Saturday, November 17, 2012


Thursday night was the culmination to about two months of arguing and vitriol about who the true American League MVP is. Who should forever be known as the Most Valuable Player in 2012? Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera, the "sabermetric darling" or the Triple Crown winner. It all seemed so easy, and it is.

The answer, is Mike Trout
Anyone who has followed this blog knows of my overzealous affection for Mike Trout, and I admit, I originally crafted my argument by finding ways to justify him and discredit the amazing season that Miguel Cabrera put together. 

When I finally took an objective step back, I found that Trout still deserves the award, and it's a joke that one of the greatest seasons of our generation may fade into oblivion because three simple letters aren't attached to it.

The Triple Crown is not as big of a deal as it is being made out to be. It's an accomplishment, don't get me wrong, but that should not be the sole factor in determining one's performance. It uses an antiquated statistic in RBI, and two rather incomplete stats in HR and batting average. RBI is what I and many others consider to be a luck and opportunity stat. If Miguel Cabrera played on my Mets with Lucas Duda toiling in front of him, I would love to see how many RBI he would have. Power and contact are both very important, but home runs and batting average don't give the full story. To use a Mets example, Daniel Murphy never hits home runs, but he has great doubles power. Batting average is nice, but the main goal is to get on base, and if a player is like Jordany Valdespin and take about two walks per month, they're not on base nearly enough to be considered the elite offensive player that their batting average may suggest.

I'm not saying that any of this is the case with Cabrera, but when looking at a "Triple Crown," you have to look farther than the aesthetic stats that suggest greatness. It does a terrible job at evaluating talent and performance.  

Did you know that Mike Trout is the first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases, and score 125 runs? 

Oh yeah and he played his first game on April 28. 

Trust me, I don't put that much stock into stats like home runs and runs (like I just stated above) , but I just wanted to give a snapshot of the impressive offensive display by Mike Trout this season.

Don't get me wrong, Miguel Cabrera had a great offensive season and was unquestionably better than Trout at the dish.

Now here's where Mike Trout blows Cabrera away: everything else.

Baseball is a multi-faceted game and swinging the bat should not be the only determining factor in who wins the Most Valuable Player award. Player includes the basepaths and in the field.

Mike Trout without a doubt was one of the best five defensive players in the MLB this year, and I personally thought that he was the best. He failed to win a Gold Glove (another complete farce), but he was still consistently saving runs with his speed and athleticism. That speed of his allowed him to steal 49 bases and to take extra bases on hits.

Miguel Cabrera is a complete liability on defense and costs his teams runs with his lack of range and athletic disadvantages. One argument that I heard in support of Cabrera is that he "selflessly" changed positions for the good of the team. I cannot believe that people are using something like that to determine who wins this very important award. Even if one wants to use that foolish premise, Cabrera was terrible at third. Being so slow of foot, he's horrific on the basepaths as well.

The reason why baserunning and defense usually is not factored into MVP voting is because there usually is not such a canyon between contenders.

The worst part of this whole thing was the whole business about the playoffs. Baseball is a team sport. No matter what one player does, the other eight guys on the field need to play well for a team to win and play well. Mike Trout nor Miguel Cabrera can carry a team into the playoffs. When talking about who was a better player, it should not be affected by who has a better team around them, or what division they are in. Oh and even if you want to use that argument (and please don't), the Angels finished with a better record than the Tigers, and had a better record in September/October. The only reason why the Tigers made the playoffs was because the White Sox folded and handed them the division. Mike Trout got penalized just because he played in a tougher division.

The last point I want to make, is this whole sabermetric argument regarding Mike Trout. These stubborn old baseball "traditionalists" need to realize that the game is changing, and the way we can look at the game has changed too. Some people hate change, so these people sit around all day complaining that baseball research and information and research is actually evolving. This is the same argument when talking about instant replay; if the technology is available, use it. On the other hand, sabermetrics aren't everything and I get that, but calling Trout a sabermetrician's dream doesn't give the full story. Notice that I made an argument for Trout without even mentioned WAR. What WAR tries to do is associate a value with how good a player was, but the same can be done with qualitative research.

The point about sabermetrics is that there is no disputing the number. It is fact, which is why some people like math, there is not arguing about the answer. No such thing as subjectivity.

I'm embarrassed for baseball not because a great player won the MVP, I'm embarrassed because the criterion used to decide this MVP was full of subjectivity and narrative, neither of which have a place in the deciding of such an important award.

Cabrera was the better offensive player, but Trout was better all around, and in deciding the Most Valuable Player, the voters used tunnel vision and showed an utter disregard for the other facets of baseball.

Now I would love for anyone to give a reasonable argument for Cabrera.

I dare you. 

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