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Tigers GM disparages WAR, thinks Cabrera’s MVP case should be judged by … WAR

Sep 28, 2012, 11:31 AM EDT

Miguel Cabrera AP

People who support Miguel Cabrera‘s MVP case tend to disparage WAR as a statistic. They say stuff like Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says here:

“You can use WAR stats and all of that, but when people used to talk about most valuable player, it used to be, ‘Take that player away from the club and see where that club would be.’ You take Miguel Cabrera out of our lineup right now, and you see where we would be.”

The definition of WAR, according to the folks who actually created and track it:

WAR basically looks at a player and asks the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?”

But hey, screw those silly statheads who are too afraid to leave their mother’s basements.

(h/t to Ben Badler for catching this delicious bit of incoherence)

122 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. chill1184 - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Dombrowski must’ve had a conversation with Ministry of Truth stooge Rob Parker recently.

  2. vallewho - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Either the Wonder-boy or the Dough-boy will win the MVP the AL MVP.

  3. deanmoriarity - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    I’m s “stats geek” and fan of WAR, but not only does Dombrowski not disparage WAR in that quote, what he said is entirely correct. Let’s at least be fair in our criticism.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      He disparages people using WAR to tout Trout’s MVP case and then articulates a near exact definition of WAR to tout Cabrera’s

      • benandwill - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        In an odd way, what Dombrowski says sort of makes sense, when you consider that the replacement for Cabrera wouldn’t be a generic, theoretical “replacement player,” but would, most likely, be Don Kelly, who is far worse.

        In 120 ABs, Kelly has a -0.7 WAR. So give him 600 ABs, he’s at -3.5 WAR. So Cabrera’s full-season Wins Above Kelly (WAK) basically equals Trout’s WAR, and an MVP is completely reasonable. QED.

        OK, that’s basically a joke. But what is not a joke is that Don Kelly sucks.

        Also – isn’t it odd that Dombrowski’s argument essentially amounts to a self-indictment of his construction of the rest of the Tigers’ roster?

      • sabatimus - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        Exactly. And Dombrowski’s seeming lack of awareness about this indicates he really doesn’t understand what WAR is.

      • detroitr1 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        And you’re disparaging people who argue in favor of Cabrera.

        Not related to the MVP debate, but If sabermetrics were the absolute authority in determining talent, how come no one (think Baseball Prospectus) gave much weight to idea of the St. Louis Cardinals winning the WS last year? In addition, their final W/L record was worse than most for playoff teams and they played in a “weaker” division (sound familiar?). And when they did make the WS, at the team level, sabermetrics favored the Texas Rangers last year.

        But, I digress. If managers/players favor Cabrera–guys who actually play the game–Craig will be there with his WAR calculator and snarky comments to prove them wrong. I’m just happy for Twins fans that Craig didn’t ridicule Ron Gardenhire (or Joe Mauer for that matter) like he did with Jim Leyland when Gardenhire also stated publicly that he thought that Cabrera was the AL MVP.

      • scatterbrian - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:03 PM

        @detroitr1

        Gardenhire has seen Cabrera play 15 times this year and Trout only 4 times. Totally fair assessment.

        For those of us without biased opinions, we don’t need calculators or sabermetrics to figure out that Trout has been the better player this season.

        And please don’t use the playoffs to denounce sabermetrics. If you really thought the Cardinals had the best shot at winning the World Series last year. The team with the best record usually doesn’t win the World Series, and most prognostications–whether it’s Vegas or Baseball Prospectus–goes with the odds.

  4. witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Here’s my problem with WAR. It doesn’t take into account how miggys presence in the heart of that lineup effects the rest of the batters for detroit. What i mean is, you take miggy out of the lineup, everybody pitches around prince fielder even more to get to delmon young and have him ground into a double play as is tradition. As a result, fielders numbers take a HUGE hit, so his WAR would decrease and they would lose wins based on that. The tigers would STRUGGLE to score any runs whatsoever because of this.

    Pitchers have to really factor in miguel cabrerar’s presence WAY more than they do with Trout. NOBODY is pitching around trout. No advanced sabermetrics factor in how cabrera’s monster season helps the rest of the batters in the tigers lineup. you think it’s a coincidence that fielder is having his best year in terms of batting average? please…look at what victor martinez did last year batting behind cabrera. hmmm best average of his career huh? funny coincidence. WAR does not factor this in. Trout does not have the same effect on the rest of the hitters behind him that cabrera does. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

    • paperlions - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      Here’s the thing….data exist and people have tested the effect of players on other players in the lineup. Conclusion: no effect. That is 100% narrative hokum. Pitchers figure Cabrera into how the approach the lineup WHILE CABRERA IS AT THE PLATE. Before and after that he is pretty irrelevant, as they are just trying to get the guy that is up out.

    • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Uh if pitchers pitched around Prince, he would walk more, which would increase his OBP, and thus increase his WAR.

      Also, by wOBA (which is a MUCH better batting stat than batting average), Fielder is having an average year (for him. A .393 wOBA would be amazing for any mere mortal, but it’s only Prince’s third highest total).

      As for the rest of your argument, it’s all based on ambiguous ideas rather than hard facts so I won’t even bother refuting it.

    • robertpack55 - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      You are cherry picking stats–like Prince having his highest batting average. Maybe it has something to do with the highest BABIP of his career too? Prince also has a career-low of 28 homers for a full season. Where is Cabrera’s help there? Why does Delmon have a slash line of .272/.303/.421 if Cabrera is so great? All are below his career norms.

      Don’t overrate lineup protection. It’s basically a myth. Just google “lineup protection myth” and you’ll see plenty of articles supporting this with FACTS.

      • juanhughjazz - Oct 4, 2012 at 10:06 AM

        here’s a fact for you. i saw barry bonds intentionally walked with the bases loaded(with the giants down by 2 in the 9th inning)

    • scatterbrian - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      “…everybody pitches around prince fielder even more to get to delmon young and have him ground into a double play as is tradition.”

      Miguel Cabrera has hit into more double plays than anyone else in baseball this year.

      “Pitchers have to really factor in miguel cabrerar’s presence WAY more than they do with Trout.”

      Pitcher’s really have to factor in Trout on the bases when guys like Pujols are at the plate.

      “NOBODY is pitching around trout.”

      Cabrera has 65 walks, Trout has 64.

