Sabermetrics Doesn't Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP

Mike Trout is the most valuable player in the American League. Miguel Cabrera is not. This is as clear as it could possibly be, and is not a matter of opinion, but rather a objective, verifiable, mathematical fact. Another who argues otherwise either is a) defining ‘most valuable player’ in an illogical, arbitrary way b) has not seen the math or c) is stupid.

Let’s start with the pure arithmetic: Without even considering position, Mike Trout was the best hitter in the American League. His .324/.397/.561 was good for 170 OPS+, .421 wOBP and 174 wRC+, all tops in the league. His 57.2 batting runs contributed edges out Miguel Cabrera’s 56.1 batting runs contributed, despite playing 22 fewer games. Add in the production of a replacement player filling in for those 22 games and purely on hitting Trout is the clear MVP by a significant margin.

Of course, that’s not everything. Miguel Cabrera plays third base, poorly. Mike Trout plays center and left field, incredibly well. How well? We don’t really know. If UZR is your choice metric, Trout was worth +13.3 runs on defense over the average center fielder, while Miguel Cabrera was worth -9.2 runs. But the numbers don’t actually matter. What’s important is that Miggy was a negative contributor on defense while Trout was a positive contributor. This is not a fact in dispute. If you thought that there was some sort of tie on offense between the two players, this basic fact should automatically break it. You don’t need any magical fairy dust “math” to reach that conclusion – but the magical fairy dust confirms it just as well.

And there’s one more tie breaker that hasn’t even been considered yet: base running. Mike Trout stole 48 bases while somehow only managing to get caught 4 times – a 92% success rate. Fangraphs rates Trout’s baserunning value at 6.8 runs, which is a fairly conservative estimate. If you believe that the Angels won less than one full game than they otherwise would have had Trout been an average baserunner, you believe that estimate. Regardless, Miguel Cabrera is slow, well-below average baserunner, and Trout is arguably the best in the league.

The result? Miguel Cabrera winds up worth a very respectable 7.3  fWAR, just over his 2011 7.2 fWAR total, and good for third best in the league. But Mike Trout? 10.3 WAR in 138 games, good for the best fWAR season since Barry Bonds retired, not even Albert Pujols at his best was better. That’s how good Mike Trout has been. He wasn’t just better than Miguel Cabrera, he was better than Miguel Cabrera and Derek Jeter combined.

But you don’t need any fancy math to come to this conclusion. By any objective standard, Mike Trout was a better hitter than Miguel Cabrera. Mike Trout was one of the best defenders in the league at his position while Miguel Cabrera was one of the worst. Mike Trout was probably the game’s best baserunner while Miguel Cabrera was close to the bottom. Done, full stop. There’s no room for Miguel Cabrera to be a better player.

But of course, that won’t stop the stupid arguments. Let’s just go through those:

Illogically Defining Most Valuable Player

The Angels did not make the playoffs. The Tigers won wthe American League Central, and make the playoffs. Under the argument that an MVP should lead his team to winning enough games to earn a playoff birth, Miguel Cabrera may be the player who deserves the award.

Leaving aside the absurdity of the notion that a player can’t be the most valuable player in the league while the club he plays doesn’t make the playoffs in a team sport, let’s just face some basic reality here. The Anaheim Angels won more games this season than the Detroit Tigers. Just because the AL Central was such a terrible division this year that the Chicago White Sox were actually a contending team does not mean that all of the sudden you give Miguel Cabrera credit for being traded into that division. Anyone making this argument is a moron. I’m looking at you, Harold Reynolds.

But wait, maybe Miguel Cabrera was more valuable to his team. Maybe he’s a one-man (oh, wait) wrecking crew that single-handedly made his team a winning one. We have a great counter factual for Mike Trout on this one. On April 28th, when the Angels called him up, the team was in a 6-14 freefall, good for second-worst in the league. After the date, the Angels went 83-59, a pace which would have made them the best team in the American League over a full season.

A lot of other things went on after Mike Trout was called up, like Albert Pujols hitting again. But that doesn’t change the fact that after Mike Trout joined the team they went from being the second worst team in the league to being the best team in the league.

We don’t have this counter factual for Miguel Cabrera to compare, but Mike Trout’s run is pretty stunning.

