizing an accurate measure of the value of the players in question.

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    • tigerdog says:

      The biggest problem with pinning an MVP argument on WAR, IMO, is that it makes it too easy for members of the mainstream media- they of the head in sand school of thought- to criticize one statistic, and brand all supporters of saber like stats as WAR mongers. The arguments made here are much more accurate, thoughtful, and less subject to attack and to stereotyping without resorting to WAR.

      I think this discussion has been great, and will advance the use of statistics in a very good way.

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  114. sarabjeet says:

    I really like that you are giving information on PHP MYSql .Being enrolled at http://www.wiziq.com/course/5871-php-mysql-with-basic-javascript-integrated-course i found your information very helpful indeed. Thanks for it.

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  115. Tristan says:

    It doesn’t help that Cameron is already bias for Trout. Anyone can see the MVP issue both ways.

    http://www.startwedman.com/2012/10/a-biased-look-into-mvp-race.html

    Perfect explanation.

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    • tigerdog says:

      I take Dave to be completely sincere in this presentation, no matter that he favors Trout for MVP, and I appreciate bringing RE24 into the MVP discussion. Much of the concern over saber stats being used to support Trout are neutralized in RE24.

      For me, Trout still falls short on the point of “valuable to his team” because the impact that he made, as great as that was, did not have the same impact on his team as Cabrera’s contribution. I said the same thing to Tiger fans in 2010, when Hamilton’s team made the playoffs even while he missed the month of September, and Cabrera’s team didn’t.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tristan says:

        Personally I think that RE24 is an incomplete stat. Especially when comparing two players. It doesn’t take into account the varying pitches that each player sees or the runs that are subsequently created after.

        Why should a player be valued less for hitting a 0 out double then when he hits a 2 out double? A double ignites a team either way correct?

        RE24 doesn’t take into account that Cabrera saw more breaking balls while Trout saw more fastballs over the course of the year. Tell me which one is easier to hit.

        RE24 is a neat metric, but incomplete and not great in differentiating these two players in an MVP race.

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  116. Tim says:

    MVP Karma War (heh)

    This would be karma for both the BBWAA copulating the canine with George Bell over Alan Trammel in 1987 and Don Baylor ( 3.5 WAR) over Freddy Lynn ( 8.6 WAR) in 1980

    Circle of life man….

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  117. RBI Man says:

    I’m a first time poster so be gentle with me.

    Only one person(GWR) has mentioned that Cabrera lead the league in RE24/boLI, which I believe represents the raw numbers before they get “leveraged” into RE24. Nobody responded to his post.

    Is this correct? It seems that Trout gets credit in all leveraged offensive stats because Anaheim was a pitcher’s park even though Trout hit better at home.

    If this is true, it would be only fair to point this out as most fans lack the initiative to investigate these formulas and blindly trust the ingrediants that you put into you soup.

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  118. Carmelo J. Corica says:

    The award is “Most Valuable Player”. Even admitting that Trout had the greatest offensive season in the history of baseball, how valuable was he to the Angels? They didn’t even make the playoffs. The Angels could have not made the playoffs without Trout. I don’t think the Tigers make the playoffs without Cabrera. I still vote for Miguel Cabrera as the Most Valuable Player.

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    • Dan says:

      Question for you, Carmelo: Is there a hypothetical season that Trout could have had that would convince you to vote for him, despite the fact that his team just issed the playoffs (with a better record than the Tigers, in a tougher division than the AL Central)? What would that season look like?

      In reality, Trout was about 71% better than the league average hitter in 2012 (for comparison, Cabrera was about 65% better). Let’s say, hypothetically, that Trout was 130% better than league average (a typical peak Babe Ruth season) and let’s say, again hypothetically, that everyone on the Angels pitching staff gets hurt and they win 89 games anyway, due in large part to Trout’s performance, but they again barely miss the playoffs. Would you vote for him then?