      ” you think it’s a coincidence that fielder is having his best year in terms of batting average?”

      As a matter of fact, yes, I do.

    • obpedmypants - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      Not sure you understand how pitching around players works, but Miggy bats BEFORE Prince. So, Prince being good benefits Miggy in that he sees more pitches to hit, not the other way. Prince would get pitched around either way, which he does.

  5. blacksables - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Just doing a quick look at Baseball-Reference, I see the following:

    Tigers team WAR 13.8

    Angels team WAR 36.9

    Cabrera’s WAR 7.0

    Trouts WAR 10.6

    Cabrera’s contribution 51%

    Trouts’s contribution 29%

    Tigers 2 games up

    Angels 6 games back

    Simply put, Cabrera is more valuable to his team than Trout is, and Cabrera’s team is going to make the playoffs.

    It’s not the “Best Player” award, which is definitely Trout. It is the “Most Valuable Player” award, which puts Cabrera over Trout.

    See, I’ve managed to use and disparage WAR at the same time, while making a reasonable argument that no one will pay attention to.

    • jayscarpa - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      The Angels team WAR is 36.9? Wow.

    • pauleee - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      Angels 86 – 70
      Tigers 84 – 72

      Why does Cabrera get extra credit for playing in the weakest division in baseball?

      • blacksables - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        Why is the 5th best team in each league going to the playoffs?

        I would prefer one division and the winner goes to the series.

        But that’s not the way it works. You have multiple divisions, you have to live with it.

      • sportfreak1996 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        % of total team WAR isn’t a good metric to look at either. How do you factor in players with negative WAR figures? You can’t have negative % of a total, but in this case you can, which makes % of the whole a total meaningless number.

        And if you are saying missing Cabrera in the middle of that lineup (when they still have Prince) would be more hurtful to Detroit than the Angels losing the best leadoff hitter in baseball (when they have NO ONE that could even come close to replacing his production) — then you obviously haven’t watch a single Angels game this year (and I guarantee you I’ve watch more Detroit games than you have Angels, even if you have grabbed a late night game or two out West).

        I love Miguel Cabrera, but there’s a lot more to this game than just crushing homers.

      • pauleee - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        No problem. Then strike the “and Cabrera’s team is going to make the playoffs.” out of the equation. Can’t be in it, unbalanced schedule, apples and oranges, yada yada yada.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        and his team is going to the playoffs.

        the Tigers are going to the playoffs, even though they have a worse record than the Angels, because they play in a crappy division. Why should Cabrera get credit for that?

    • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      So because the Tigers are worse than the Angels, but play in a crappier division, Cabrera is MVP? Yeah, that makes sense.

      • blacksables - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:09 PM

        I never said Carera should be the MVP. I said he is more valuable to his team than Trout is to his.

        Everyone wants to make the arguement that Trout is a better player than Cabrera, and I don’t dispute that in any way.

        My counter argument is that Cabrera is more valuable to his team, and his team is going to the playoffs.

        Leave Trout on the Angels and they don’t make the playoffs.

        Take Trout off of the Angels and they don’t make the playoffs.

        Can you reasonably substitute Cabrera for Trout in those two sentences and make them true.

      • pauleee - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:26 PM

        The Tigers are likely going to make the playoffs. The Angels are likely not going to make the playoffs. However, it’s not set in stone yet. There’s one more week of baseball.

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        blacksables: Sure I can. Because Trout has been better than Cabrera, he has been more valuable. In a vacuum, you put Trout in DET and Cabrera in LAA, then DET will have more wins.
        But it doesn’t matter where DET and LAA end up because Cabrera and Trout don’t, and can’t, control that. All they can control is what THEY do on the field. And Trout has outperformed Cabrera on the field. Say the Tigers didn’t have Jackson, or Scherzer, or Verlander…would the Tigers have as good a record as they do now? Most likely not. Would that be Miguel Cabrera’s fault? Of course not!

    • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Uh according to this the Tigers team WAR is actually 36.1, and Justin Verlander actually has a larger share than Cabrera. Nice try though?

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/DET/2012.shtml

      • sportfreak1996 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM

        There’s multiple formulas that determine WAR and they vary slightly from site to site, so I don’t think he’s numbers were “wrong”, just probably from a different source than Baseball-Reference. Fangraphs is one of the other major WAR formulas, they are always a little off the BR numbers.

      • Dan McCloskey - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM

        It appears blacksables was looking only at batter when he cited those numbers.

        Tigers batters – 14.1 (different from his #, but close)
        Tigers pitchers – 22.0
        Tigers total – 36.1

        Angels batters – 36.9
        Angels pitchers – 2.7
        Angels total – 39.6

        Changes things a bit, I’d say.

    • bigcatbaseball - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      Trout is still adding more value to his team than Cabrera is.

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      ‘Tigers team WAR 13.8

      Angels team WAR 36.9″

      Hey, guess who is dead wrong?

      Angels WAR= 39.6

      Tigers WAR= 36.1

      You were only looking at offensive WAR and skipping pitchers.

      • blacksables - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        I didn’t realize they were competing for the Cy Young also, which would make your argument relevant.

        For the record, I don’t think either of them are the MVP. To me, four better choices would be:

        Josh Reddick
        Robinson Cano
        Paul Konerko
        Adam Jones,

        with Jones being my pick.

        I’m not interested in the guy who has the best statistic, regardless of the ones you use. I’m looking for the guy that took his team over the top and made them a better team because he’s on it.

        A superstar on a superstar team doesn’t impress me. Individual greatness when you team really isn’t that good doesn’t impress me.

        Raising your team to the next level does. That’s what an MVP is.

      • The Common Man - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        You’re so ridiculous it’s actually kind of adorable. At least you’re clear that you don’t give a damn about statistics unlike people who talk out of both sides of their mouth about Cabrera.

      • blacksables - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:12 PM

        Since you’re so damn smart, who is your MVP, and what do you base it on?

        I’ll bet it’s Trout based on nothing but sabremetrics, because you’re the broken record eveyrone wants to throw out.

        Linear equations provide for linear thinking. Stop letting other people make your decisions for you and actually take a stance that doesn’t solve for x.

        That’s not a knock against sabremetrics, it’s a knock against you.

  6. scatterbrian - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I’m not really sure the MVP should be decided strictly on WAR. If that’s the case, there would be a correct answer every year, and we’d all know the top ten without needing to have a vote.