Being either willfully ignorant or really, really stupid

Let me start this off: I don’t want to immediately label everyone who believes that because Miguel Cabrera should be the AL MVP because he is likely to win the first Triple Crown in a long time as a stupid person. Many people who casually consume the game have not been exposed to arguments elevated by the last ten years of baseball commentary. They might be sincerely intelligent people who passively consume the sport they love but haven’t heard about these magical things like basic rate statistics and defense. I accept that, even though these types of people probably aren’t reading this blog right now. They aren’t stupid; they’re just casual baseball fans.

But the types of genuine idiots writing and saying stuff like this aren’t in that category. They write about baseball for a living, or at least as part of a devoted hobby, and are actually arguing that because Miguel Cabrera leads the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in that he should be the MVP over Mike Trout. They are not by any stretch of the imagination people who have not been exposed to very basic, mathematically true, concepts about what we know makes a good baseball player.

The only explanation for believing that Miguel Cabrera was a more valuable baseball player than Mike Trout while being exposed to modern-day information about what makes a good baseball player is that you are a stupid person. I don’t know, maybe some of the people linked to above are not stupid people (I like to think that Tyler Kepner is smart), but they if they aren’t they should prove it by not writing incredibly stupid things.

If you believe that Miguel Cabrera was better than Mike Trout, you are wrong. A coherent argument does not exist to support what you believe.  You are more wrong than the people who believe that Big Foot and Nessie exist. You should stop writing about baseball, before you hurt yourself.

I am not going to make the argument that the Triple Crown categories do not prove that Cabrera is a better player. These arguments have been made, and are settled. Just like I wouldn’t start debating someone who believes that evolution is false or there are alien-made canals on Mars, I am not going down that path. At some point, you just stop trying to persuade the unpersuadable, and let them inhabit their own little fake reality.

This is not a matter of being a traditionalist or sabermetrics or whatever the hell you want to call it these days. Mike Trout was a better hitter this season than Miguel Cabrera. Mike Trout was a much better baserunner than Miguel Cabrera. Mike Trout was a much better defensive player than Miguel Cabrera. Sabermetrics does not have a monopoly on not-stupid. Mike Trout is the AL MVP.

The statistics in this post are accurate to 11:15 PM on Wednesday night.

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He lives and works in Washington, DC.

52 thoughts on “Sabermetrics Doesn't Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP

  1. edb

    Not entirely sure I would disagree but I do think you have to look at the second third and fourth best players on the Angels and Tigers–perhaps even the entire 25 man roster as well. While you’re argument for how bad the Angels started the season and how well they finished is sound, one could argue that the rest of the team just had a rough month (See Yankees August 2012). I mean by that logic does Arod get 6th place MVP votes for the Yankees record when he’s in the lineup vs when he’s out? The Angels may have a better supporting cast regardless of the April record, so if you subtract Miggy and Trout from their respective teams the Angels should theoretically have a better record so the argument about the Angels having more wins may be flawed. Again, I’m not saying you’re wrong at all as I haven’t looked into any of those numbers but just presenting a possible alternative point of view.

    • Eric

      The Tigers supporting cast is pretty good. They have a possible CY young winner in Justin Verlander, their pitching has been really, really good and they have this other pretty good hitter named Prince Fielder. O yea just to reiterate, they have a WORSE RECORD than the Angels.

    • The numbers are available and easy to find. If you have time, you should look into them. It answers pretty much all of the questions that you have.

      If you list out the top players on each team, you get:

      Angels: Trout (10.4 WAR), Hunter (5.2), Pujols (3.9), Aybar (3.5), Weaver (3.0)

      Tigers: Cabrera (7.3), Verlander (6.8), Jackson (5.5), Fielder (5.0), Fister (3.8)

      The Tigers had a much better front-line supporting crew for Cabrera, and despite this, Trout’s Angels were a better team. Why? In part because Mike Trout was that much better than Cabrera, and everyone else in the AL.

      Over 162 games, Trout would have been on pace for 12 WAR, which is equivalent to one of Barry Bonds’ monster MVP seasons, and no one besides Bonds has come close to matching since 2002.

      • edb

        Nice job–thanks for clearing that up. great argument.

  2. Lazlo's Other

    The problem with posts like this one is that you don’t really know where the author stands on the issue….

    • What, I wasn’t clear? :)

      • Lazlo's Other

        Sarcasm. The article was a tad strident, though the points were all valid.