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    • jim says:

      the tigers don’t make the playoffs without the white sox going 4-11 after september 18

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  119. Juan Chapa says:

    Cabrera was asked to play 3b this year, in order to accomodate
    Detroit’s acquisition of another power hitter to play 1b. On top
    of this, Cabrera ends putting up big numbers, essentially
    giving baseball’s Triple Crown to him! And, Detroit is
    going to the World Series! There is no question on the impact
    Cabrera had on this team. Trout’s numbers do not come
    close. Sure he had a major impact on the Angels, but the
    Angels did not even make the play-offs! Cabrera earned the
    M.V.P. , and deserves to be awarded to him.

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    • Dan says:

      Same question for you, Juan, that I had above:

      Is there a hypothetical season that Trout could have had that would convince you to vote for him, despite the fact that his team just issed the playoffs (with a better record than the Tigers, in a tougher division than the AL Central)? What would that season look like?

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  120. Chris says:

    Just curious – was there any reason to re-post this than to bring it back to the front page of fangraphs? I don’t see any new information.

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    • Nick says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I’m saw the front page and was amazed that Dave got 430+ comments in a couple hours only to realize this exact article was posted a month ago.

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    • cody k says:

      no way, I guy who originally rose to prominence by making the PECOTA baseball projection system has an opinion on baseball?

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  121. Michigan Matt says:

    How come nobody’s talking about this!?!

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  122. sporkless says:

    So, to summarize this post: Edwin Encarnacion for MVP!

    (j/k)

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  123. LondonStatto says:

    Erm, according to this (and WPA) Cabrera isn’t even the most valuable Detroit Tiger.

    I think we can treat this with as much seriousness as it deserves!

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  124. jim says:

    we fight a losing war, friends

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  125. Marc says:

    Why does Trout get punished for not making the playoffs when his Angels actually won more regular season games (in a tougher division) than Cabrera and the Tigers?

    This baffles me.

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  126. Kazinski says:

    Best argument I’ve heard for Cabrera is the one Mitch Williams had last night on Baseball tonight. MVP has a long history of not always being the best player, but the most valuable to his team. Williams pointed out that if Mike Trout wasn’t on the Angels they very likely would have still been 3rd in their division. Without Cabrera the Tigers wouldn’t have been 1st in the AL Central or made the playoffs at all.

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  127. TroutFan says:

    wahhhhh, why didn’t trouty win?!?! My TI-83 said he shoulda won! WAHHHHHH

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  128. Mitt Romney says:

    I’m shellshocked and currently wiping away the tears from the faces of Dave Cameron and Keith Law

    2012 IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  129. 1800 I told you so says:

    Ultimate FAIL. Sabermetrics is doomed.

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  130. Brian G says:

    I want to start off by saying I am new to this site and this is my first post. I also would like to say right up front that I am “old school” and dream of the day when baseball becomes as important a sport to the every day man as it was in days gone by. Never gonna happen but oh well.

    I have read most of this blog and I find it fascinating. I never once thought Miggy wouldn’t be the hand down AL MVP. Triple Crown (1st in almost 50yrs), 1st in slugging, OPS, 2nd in runs scored (Trout 1).

    In comparison to Trout:

    He had 56 more RBI’s than Trout, 56!!, He also played in all but 1 game, 23 more than Trout, had 40 fewer strikouts with alot more at bats (putting the ball in play matters, the Hell with DP’s, no hitter is going strike out if he can help it). Defensively he played more innings than any other 3rd baseman and was in the top 2 or 3 in fielding percentage .966, so he made most of the plays he should have and certainly didn’t hurt his team defensively.

    Trout was obviously way better in all speed categories (Runs, SB, Triples) and played a more premium position and played it well but that shouldn’t give him the MVP nod.

    And to me the most important of all is what impact did the player have in the their teams standing in their division. After all we are talking about the Most Valuable Player, and to me that means with out the player where does the team stand in the play-off run, after all, that is every teams ultimate goal.

    If Miggy isn’t playing for Detroit not only do they not make the play-off’s, Detroit finishes way down in their division, maybe even the bottom. His September was amazing, The Angels probably finish around the same with or wthout Trout.

    That gives Miggy a PISAR (Place in Standings Above Replacement) of +4 and Trout with a 0 or at best a +1 PISAR.

    BTW, for those of you that are wondering, I made up PISAR.

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