    As it is, WAR encompasses a player’s entire game, but it still has it’s flaws. But even without using WAR, I think we’re all able to clearly see which player adds the most value to his team across the board–hitting, fielding, and base-running.

    • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      Most people who vote for Trout aren’t simply saying “most WAR = WIN.” If Trout and Cabrera were within less than a win of each other, I think most Trout voters would admit “well, defense is still nebulous to figure out and Cabrera has better offensive numbers so I’d be fine with Cabrera.” The thing is, WAR does the best (not a perfect, but the best we have) job of encapsulating EVERYTHING a player can do to bring value to his team: batting, defense and baserunning. Using this, Trout is, hands down, not even close, the best player in the league. WAR merely matches what we are seeing when Trout plays (see, SABR folks actually watch games too!)

      • 4cornersfan - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        WAR is an attempt to quantify something that is not amenable to quantification. It is the statistical equivalent to the Hot Stove League done by people who don’t watch games. For instance, in 1965, Zoilio Casanova Versalles won the NL MVP with a ..277 BA, 19 HR, 77 RBI and a 7.1 WAR. Those statistics would not get him in the top 10 candidates today, but the sportswriters who watched the games every day voted him in. The true value of a player can only be judged by watching him perform for his team day by day, not by poring over sheets of numbers. Don’t let me get started on Marty Marion in 1944 (.267, 6, 63, 4.6)

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        WAR is an attempt to quantify something that is not amenable to quantification.

        No, no it is not. People, you really should read up on this stuff before bashing it. It’ll take you awhile, but read this primer on fangraphs.com, and the links at the bottom of the article. Stop thinking it’s all subjective nonsense across the board:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/war/war-position-players/

      • Rhubarb_Runner - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:12 PM

        Zoilio Casanova Versalles won the NL MVP with a ..277 BA, 19 HR, 77 RBI and a 7.1 WAR.

        People who watch the game saw him win the AL MVP.

      • scatterbrian - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM

        @4cornersfan

        Are you referring to the same Zoilo Casanova Versalles who led all American League batters in WAR?

        Batting average, home runs and RBIs are not the three isolated indicators of value. Versalles led the AL with 126 runs, 45 doubles and 12 triples while playing Gold Glove defense at shortstop. And even when you look at HRs and RBIs, there were only two players who topped 30 homers and two who topped 100 RBIs.

  7. scatterbrian - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    To play off Dombrowski’s quote: When people used to talk about the best hitter, it used to be, “Who has the highest batting average?” When people used to talk about the best pitcher, it used to be, “Who has the most wins?”

  8. paperlions - Sep 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    This is a giant red herring. No one is suggesting it should be determined by WAR. Let’s ignore WAR.

    Both get on base at the same rate. Cabrera has more power, but plays in a better hitting environment (though not a big enough difference to account for his entire advantage in power). Trout blows Cabrera out of the water as a base runner. Their total offensive contributions are roughly equal.

    On defense, one is a HR-stealing stud CF…the other is a below average 3B.

    If you just look at their individual contributions, Trout blows Cabrera out of the water….unless you want to act like base running and defense don’t matter.

    • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      wat about stolen bases that dont results in runs?

      cabrera is a monster at driving in runs, better than anyone in the league. RBIs = RUNS ON THE SCOREBOARD. oh yea, cabrera is also 2nd in runs scored, not far behind trout. but i guess that doesnt matter either cuz hes not fast and sexy.

      i can see the defensive argument, but im of the belief that in baseball keeping runs off the board is more the job of the pitcher than the fielders (even poor fielders can make routine plays). not that fielding doesnt matter, just overrated a bit.

      look its obviously a close call which is why this debate rages on. both players are vital to their teams success. and taking either trout or cabrera off their respective teams would result in them not even sniffing the playoffs. its very close. but if im forming a “dream team” i want cabrera over trout cuz u just dont many monster RBI power hitters quite as good as cabrera to put in the 3-hole. average with runners in scoring position matters. a lot in my opinion. cuz it reflects runs being scored.

      • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        Yes, clearly these homer-saving catches were the result of the pitcher. Good job, pitcher!

        http://www.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=23827945&c_id=mlb&topic_id=vtp_blackberry
        http://www.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=23623763&c_id=mlb
        http://www.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=22644539&c_id=mlb&topic_id=vtp_must_c

      • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:36 PM

        no, my point is if trout had better pitching he wouldnt have to make those plays in the first place…

        here’s my point, if u have cabrera and good pitching i feel that’s a better formula success than the equivalent of trout and good pitching. (both would be good tho, but i like cabrera).

        on the other hand, ill give u that trout is the better option wen u have bad pitching. but if im building a team, im looking for a guy like cabrera over trout and then getting great pitching.

      • paperlions - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        What about singles, doubles, triples, and walks that don’t result in runs?

        Yes, sometimes stolen bases don’t result in runs….just like every other non-HR outcome in baseball.

      • blacksables - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        “Yes, sometimes stolen bases don’t result in runs….just like every other non-HR outcome in baseball”

        How do those guys cross the plate?

  9. nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    Why is everybody, even the Tigers’ own GM, ignoring how awesome most of the team, especially the pitching, has been?
    “Where would we be without Cabrera in our lineup?”
    Cabrera hasn’t “carried” shit…Verlander and the other starters, Austin Jackson, there have been big contributions from lots of Tigers.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      I would actually argue that Scherzer has made more of a difference this year than Verlander.

  10. historiophiliac - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    I feel like a broken record saying — again — that MVP is not a Best Player award and that you have to take both stats AND intangibles into account. You may not like that some qualities cannot be measured mathematically, but there it is. It does not mean that they should be discounted. An assessment of most valuable player should consider both. So, reducing it to WAR is to only consider part of a player’s qualifications.

    • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      The problem with nonmeasurables is that they cannot be backed up. You may say Cabrera “makes everyone in the lineup better by his presence,” and I may say “Trout distracts pitchers when he gets on base which makes people behind better”, and we could both be right, or both be wrong. There is nothing to prove or disprove either of our claims. What we’re stuck with, by using intangilbes, are people talking past one another with their own biases which cannot be disproven and no way of really concretely deciding which player is best.