  3. Brian Dewey

    I guess I’m an idiot because I don’t believe Trout is the MVP. He didn’t play the whole season. April he did nothing and his Average in August and September were sub .300 while Cabrera finished out strong when the pressure was highest in September. While the pressure was highest Trout was the worst in September. Pressure plays a huge factor in performance. Cabrera put up his numbers in a pitcher friendly ballpark as well.

    • Cabrera did not put up huge numbers in a pitcher friendly ballpark. Comerica park has consistently played over the past few years as a neutral-to-slight hitters park.

      Link: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

      You know what ballpark actually plays as a pitcher’s park? Angels Stadium of Anaheim, which has consistently been one of the top 5 pitchers parks in the league.

      “August and September” and “Pressure” are illogical arguments designed to support a conclusion that has already been reached. Baseball seasons are played over 162 games. Had Oakland won one fewer game in May, it would have failed to win the AL West.

      Had Mike Trout played a whole season, the Angels would likely have won the AL West. However, he did not need 162 games to clearly be a better player than Miguel Cabrera. He was that good.

      • Bo Knows

        That doesn’t change the dimensions of the park, that field is still insanely large and still hard to knock a homer out of it, it’s entirely possible that Cabrera might be one of the main reasons it has played like that.

        Take for example this year, out of 159 homers hit in that park this year, 28 belong to Cabrera, 18 belong to Fielder that’s almost a third of the total homers belonging to two men.

        Also we need to stop diminishing Migggy’s accomplishment. Yes the Triple crown is just 3 of numerous stats, but it is very difficult to lead a league in any 3(or more) categories, whether that be traditional or new stats.

        Cabrera in any other year would deserve to win the MVP (hell I thought he should have won last year) but Trout has had the better all around year.

        I wish that the MLB would create an “Offensive Player of the Year” award so both of these men would be recognized for the things they did. Miguel is the best offensive player, Trout the most complete player this year (which is my personal definition of Valuable)

        • Miguel Cabrera is a really good baseball player. His Triple Crown accomplishment is nothing special. We can arbitrarily define a lot of “Triple Crowns” that are ultimately meaningless. Miguel Cabrera was the 3rd best player in the AL this year. That’s really good, but nothing generational. The Triple Crown is a trivia answer, nothing more.

          Ask yourself: Did Miguel Cabrera have the best season since Yaz’s Triple Crown among all hitters? Did he have a top-10 season over that time? Top 20? The answer is clearly and obviously ‘no’, because they are a meaningless combination of statistics.

          You can assert all sorts of silly things about Comerica Park that you want. Its a hitters park. Coors Field is one of the biggest parks in the league. Field dimensions are far from everything. Detroit hitters hit mildly better at home than the road. Anaheim hitters hit significantly worse at home than on the road. These effects are consistent across years. Full stop, conversation over.

          • Bo Knows

            I of course disagree, to do something that only 10 men have ever done before is a great accomplishment. Just like Trout has done things this year that very few players have ever done before,It is special, also very rarely are we ever going to see a top 10 or even top 20 moment in our lifetimes, baseball has existed for over a 120 years; just like movie plots, there isn’t much we haven’t seen.

          • OldYanksFan

            While not as rare as the Triple Crown, hitting for the Cycle is not a common event. But while it’s uncommon, it is not a measure of greatness.

            Cal Ripken did something the NOBODY else have EVER done. Does that make him the best player in history? The 2nd best? The 10th best?

            By Winning the Triple Crown, we can say Cabrera accomplished a statistcally rare thing. But in itself, that does that mean he has had a better year then every other player.

            Most knowledgable people would agree that wOBA, RC+ and OPS+ are 3 of the most accurate stats to measure OVERALL offense. Trout won in all 3. He also blows Miggy away in Defense, basepath speed and SBs.

            So how you you say Miggy had a better year?

          • John

            It is not who had a better year. It is who is the most valuable player. In other words, who meant more to thier team. Who would you build a team around? Ask the players and coaches. They will tell you. MVP should be the choice of the coaches and players.

          • T.O. Chris

            Wait, you wouldn’t build your team around the 21 year old center fielder who just had the best season in baseball?

          • edb

            I still find the Triple Crown thing fluky…Two counting stats and an avg. I’m sure Miggy didn’t win the HR per plate appearance battle and Jeter had more hits. It just seems contrived…

        • Duh, Innings!

          MVP isn’t about the best season.

          1988 NLMVP Kirk Gibson: 25 HR, 76 RBI

          That’s one of many.