      Also, what intangibles matter? How much do they matter? How can we quantitatively say that player X is better than player Y if we have no way of measuring it? The eye test fails because we all have our own preconceived biases which means 2 people watching the same thing can come to 2 separate conclusions. By quantifying things, we’re just trying to bring substance to a subjective area.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        Do people really not see the the irrationality of making an argument for objectiveness in a subjectively selected award? There really is no “right” or “wrong” on this kind of assessment. I’m sorry that a lack of objectivity freaks you out, but we are not establishing laws of baseball here. Many decisions in life — and much more important than a baseball MVP — rely on intangibles, and we really wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m not saying don’t look at stats at all (and I won’t go into any problems with WAR) — I’m saying you can’t discount things that can’t be measured completely. They do matter and everyone is going to feel differently about them and that’s legit.

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        20 years ago, defense and baserunning were “intangibles”. But now they can be measured, and you don’t get to replace them with “heart” and such.

      • natslady - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        I don’t agree that the “eye test” fails. Yes, we all have preconceived notions, and most of us are rooting for a particular team. But I could give you two players with almost identical “stats,” I’d bet that you’d want to see them in action to evaluate which one you’d trade for.

        Example:

        Player 1 3.5 fWAR .281/.322/.434
        Player 2 3.5 fWAR .280/.342/.426

        Watch ‘em play, and tell me which is more valuable to his team. Really? You watch them both play and you want Neil Walker over Brandon Phillips? Brandon Phillips is a sight to behold, Neil Walker is a fine player (when he’s not injured). That’s my eye test.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM

        Actually, voters can use “heart and such” in their considerations. In fact, the ballot instructions actually urge them to consider “general character, disposition, loyalty and effort.” To rely strictly on stats is to fail to follow the instructions.

        Seriously, does no one else enjoy the irony of using a non-standardized “objective” measure to attempt to discredit non-standardized subjective ones? Really?

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:26 PM

        The problem, as someone else stated, is that these “intangible” and “subjective” components are totally post-hoc arguments that are MADE UP for the purpose of defending a player you’ve already decided on. How do you know, after all, that Mike Trout isn’t better at all the “intangible” things you state than Cabrera? If you say “Cabrera is a better team leader”, and I say “Trout is a better team leader!”, then where does that leave us?

      • historiophiliac - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:32 PM

        It leaves us at a vote, dude, and the guy with the most votes wins. It’s a subjective assessment.

      • scchamil - Oct 3, 2012 at 6:12 PM

        “Watch ‘em play, and tell me which is more valuable to his team. Really? You watch them both play and you want Neil Walker over Brandon Phillips? Brandon Phillips is a sight to behold, Neil Walker is a fine player (when he’s not injured). That’s my eye test.”

        Very true. Phillips does things on defense (in pressure situations) that I’ve never seen another player do. People don’t realilze how much the Reds rely on him. They move him around the order on a whim (leadoff, bat second… hit third with votto out… clean up). They want him to set the table or drive in runs at various points in the season and it messes up his stat line every year. It usually takes him a couple games to readjust – but he does it without complaint. He’s an integral part of a winning club in ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet – and it’s an excellent point that people who view stats in a vacuum forget. The clubhouse, the team chemistry, the fan support have all been improved by his presence – but judging him on his stat line alone is a inaccurate picture. Value to a team can be judged multiple ways.

        I think if Cabrera locks up triple crown – he gets it (keeping in mind he maybe should’ve gotten it last year). He’s been the best power hitter in baseball for a couple of years and has nothing on his mantle to show for it – whether that’s fair or not, it would factor into my voting. It won’t be a stain on the history of baseball – as a voter I’ll know when it’s all said and done that no one will think Miggy winning MVP that one year was a flash in the pan fluke. Meanwhile, Trout is runaway ROY and if his team made playoffs, I probably would’ve given it to him. Does he get punished for playing in a better league? Maybe. That team had a goal, they didn’t reach it – he did everything in his power, but can’t give him extra credit. I would give him extra points in the future if he ends up in another close MVP race later in his career (or even next year). I think he’ll win a few. Sorry – when it’s this close, that’s how I would vote.

    • elibolender - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      But intangibles are just used as post hoc explanations to support people’s preconceived notions. Just because everyone says the Tigers wouldn’t be anywhere without Cabrera, doesn’t make it so. This was a team that was predicted by well over 90% of baseball writers/analysts to cruise into the playoffs in an easy division. They have underperformed massively and are going to get slip in the playoffs with quite possibly the worst record of ALL 10 teams in the playoffs. If Cabrera has such great intangibles, why is his team under-performing so badly?

      The Angels sat at 6-14 when they called Trout up. They have played 82-54 ball since that day (.603 winning percentage which is higher than any team in baseball’s full season percentage sans Washington). Sure sounds like Trout is pretty darn valuable to me.

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        Indeed! We have no idea what the Tigers would do without Cabrera.

      • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        But we can roughly assume that they would be 7-8 wins worse than where they are now, thanks to WAR.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        But that is an assumption not based in actual experience.

      • natslady - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        Wait–I thought when the season started the Angels were a lock to make it to the playoffs. Don’t they have Pujols and CJ Wilson, etc.? Wasn’t this the year they were going to knock off the Rangers? If any team has underperformed (Trout or no Trout)…!

        The question is, are you using statistics as evaluation or prediction? Because your post is mixing that up. Both the Angels and the Tigers have “underperformed” if you use last year’s statistics to predict this year’s performance.

      • elibolender - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        NatsLady – You are incorrect. In ESPN’s preseason predictions, all 49 voters picked the Tigers to win the Central. Half had the Angels winning the west and the other half had them fighting for a wild card. On BP, 26 out of 27 writers took Detroit, while only 6 of 27 took the Angels to win their respective divisions. Vegas had Detroit’s over/under at 94 wins, tops in their division BY FAR, they sit at 84 wins with 6 games to go. The Angels were predicted second in the west with 89.5. They have 86 today with 6 to go meaning they will be right at their pre-season projection.

      • natslady - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

        I’ll take your word on that. All I pretty much remember is the big signings and predictions how the Angels were going to tear up the place with Pujols. I do remember everyone predicting the Tigers would run away with the AL Central but I never bought into it.

    • natslady - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      It’s hard to measure intangibles. So, you have to actually watch the games–and I haven’t watched enough Tigers or Angels games to do that.

      Let’s take Adam LaRoche. Everyone can look at his offense and see that he’s having a great year, and that he (along with the pitchers) carried the team on his back in the spring when we had a lot of injuries and slumps.

      But how do you evaluate his defensive contribution? Not only does he save every other infielder (especially Ryan Zimmerman) from errors, he gives the pitchers confidence that they can “pitch to contact” and not need to go after so many strikeouts–thus lowering their pitch counts. So there’s an “intangible” ripple effect.

      • paperlions - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        It isn’t hard to measure intangibles. It is impossible, by definition, to measure them. If you could measure them, they would be tangible.

        Relying on intangibles in an argument is to admit that you don’t have a reason so you are going to rely on something that can be neither proven nor disproven. In general, it is related to confirmation bias or natural inherent bias. Everyone that brings up intangibles use them to defend their choice of an inferior player that happens to be their rooting interest…..and not finding evidence that they are right….they make up reasons that can not be quantified or verified.

      • natslady - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        paper, go and look at the HBT post on pre-season predictions. SOMETHING happened that the statistics didn’t predict. Now, maybe the stats can explain it, but they certainly didn’t predict it.

      • paperlions - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:31 PM

        Yes, and those things were all tangible. Injuries, players playing better or worse than expected, slumps, bad luck, good luck….lots of things, and all of those things that matter (even amount of “luck”, which really means variation about the mean) are tangible.

        A group of guys saying “I think this might happen” and then that exact thing not happening within the highly stochastic format of baseball, is not particularly interesting, novel, or unexplainable…and it certainly has nothing to do with intangibles…mostly, it is about unreasonable expectations.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:28 PM

        Just because something isn’t measurable doesn’t mean it’s bogus. I like beer. I can’t quantify my liking for beer for you, but that does not mean that my affection for beer is is BS. Further, I think Stella is better than Bud Light. I cannot give you an objective reason why I prefer the one, I can only offer you my subjective assessment of it…which is still not BS….especially when you are talking about making a SUBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT.

        And, AGAIN, it doesn’t matter if you back the “inferior” player as far as objective measures go, because it is NOT an award for player with the best stats. If one of those statistics sites wants to establish a Willie Mays Best Player of the Year Award and give it out, they can do that and that’s fine. Then, y’all can fight over which is the best way to calculate WAR.

  11. jayscarpa - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Back in the day it wouldn’t even be a contest and Cabrera would win easily. The beauty of advanced metrics is that it can look at two completely different types of players and be able to compare them. Value to the team, though, goes way beyond a number.

  12. lembeck4 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Keep trolling Tigers fans with that classic passive aggressive style….never gets old.

  13. witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    wat i dont get about u WAR-heads (not the candy), is how people say that RBIs are a faulty statistic as they depend on people being on base to drive home. so therefore its more of a result of a team than an individual. Brian Kenny at MLB said this in favor of trout. yet scoring a run somehow doesn’t depend on having someone else to get you home? What if for all trout’s getting on base he didn’t have good hitters behind him to bring him in? and as a result he scored much less runs? No? getting on base and being fast, regardless, always results in runs huh?

    Cabrera’s batting average with runners in scoring position (vs. trouts), and ridiculous amount of RBIs should not be discounted just because he needs people on base to do these things. because Trout also needs people to knock him home when he gets on base. i’d actually say its harder to knock in a run than it is to stand on base and have someone else knock you in. call me crazy or old school, even tho i am firm believer in sabermetrics. sabermetrics tell a lot but they really dont tell everything. some of that old school baseball logic really does matter i dont care what you say. if you combine the two things i think that’s where you find the best answer.

    and talk to any pitcher hu has actually played baseball, miggy in the middle of the lineup totally changes how you pitch to the rest of the team way more than Trout does batting leadoff. 3-hole hitters are more important to an offense than leadoff men, i dont care what sabermetrics you want to apply to that (again i really like sabermetrics they tell us a lot, just not EVERYTHING).

    • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:05 PM

      I don’t think anyone who is making a case for Trout is saying that his runs are the main tipping point in is favor. Runs are as flawed, if not more so, as RBIs. Ideally, runs, RBIs and batting average would all be thrown out since they either a) reward an individual for team effort or b) have been subsumed by better measures (OBP, SLG).

      • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        if u wanna say defense is what sets them apart i can get that. i just don’t get how people say their offensive contributions are equal. cabrera produces more runs. he drives in way more, and scores nearly as many himself. even wen u discount the home runs that count as both an RBI and a run scored for both players…cabrera produces 20 some runs more than trout in this regard. that’s more offense than trout contributes. plain an simple.

        and my counter to the defensive argument is, pitching is more important than fielding for keeping runs off the board….

        i like that trout can do it all, and its a very close call between the two. but u can find speed and defense a lot of places. finding the best RBI guy in the league is well, extremely difficult.

        hu would u want at the plate with the game on the line?

      • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        Finding the best RBI guy in the league requires finding 3 dudes who get on base ahead of him, which I agree is extremely difficult.

        If you look at wOBA, which adjusts for things like ballpark, position, etc. Trout and Cabrera are having extremely similar years (Trout’s ad .415, Cabrera at .414). You can have value offensively through more things than just dingers and ribbies.

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:28 PM

        The reason RBI is not a reliable source to for how good a player is, is that Cabrera could do exactly the same things and have all the same stats, only with NOBODY on base when he does them. He ends up with 0 RBI, but is otherwise the exact same player. Is he less valuable? No! But if you insist he is…is it his fault? He’s the same player, after all.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      wat i dont get about u WAR-heads (not the candy), is how people say that RBIs are a faulty statistic as they depend on people being on base to drive home

      Here’s the deal, if you want to be taken seriously, don’t set up straw man. None of us say this. We say RBIs are not a good measurement of value because they rely far too much on factors outside the hitters control. A big one is how good the players are in front of the hitter in getting on base. Ryan Howard is a great example. Even though his BA/OBP/SLG continued to drop the last 3-4 years, he continued putting up monster RBI totals because the guys in front of him continued to get on base (Werth, Rollins and Utley). If no one is on base, a la Bonds, you can hit as many HR as you want and still not rack up big RBI totals (for instance, Bonds hit 73 HR in ’01, and only had 137 RBI. In ’03 he hit 45 HR and only had 90 RBI.)

      3-hole hitters are more important to an offense than leadoff men, i dont care what sabermetrics you want to apply to that (again i really like sabermetrics they tell us a lot, just not EVERYTHING).