      • John

        You hit the nail on the head. Mike Trout did not play the whole season. Talking about what would have or could have happened if he played the whole season is purely speculation. This can be proven using the standard deviation about the mean of any of his (or any other player’s) statistics. Additionally, you can say “if this and that” for many teams in multiple situations with regard to winning more or fewer games (your oakland example) but the fact is, the games were played and settled as they were. All that matters is getting in the playoffs- Just ask the Cards… So helping your team get there does matter.

  4. Professor Longnose

    The AL MVP is Raul Ibanez. It’s a fact: without him, the Yankees don’t win the division.

    • edb

      Frankie Cervelli for 2nd place?

  5. Pizzaman

    This is, no doubt, an old school vs modern-day statistical debate. You use a lot of modern-day statistics to argue your point and that’s fine.

    When you compare their baserunning, however, you use the old school SB vs CS. What about the sabermetrics here? One look would tell you that Cabrera is not a poor baserunner at all.

    Trout stuck out a lot more than Cabrera, too and, please, don’t compare fielding stats between a 3rd baseman and an outfielder.

    OK, call me stupid if it makes you feel better but I think it’s a toss up.

    • This is not a debate, unless you think that you can have a debate without two sides. It has nothing to do with new school vs old school.

      Mike Trout was a better hitter, fielder, and baserunner. There is no more room for Miguel Cabrera to be a better baseball player. There are uncertainties that we have in trying to figure out how good a baseball player is on defense and baserunning. Those uncertainties do not apply here, therefore there is no question who is better, and it isn’t even close. We can say this with the same certainty that we can say that Robinson Cano was better in 2012 than Nick Swisher.

      Miguel Cabrera was -2.3 runs on the bases this season. He was very poor, which is exactly what you would expect from someone of his size and speed.

      You do not need fancy statistics to figure out that Mike Trout is a very good defender and Miguel Cabrera is not. Anyone can come to that conclusion through any number of ways. How good or how bad is irrelevant, because Mike Trout was a better hitter.

      Any “old school” argument that would make Cabrera a better player has been proven wrong beyond any shadow of a doubt. The debate is over. Nessie does not exist, Big Foot is not in Montana, evolution happened, and the sky is blue.

  6. DB Cooper

    Cabrera should win the MVP award this year. Since Trout is just starting he has his whole career ahead of him to win the award.

    Isn’t that the same logic the Nationals are using for not pitching Strasburg the rest of the playoffs? He’s got the rest of his career to win a world series….

    • Give Derek Jeter the batting title!

    • Nicholas Cote

      When I was a kid, my favorite baseball player was Matt Williams. In 1999, I desperately wanted him to win the MVP. “Chipper Jones is only 27, he’ll have plenty of time to win an MVP,” I would say.

      Chipper never finished higher than 6th in MVP voting after that.

      You give the award to the best player that year. That should be the only consideration. (Let’s ignore that Williams didn’t even deserve 3rd, and Bagwell might have even deserved it over Jones.)

  7. Dan

    So, on a whim, I just looked at WPA and clutch (at least according to fangraphs) to see if you could argue that on a non-rate based, non-predictive stats perspective that cabrera contributed more to his team winning by actually coming up in the clutch and adding big hits.

    Nope, Trout beats him on both categories.

  8. Duh, Innings!

    ‘Just went to Mike Trout’s 2012 Game Log on his Baseball-Reference.com page.

    He played only TWENTY GAMES outside of California, the West Coast, Pacific-Mountain Time, and games with Texas, Cleveland, and Detroit. A dozen of these games were vs. the dregs of the American League (4 Toronto + 3 Boston + 3 Kansas City + 2 Minnesota.) Only one of these teams is guaranteed to go to the ALDS: the Yanks as neither Texas nor Baltimore is guaranteed to make the ALDS as they have to play each other to get there.

    He played only a DOZEN games vs. the AL East but no games vs. Tampa Bay which means he was spared having his batting average be hurt by facing Price/Shields/Hellickon/Cobb/Moore 9 or 10 games like Cabrera had to face. Trout faced the Blue Jays, Yanks, Red Sox, and Orioles 4, 3, 3, and 2 games, respectively. He played only NINE games on the East Coast.

    • Oh man, this one is just a gold mine.

      Anyone have any guesses for what division had the highest winning percentage in baseball?

      Anyone? Yeah, its the AL West, with 87 wins per team.