      Starting with the second sentence, I doubt it. For one, every study, as mentioned above, shows that pitchers don’t approach hitters differently depending on where they hit, never mind that lineup protection can’t be proven to be true. Two, batting your best hitter 3rd is almost always a bad idea, because more often than not you come to the plate with 2 outs and no one on. And while line up construction over an entire year won’t do much, win or loss, the further down you place your best hitters, the less ABs the end up with for the year.

      • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        to the person hu said cabrera would get 0 RBIs without ppl getting on base in front of him, thats not correct. he’d still get 42 RBIs from his 42 dingers!

        and trout needs people to bring him home as much as cabrera needs people on base to drive home…if not more cuz cabrera has the ding dong home run factor…

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:48 PM

        and trout needs people to bring him home as much as cabrera needs people on base to drive home…if not more cuz cabrera has the ding dong home run factor…

        Can you point out where people are saying Runs is a legitimate stat to use but RBI is not? They are the opposite sides of the same coin, highly dependent on your teammate. If a person is doing just that, ignore them.

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        Touche, witeman. Ok, so if Cabrera only had 42 RBIs, you wouldn’t say boo? Ok.

    • madhatternalice - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:25 PM

      RBIs are a faulty statistic (in this case) because they imply that some players are more “clutch” than others. That is, if you believe RBIs to be an indicator of performance (I mean, not even BA with RISP, but plain old RBIs), then you believe in “clutch” hitting, a myth that has been repeatedly shot down.

      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2656

      I’m going to ignore the rest of your post, mostly because of it’s straw arguments and specious logic. But I’ll leave you with this: if you want to make a point, don’t say “3-hole hitters are more important to an offense than leadoff men.” What does that even mean? Leadoff men, on average will have more at bats in a game that the three-hole batter. The three-hole batter is going to have a hard time knocking someone home if the leadoff batter doesn’t get on base.

  14. deeznutz3d - Sep 28, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Man Craig you’re really butthurt, did Cabrera bang your girl or something?

  15. tincup67 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    First, let me say that I’m a Tigers fan, so I’m more than a little bit biased. Second, I think the guy that pointed out that it would most likely be DON KELLY replacing Miggy at 3rd base got it right.

    I will admit that I am not a stathead and do not have a full understanding of WAR and everything that goes into it, but I cannot understand for the life of me how any formula that concludes that Trout’s WAR is higher than Cabrera’s is foolish. Don’t we have to use some common sense here? Would it really cost the Angels more wins to have Peter Bourjos (or Vernon Wells) replace Trout than it would cost the Tigers to have Kelly replace Cabrera? Granted, Bourjos has nowhere near the average and power that Trout has, but his defense and base stealing would be at high levels (and those are the two key areas that people cite where Trout is SO much better than Miggy). Don Kelly would bat below .200 with almost no HRs and very few RBI. He is not a base stealing threat (despite his key steal late the other day) and only offers a decent upgrade defensively.

    Trout is a stud. There is no arguing that. I won’t complain or argue if he is the MVP. But there are a lot of people commenting here who are ripping on Miggy and the Tigers.

    The bottom line is that I don’t see how you can rely ONLY on a statistic (WAR) that relies so much on a “mythical” bench or minor league player’s performance to determine the starter’s value to the team (and, despite what another poster said, there are TONS of people who point out that Trout’s WAR clearly gives him the MVP-I would say 75-80% of “experts” I’ve heard on TV and the radio have said it). Then again, like I said, I haven’t spent a ton of time looking at everything that makes WAR relevant. I simply see Peter Bourjos (or Wells) continuing to help LA be successful, while Don Kelly (added to Peralta, Dierks, Avila, Boesch, Santiago & Infante) would complete a pretty toothless Tigers lineup.

    • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:08 PM

      So we should punish Trout because his GM built a deeper team than Cabrera’s? That’s terrible logic. By that logic we should give the MVP to Adrian Beltre, who is a whopping 8.7 WAR higher than his replacement, Michael Young.

      What WAR does is make a baseline to make comparisons across rosters, assuming that a competent GM can find an average dude to replace him. If the GM can’t that doesn’t make the player more valuable, just the GM that much more incompetent

      • tincup67 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        First, I never said to punish Trout for anything. I even stated that I wouldn’t argue if he won the MVP award. He is a phenomenal player.

        Second, I’m nowhere near a fan of Dave Dombrowski. I think his roster decisions have been horrible over the years (Inge must have had pics of him and Leyland in compromising positions; Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago, Phil Coke). But my understanding of WAR is that it is “Wins Above Replacement”, not “Wins Above the Replacement that the GM SHOULD have had in place”. To use your argument, Cabrera should get punished because Dombrowski has only Don Kelly as a backup third baseman? Wait, he could use Santiago there, since he is occasionally a late-inning defensive replacement when Cabrera isn’t in the lineup.

        Third, you didn’t address my main point, which was that the dropoff from Trout to either Bourjos or Wells would be FAR less than the dropoff from Cabrera to Kelly (who was put on waivers, went unclaimed, and is now essentially the backup 3B!!). I don’t care what WAR numbers tell you, common sense tells you that the talent and performance level between Bourjos/Wells would be much, much closer to Trout’s than Kelly’s would be to Cabrera’s.

        I’m not bashing the whole WAR concept. I’m simply stating that I have a hard time believing the conclusion that his WAR should be higher than Miggy’s based on the surefire replacements that each team has.

      • tincup67 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        And, if I’m not mistaken, Michael Young is already in the starting lineup for Texas as their DH. If he moved to 3B to replace Beltre, the Rangers would have to put someone else into the DH spot. I don’t know their roster well enough to know who the new DH would be.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:32 PM

        I simply see Peter Bourjos (or Wells) continuing to help LA be successful, while Don Kelly (added to Peralta, Dierks, Avila, Boesch, Santiago & Infante) would complete a pretty toothless Tigers lineup.

        Because replacement level isn’t based on who you have on the team, but a generic AAAA player. When Arod moved to the Yanks, Jeter wasn’t docked because they had a former MVP SS on the team to replace him if he got injured, they’d replace him with a Ramiro Pena esc player from AAA (for WAR calcs). So whether Miggy has Don Kelly or Mike Schmidt on his team has no bearing.