      Anyone have any guesses for what division had the lowest winning percentage in baseball?

      Anyone?

      • OldYanksFan

        Duh is well named.

        • Duh, Innings!

          Oh yer so funny. My name sure beats your uninspired one.

      • Duh, Innings!

        Um, who had the easiest travel of any MLB team in 2012?

        The Angels cuz they played 81 games at home, 9 in Oakland, 9 in Seattle, 9 in Texas, and 15 vs. the NL West (3 games per team) including 9 vs. Cali teams (SF, LA, SD.)

        How nice – 123 games in only five states (CA, AZ, CO, TX, WA) where the longest planetrip is about 3 hours (LA-Dallas), 114 of them in just two timezones (Pacific and Mountain), 99 of them in California.

        Your MVP candidate barely had to play on (travel to) the East Coast (a whopping NINE games.) He had the luxury of playing the majority of his games in California, Colorado, Texas, Washington, Detroit, and Cleveland. The games he played outside of those games were mostly vs. the dregs of the AL (Minnesota, Royals, Blue Jays, Red Sox.) He had to play only five months of baseball(thereabouts.) He didn’t have to face the Rays who had the best pitching. He faced the Yanks a whopping 3 times.

        It’s not Cabrera’s fault or problem the Twins, Indians, and Royals suck.

        The AL West was the best one by average wins per team cuz the As were good again. If they weren’t good, it’d have been the same half-good (Rangers-Angels), half-bad (As-Ms) thing it’s been for many years with no chance of it being mostly good or mostly bad cuz a fifth team isn’t added to the division. Oh wait, the great AL West will get a 107-loss team in the Houston Astros starting next year.

        Bottom line is the Tigers don’t make the postseason without Cabrera and I’m sure “Was he the biggest reason his team made the postseason?” is one of the top three questions an MVP voter asks.

        Trout’s MVP candidacy is directly tied to the new postseason setup of two wildcard teams. If there weren’t two wildcard teams, his team wouldn’t even be in the postseason picture – neither would the Os – and people wouldn’t be talking about Trout’s candidacy nearly as much as they are.

        Yeah he almost led his team to winning the fifth seed and that makes him more valuable than Cabrera who led his team to a higher seed and division title. PSSSSHHH!!!!

        ‘Dude’s lucky he had a great year this year not 1995-2011 (one wildcard team per league.)

  9. bg90027

    I agree that Trout should be MVP but I think it’s a little closer than you do. I don’t think the defensive component of WAR is reliable enough to really just call this a simple math exercise. Trout is clearly a superior defender though at a more important defensive position. I disagree that performance down the stretch is no more important than performance in May. There was a point in September where the Angels were struggling and Trout had hit around .250 over a long stretch and Cabrera was on fire that I thought Cabrera was narrowing the gap. Ultimately though, Trout rebounded enough that he still had an overall good August/September/October even if it was below his full season numbers. I give Cabrera some credit too for moving to 3B and enabling the Tigers to sign Fielder. On balance though, that and his superior offensive performance down the stretch just isn’t enough to overcome that Trout had the better year taking all facets of the game into consideration.

    • On defense:

      I agree that there is a degree of uncertainty around just how much credit to give fielders and pitchers on the defensive end of the ball, even before you start trying to measure things like UZR or DRS. UZR has its flaws and all, especially over the course of one season. I don’t think that you need a specific number to come to the right conclusion though, because the offensive numbers are clear. Trout was a better player on offense.

      And I don’t think you really need to stretch it to say that even if we don’t know precisely how good Trout was on defense, that it puts him over the top. No one–either statistically or just by watching him play–that Trout is a really good defensive outfielder. How good? We don’t know. UZR says 13.3 runs, which sounds reasonable. Even if its +/- 5 runs, it doesn’t really change the math. At the same time, pretty much no one disagrees that Miguel Cabrera was a bad defensive 3b, even if he’s +/- 5 runs from his -9 UZR.

      There isn’t really a universe out there where the statistics are wrong enough that Trout is the bad defensive player and Cabrera is the good one.

  10. Duh, Innings!

    Actually, you’re the one who’s stupid.

    Mike Trout played the majority of his games in California and two timezones: Pacific and Mountain. How nice he barely had to travel far to play games, especially since he missed almost all of the first month of 2012 because he wasn’t good enough to make the Angel’s 2012 Opening Day roster. He had no full book on him unlike Cabrera who everyone knows AND STILL GOT KILLED BY – let’s see how Trout does next year with a full book on him. He didn’t lead his team to the division title like Miguel Cabrera did (spare me “the AL Central was the easiest division to win” when the Angels and Rangers have been dominating the AL West for years.) Cabrera produced more runs than Trout playing half the time in a pitcher’s park (Comerica Park) plus more time (27-28 more games assuming Detroit played Seattle 9-10X) in pitcher’s parks like Target and Safeco Fields. Cabrera played all but one game. The Tigers don’t make the postseason without Cabrera, the Angels still don’t make the postseason without Trout. Also Cabrera hit .298 or better in EVERY MONTH including October unlike Trout who slipped in August and .257 wilted in September.

    BTW the MVP is not always about stats – see 1988 NLMVP Kirk Gibson with his 25 HR and 76 RBI on a team whose ERA was below 3. The Dodgers pitching staff should’ve been voted the ’88 NLMVP LOL.

  11. benihana

    Wow. You are one biased person, Fagan. To say that it isn’t even close shows how ridiculous this article is. To say a triple crown is “nothing special” shows how stupid you are as a writer. It hasnt happened in 45 years, so ya that seems pretty special.. I’m not saying it is clear-cut that Cabrera is better, but to say it is not close is utterly foolish.

  12. Ari Gold

    None of you on the Cabrera side answered his questions, would you say that Cabrera had one of the 20 greatest years ever? If the triple crown is such a great indicator of how great his year was then it would be prudent to answer that.

    Guy talking about the time zone of the games Trout played in…you’re trolling right? There is no way you are really serious.

    Trout played a balls to the walls style of CF and got tired at the end. Is that really a demerit considering how amazing he was in CF.

    Comerica park has played to offense as a whole. Regardless of the HRs it was 9th in total offense. Angels Stadium is frequently at the end of that list. The guy talking about how Cabrera played in tougher parks just…wow. Only one ball park in the AL West enhances offense. Historically as a division the parks play to pitchers. The inverse is true of the Central only the Twins have played in a pitchers park.

    For the record Cabrera is the first triple crown winner to not lead his league in fWAR. He either has the lowest or second lowest of all the guys to win it.

    • OldYanksFan

      In 2007, ARod had 54 Hrs, 156 RBI and a batting line of .314/.422/.645/1.067. He was a better fielder and better base runner also.

      My point is Cabrera had a great year, but not historically so. Trout’s year was however, historic.

      And don’t make me trot out some of Mickey Mantle’s years.

      The point is Miggy had a great year.
      But Trout’s year was a solid notch or 2 better.

    • Duh, Innings!

      I’m not “trolling”. I’ve been posting on here longer than you.

      When you play most of your games in California, on the West Coast, and in just two timezones adjacent to each other, you play in an environment more conducive for having a great season, especially when the weather is good to fantastic like it is in CA, AZ, and CO.

      I know Cabrera had to face the Rays and Yanks 9-10X each, whereas Trout didn’t. Cabrera’s division has two pitcher’s parks: Comerica Park and Target Field to the AL West’s one: Safeco Field. US Cellular Field and Kaufmann Stadium aren’t bandboxes. Cabrera played 80-81 games (80 if his one day off was a home game) in one of those two Central pitchers’ parks.

      I also know Cabrera played all but one game and still had a magnificent season not only with the BA/HR/RBI but with the 2BH/OBP/SLG/OPS. And he did it playing the more difficult part of the field: the infield.

      • edb

        I would argue that 5 games in Yankees stadium are more likely to help your offensive numbers than hurt them. Unless somehow you played 5 different series there and got CC each time.

      • Ari Gold

        The fact that you’re bringing the conditions of their team states and timezones is utterly ridiculous. It’s colder in the states Cabrera plays making it harder for pitcher’s to get looser and lowering their performance. I can be just as ridiculous.

        The AL West was the strongest division in baseball. Trout played the Yankees 6 times and Tampa 7 times. Comerica is a neutral ball park that has enhanced offense over the past three out of the past five years. In another year it was neutral but still more conducive to offense. US Cellular was second in offensive park factor. Kaufman was 12th and still played more towards hitters.

        The only hitters park in the AL West is Arlington. Trout plays his home games in a stadium that depresses offense. He played at Oakland Colliseum which is notorious for being a pitchers park. He played at Saefco which is again notorious for being a pitchers park.