    • tincup67 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      “Because replacement level isn’t based on who you have on the team, but a generic AAAA player. When Arod moved to the Yanks, Jeter wasn’t docked because they had a former MVP SS on the team to replace him if he got injured, they’d replace him with a Ramiro Pena esc player from AAA (for WAR calcs). So whether Miggy has Don Kelly or Mike Schmidt on his team has no bearing.”

      Church, if what you posted is true, then WAR is officially the most meaningless statistic ever invented. So let me get this straight…Wins Above Replacement doesn’t actually mean Wins Above ACTUAL, in-game Replacement, but Wins Above a Mythical AAAA Player Who Doesn’t Actually Exist Replacement? Isn’t the value of Trout and Cabrera (for WAR purposes) supposed to be based on who would ACTUALLY be put into the lineup in their places????

      How can you calculate how many more wins a player means to his team when you haven’t defined yet who his replacement is? That’s like planning a vacation and telling your wife it’s going to cost you $3,000, then when she asks where you are going for that vacation, telling her that you aren’t sure yet. Don’t you need to know if you’re driving to a cabin on a lake or flying to Paris?

      • ptfu - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:37 PM

        http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/misc/war/replacement-level/

        WAR is an attempt to answer the question: Which of these players is better? NOT, which of those players’ teams would be worse off if the players weren’t there?

        Anyway, how the heck does anyone know who would replace a player? If Miggy fell off the face of the earth forever, would the Tigers happily stick Don Whatsisname at 3B and smile as he sucked horribly all year long for a loaded team in playoff contention? Not for more than a few games, they wouldn’t. They’d probably reshuffle their current players, promote someone, or trade for a 3B who wasn’t so awful. Or maybe they wouldn’t be in contention at all, and decide to blow up the team, or…

        The point is, THERE’S NO WAY TO KNOW what the Tigers would do. We’re just flailing in the dark at a hypothetical situation. So that’s where WAR comes in. It levels the playing field and establish an equal baseline that’s a lot more realistic than pretending we know exactly what the Tigers would do if Miggy disappeared.

        Oh, and that theoretical AAAA player who doesn’t exist? Actually, he does, and he’s essentially freely available to any team at any time. He doesn’t have a name because there are so many others like him stashed everywhere. He’s the player to be named later. It’s like asking, why doesn’t a random grain of sand on a beach have a name? You pick out the grain and then you can specifically name it. But that grain existed before you picked it out of the mass–and so does the AAAA replacement player to be named later that you (might) pick up when your star third baseman falls off the face of the earth (yes, I love that phrase).

    • madhatternalice - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:29 PM

      I’m sorry, I’m sure you make good points. But when you start with “I will admit that I am not a stathead and do not have a full understanding of WAR and everything that goes into it, but I cannot understand for the life of me how any formula that concludes that Trout’s WAR is higher than Cabrera’s is foolish,” I stopped reading.

      “I know you all are debating a certain metric, and while I don’t understand the metric, I can’t understand why you guys would not come to the conclusion I did!”

      But then…you end with “The bottom line is that I don’t see how you can rely ONLY on a statistic (WAR)…”

      Who is making this argument? No one is, as far as I can see. Read the comments, read the article. Craig is knocking him for not understanding WAR, but neither Craig, the commentariat or Dombrowski are arguing that WAR should be the sole entity that determines the MVP.

      I mean, honestly…

  16. itsonlyaspeedbump - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    @manifunk I agree with you on all your arguments about using SABR measurements instead of intangibles, or the “eye test.” The problem with doing that is that most people find that emotionally unsatisfying.
    How annoying would it be for a Cabrera fan to sit next to a stathead during a Tigers game? He hits a double and drives in 2 RBIs and the stathead leans over and says ‘Trout would have got a triple out of that.’ The next inning Cabrera barely misses a sharply hit ground ball down the 3rd base line. The stathead leans over and says ‘not the same defender as Trout either.’
    This sports argument was fun in the past when it was an exchange of unprovable opinions. Now the Tigers fan is just WRONG and the stathead is simply CORRECT (and probably a little smug).
    The tide is slowly turning. Eventually most fans will watch the game informed instead of just emotional. Until then, can you blame a guy for prefering the triple crown to the hotshot WAR leader?

    • manifunk - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      Uh as a stathead I don’t think I would be sitting there criticizing Miggy for a double, but nice strawman argument I guess. I would use the Miggy defensive miscue to point out that defense matters too.

      The Tigers fan is “wrong” when they say that a triple crown in three categories should equate to an automatic MVP, just as the Trout fan is wrong when they say that WAR and WAR alone should decide the MVP. There is nuance, and again if these two were within a win of each other according to WAR I don’t think there would be a right or wrong. But WAR, even though it’s not absolute, shows us that maybe we should look beyond the triple crown numbers to evaluate these two, and when we do we see that Trout really is the superior overall player.

      Cabrera’s an excellent hitter. The problem is the MVP isn’t a hitting award, it’s an all-around award. Cabrera should get the Silver Slugger, which *is* a hitting award.

      • itsonlyaspeedbump - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        Clearly I expressed myself badly. I was using the baseball game as a metaphor for what this discussion is like for a traditionalist, not that you would actually do that to someone.
        ((
        Empirical data suggests that Trout should be the MVP, I have to agree.

        My larger point was that using only stats to measure a player is very good for a GM or manager, but for many fans who just want to react emotionally, enjoy the moment, the meticulous measuring of a player is deflating.

  17. witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    here’s some math for u stat heads…how many runs each player contributes to offensively…

    Cabrera: (107 runs scored + 133 RBIs) – the 42 HRs that count for both = 198 runs

    Trout: (124 runs scored + 78 RBIs) – 28 HRs = 174 runs

    198 > 174. advantage miggy.

    so don’t tell me their offensive contributions are equal, and therefore trout is MVP as his defense is the “tie breaker”. If you are gonna argue for trout, say its because his defensive contributions are so important that they exceed cabrera’s advantage on offense…

    • jayscarpa - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      I miss Old School math.

    • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      So you are saying if Cabrera had the exact same stats only no one was ever on base in front of him, you wouldn’t think he was good or valuable because he never got any RBI? Why would that be Cabrera’s fault?

      • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        no, but u can flip that and say…wat if people hu hit after trout never got him home to score a run? everything is connected. at the end of the day, cabrera has had his direct hand on more runs than trout. regardless of how much help each has had from their teammates…which if anything cabrera should have the advantage cuz he hits more home runs, which scores a run no matter wat the teammates do…

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        If no one “drove in” Trout after he got on base, Trout would still be just as valuable. Who are these people you claim say Cabrera’s RBIs are worthless but Trout’s Runs aren’t? Those people don’t exist.

      • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:56 PM

        i thought thats wat u were suggesting. so wat exactly was ur point in asking wat if cabrera put up same numbers with no one on base? im really confused now. all i was trying to say is that cabrera has had his direct hand on more runs than trout for the season….cuz it seems some people think trout has contributed an equal amount on offense…

      • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM

        I’m saying that RBI tells you nothing about how valuable Cabrera is. I’m also saying that runs scored tells you nothing about how valuable Trout is. Therefore, you should stop using them to argue MVP. Because again, if Cabrera did everything exactly the same, only with no one on base, the lack of RBI is hardly his fault.

      • obpedmypants - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:33 PM

        witeman10:

        Are all the 10-year-olds spelling ‘who’ that way these days?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      You’re going to use counting stats when one guy didn’t even play in April? The math calc is hilarious though, way to completely miss all aspects of offense, such as base running.

      • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        baserunning is in fact included in this calculation in the form of how many runs trout has scored. wat good is fast baserunning that doesnt result in a run? so if someone steals a base with two outs, and the next batter strikes out, that’s valuable?

        it doesnt matter how u score. just cuz mike trout scores a run faster than cabrera does means nothing. a run scored from a guy sprinting around the bases is just as valuable as cabrera hitting a home run and scoring one slowly as he mike trouts his way around the bases. a run is a run.

        and really? trout not playin in april is an argument in favor of Trout? the fact that cabrera has played more games than trout works in trouts favor? how many wins over replacement does one get credit for wen he doesnt play?

      • madhatternalice - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:31 PM

        It’s the very definition of cherry-picking.

  18. jayscarpa - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Anyone know what year WAR was ‘invented’?

    • nategearhart - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      What’s your point? What year was batting average “invented”?

      • jayscarpa - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:30 PM

        I wanted to study the correlation of advanced statistics to awards. If that’s OK with you.

      • jayscarpa - Sep 28, 2012 at 5:58 PM

        For example: lets put the sabermetric age beginning the mid nineties. I think that’s when VORP and other advanced stats started showing up.

        From 1995 – 2011 only two players who led the NL in RBI won the MVP award – Ryan Howard in 2006 and Sosa in 1998

        From 1978 – 1994 nine players who led the NL in RBI won the MVP award.

        I’m just starting but it’s a good start for the hypothesis that advanced stats have influenced baseball writers and subsequently the public.

        P.S. The only AL player to lead the league in SB and win the MVP was Ichiro in 2001. Just a random fact.

  19. jerryball22 - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    The goal of the offense is to score runs, and an individual’s wOBA has a stronger correlation to team runs scored (based off research from 1871-2010) than any old-school counting stat. It’s one of, if not the, best measures on an indivual player’s offensive contribution to the team. Trout currently has a .415 wOBA while Cabrera has a .414. For all you non-statheads out there, .415 is greater than .414. Using a measure of offense with a stronger correlation to team runs than HR, RBI, or RS shows Trout to be the superior offensive player while also contributing far greater value on defense and on the bases. How anyone can still feel Cabrera has had a better year really humors me.

    (http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/offense/woba/) (http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-wOBA?urn=mlb,208135)

    • witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      even sabermetrics say cabrera has created more runs than trout on the season, not as a percentage but as a total. the fact that cabrera has played all year should favor cabrera’s MVP bid. if trout comes back next year, plays a full season…maybe he’ll be MVP. but cabrera has contributed more in total for the 2012 season on offense. so he should be 2012 MVP. games in april counted to. trout didnt provide any wins over replacement for the angels that month…

      • jerryball22 - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM

        “even sabermetrics say cabrera has created more runs than trout on the season, not as a percentage but as a total.” Please show me where you found this – I linked to two articles as backup, which is two more than you provided. As an aside, Fangraphs lists Trout as having 169 wRC+ while Cabrera only has 164, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

        “but cabrera has contributed more in total for the 2012 season on offense. so he should be 2012 MVP.” I directly contradicted this with facts, but hey don’t let those get in your way.

        “games in april counted to. trout didnt provide any wins over replacement for the angels that month” Yes, but he’s provided 10.2 since then compared to only 6.7 for Cabrera for the entire year. 10.2 > 6.7

  20. witeman10 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    wat if trout and cabrera were on the same team? the perfect combo of thunder and lightning! imagine how many runs trout would score and how many RBIs cabrera would get….

    • paperlions - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      ….and Trout would still be the far superior player.

  21. takingbovadasmoney - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Craig, Which WAR stat are you speaking of? Everyone that publishes one uses different calculation methods, and some even use different sabermetrics to measure WAR. Even SI called it an “inconsistent” stat when asked why they used it to promote Trout.

    • paperlions - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      Everyone….you mean, both places? Yeah, everyone.

  22. smftrdr - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Angels have Bourjos for center, Tigers have who for third? QED

  23. pmcenroe - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    A lot of the people hating on WAR remind me of this

  24. mazblast - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Those who support Trout will cite some numbers. Those who support Cabrera will cite some numbers. Those who support Trout will use numbers that are more complex, even undefinable, to support their pre-concluded position. Those who support Cabrera will use numbers that are more basic, if no longer as relevant as they used to be, to support their pre-concluded position. Those who support Trout will cite one set of “intangibles”. Those who support Cabrera will cite another set of “intangibles”.

    Look, regardless of which one wins, as long as one of them wins, a great player will have won it. Regardless of which one wins, supporters of the other will bitch.

    So why are we having this argument?

    • obpedmypants - Sep 28, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      From MLB’s perspective, it doesn’t matter who is MVP, just so long as they bait people into talking about it too much.

    • simalex - Sep 29, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      This kind of “why bother” attitude really bothers me. We’re having this discussion because 1) it’s what sports fans like to do, and 2) it’s interesting to make a case for one side and argue it well.

  25. drewsylvania - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Based on the quote….

    “You can use WAR stats and all of that, but when people used to talk about most valuable player, it used to be, ‘Take that player away from the club and see where that club would be.’ You take Miguel Cabrera out of our lineup right now, and you see where we would be.”

    …he’s not disparaging WAR.

    Hate to say it, but you’re really trolling a lot more lately.

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