        This leads us to the question you refuse to answer. Did Cabrera have one of the greatest seasons ever? Is it top 20 by way of winning the triple crown. Does winning the triple crown automatically throw his season into another stratosphere.

        If we took away 2 HRs from Cabrera and 5 away from Trout did he still have as good of year as Trout, is he still “magnificient”. Trout plays Center Field that’s one of the three toughest positions in the sport and he did it better than anyone in baseball. Cabrera was a butcher in the field so bringing that up is nonsensical. Trout still provided more value to his team by having a multifaceted game and he contributed more with his bat in a shorter amount of time than Cabrera.

  13. bpdelia

    trout had a better year.
    the triple crown is RIDICULOULY special.
    cabrera is a fantastic player.

    this kind of shouting dogmatic “you are stupid because you dont agree with my preference for who should win an award that is given based on an intentionally vague criteria” is honestly indicative of some of the worst most vile aspects of modern human society.

    kinda dissapointing because i very kuch like your work and very much loathe harold reynolds.

    i believe saberketrics give us a better understanding of the game.

    i also firmly believe that the MVP award isnt a statistical category. wecarent talking about who should be paid more or who you wajt on your team.

    we are talking about a subjective award given out that is part of the mythos and lore of the games history. gut feeling is a perfectly reasonable criteria to use for this

    an analogy here. the mvp is more akin to sexual desire than medical diagnoses. we dont run hip to chest ratio meta analyses when deciding who we want to sleep with.

    thats the nature of the award. its more art than science and its why fellow saber types have gone so bannanas over this. they have trouble with what cant be quantified. sometimes we have to go with our hearts.

    id be perfectly cool with either.

    and by the way big foot does in fact exist very possibly as a metaphysical entity. sometimes you just gotta believe that people arent all lying idiots. sometimes you go with your gut.

    • paul

      This. This. This. perfectly stated.

      • T.O. Chris

        It’s really far from perfectly stated even if you agree…

  14. paco

    I agree entirely. I was shocked when watching one of the other non Yankees games down the stretch (I think it was Texas Oakland) and all announcers picked Cabrera as MVP, and they talked about it like it was an obvious forgone conclusion…

  15. Pizzaman

    Sabermatricians want nothing more than to have Trout win the MVP. There’s an agenda working here.

    These are the same people who want to have robots umpiring the games. Take the human factor completely out of the game that way no one can be held responsible for these decisions.

    I agree that Sabermetrics gives us a new perspective on the game but it should not be used to absolutely determine anything.

    • Paco Dooley

      There is no agenda here – people want to see the obviously more valuable player win the award. A lot of baseball players have won awards when there was an obviously better candidate because old timers are stuck with some odd notion about value and performance.

      Plus, Sabermetrics is really just a system of measurement – i.e., how do we extract information from data. Baseball produces data and people try to understand how different variables appear to influence success. That seems like a wholly logical approach, rather than arbitrary statistics that were developed generations ago. For example, RBI as a performance measure is an anachronism.

  16. Sandy

    EJ, if I had an MVP vote, I would vote for Trout. But your arrogant tone in this column makes your argument less compelling and makes me less inclined to take you seriously as a writer. You don’t need to call everyone who disagrees with you stupid; just make your case and invite dissent. That’s how you’ll get people to read your stuff consistently and care about your opinion.

    • When I’m writing this, I’m speaking to the pro writers out there. Its their job to get this stuff right. If they don’t, they should be fired. Moneyball happened almost a decade ago. There’s no reason that we should still have to be talking as if we’re back in the stone age.

  17. Bobby

    Miguel leads the league in hugs… ’nuff said

  18. doncaruana

    When Trout has his amazing July, the Angels went 14-11. When he batted 257 in September, they went 18-9. Clearly his performance was *not* what was propelling them to victory. Just because you make up formulas doesn’t mean they have the value you intended. Cabrera’s worst month at the plate correlated with the Tigers’ worst month and the same for the best – as he goes, so go the Tigers. Cabrera is unequivocally the MVP.

  19. Brian

    I love both Cabrera and Trout and have my own opinion on who should win. What is shameful about this debate and with all due respect this column is the Sabermetrics using Cabrera to push their agenda.

    • T.O. Chris

      How is using numbers to prove fact an agenda? I find the people who only have gut or “the eyeball” as the reason for their vote to be the one pushing an agenda, the old school knows more than “fake stats” agenda.

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