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Cabrera vs. Trout brings to mind 2001 AL MVP battle

Sep 30, 2012, 11:30 PM EDT

Miguel Cabrera AP

Except this time, the shoe is on the other foot.

2001 was probably the height of the steroid era. Over in the NL, Barry Bonds had his record 73-homer campaign, with Sammy Sosa chipping in 64 and even Luis Gonzalez hitting 57. Things weren’t quite so silly in the American League, but consider that Rafael Palmeiro had 47 homers and 123 RBI and finished tied for 14th in the MVP balloting.

There were five legitimate candidates for AL MVP that year, none necessarily head and shoulders above the others:

Roberto Alomar (2B Cle): .336/.415/.541, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 30 SB in 575 AB
Bret Boone (2B Sea): .331/.372/.578, 37 HR, 141 RBI, 5 SB in 623 AB
Jason Giambi (1B Oak): .342/.477/.660, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 2 SB in 520 AB
Alex Rodriguez (SS Tex): .318/.399/.622, 52 HR, 135 RBI, 18 SB in 632 AB
Ichiro Suzuki (RF Sea): .350/.381/.457, 8 HR, 69 RBI, 56 SB in 692 AB

Most correctly figured the balloting would come down to Ichiro and Giambi. Ichiro had the narrative, having just arrived from Japan in time to lead the Mariners to a record 116-win season. He was also vying to become the first player since Fred Lynn in 1975 to win both the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in the same year. Giambi was second to Ichiro in average, first in OBP and first in slugging, all for a 102-win A’s club. Maybe Rodriguez was truly the AL’s best player, but his Rangers won 73 games; he ended up finishing sixth in the balloting.

Of course, statheads at the time believed Giambi was more valuable than Ichiro. We weren’t quite so noisy about it then, but it seemed pretty obvious to us. No amount of speed and defense from a right fielder was making up for 300 points of OPS. In fact, Ichiro wasn’t even the Mariners’ best player; Boone had pretty much the same OBP, an extra 100 points of slugging and probably the greater defensive value of the two.

Alas, Ichiro won in a close vote. He got 11 of the 28 first-place votes, compared to eight for Giambi, and he won 289 points to 281. Boone got seven first-place votes and finished third. Alomar, playing for a first-place Cleveland team, got the remaining two first-place votes and finished fourth.

11 years later things have swung the other way around. The 2012 AL MVP will come down to these two guys:

Miguel Cabrera (3B Det): .325/.390/.601, 43 HR, 136 RBI, 4 SB in 612 AB
Mike Trout (CF LAA): .321/.395/.557, 30 HR, 80 RBI, 48 SB in 546 AB

And now the statheads favor the all-around player. It’s not hard to see why. Ichiro and Giambi were separated by 300 points of OPS. Cabrera and Trout are separated by 40. Defense and baserunning certainly makes up for that.

As for the Triple Crown, it’s really neat, but in the end, it wouldn’t make Cabrera any less valuable if someone else in the league had hit .360 or finished with 50 homers. Cabrera isn’t outpacing the rest of the league this year like Giambi did in 2001. Giambi had 97 points of OPS on anyone else in the league. Cabrera has 39. Giambi’s OPS+ was 199, Cabrera’s is 164. Cabrera had higher OPSs and OPS+s in both 2010 and ’11.

And Trout, obviously, is hitting a whole lot better than Ichiro did in 2001. He’s second in the AL in OPS. Ichiro was 26th. Trout has a 167 OPS+, Ichiro was at 126.

There is one complicating factor: because Trout opened the year in the minors, Cabrera has played an extra 22 games. That carries quite a bit of weight in my mind. I’d still vote Trout, but I’m not going to be all that disappointed when Cabrera wins.

It seems to me that everyone dug in on Trout vs. Cabrera weeks ago, which is a shame, because it really has rendered September irrelevant. It’s also pretty sad, since it seems like no one can write a column defending their choice without attacking the other side.

Here’s the way I see it: Trout is having a historic season, with a legitimate flaw in that he was a non-factor in April. Cabrera is having a Cabrera season; he’s one of the game’s three best hitters and thus is worthy of MVP consideration on an annual basis. He’s about due to win one. He hasn’t been the best player, but he has been awfully good for 22 more games than the other guy. And one imagines Trout will be a candidate a few more times before he’s done.

  1. btwicey - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    Agreed. Either way they’re both extremely valuable.

  2. raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    I agree with all of this. If I had a vote, it’d be 1) Trout, 2) Cabrera. However, it will be no rip-off, travesty, or whatever anyone wants to call it if Cabrera gets the award.

    However, for those trumpeting the Triple Crown as if that should end all debate– if either Hamilton or Encarnacion end up with 1 more HR than Cabrera, will that really diminish the greatness of his season? Of course not. Now try acknowledging that Cabrera earning the Triple Crown also does not affect the greatness of Trout’s season either.

    • dino1730 - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:54 PM

      Both are having historic seasons offensively, and this is so hard to pick between the 2. I would vote Cabrera, personally. Cabrera is definitely the best hitter in baseball, and as far as I’m concerned hitting is the hardest part of the game of baseball. Trout is a superb offensive player with many different ways of producing runs for a team, but for me, if it was game 7 of the World Series, tied in the 9th, in any situation I would rather have Cabrera at the dish than Trout.

      • anythingbutyanks - Oct 3, 2012 at 8:22 PM

        In that very limited scenario there are quite a few people I would take over Trout at this point in his career. The situation you’ve chosen as a proxy has simply zero bearing on who is the MVP for the 2012 season.

  3. dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Triple Crown and clutch hitting that puts the Tigers in the playoffs as opposed to consistant play but no playoffs and not nearly as much clutch hitting for Trout. I mean Cabrera literally helped ensure their playoff run and Trout couldn’t quite help them over the hump. With a triple crown as well i dont think its going to be as close as some do. Cabrera wins MVP, Trout rooking of the year, and everyones happy. By the way, dont you figure it was poetic justince in 2001 that Ichiro, who probably never used PEDs (at least it seems that way), won the MVP over all the obvious users? Numbers or not im glad it went that way.

    • frug - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:50 AM

      Except that Trout has actually been a better clutch hitter…

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=al&qual=y&type=3&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=11,a

      • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:57 AM

        I was only really referring to September.

      • thehypercritic - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:00 AM

        You do realize that games in September are worth exactly as much as they are in every other month, right?

        Teams don’t get extra credit in the standings for winning at different points in the regular season, so why would any rational adult try to pretend September games are magic?

      • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:26 AM

        Then why does everyone say in April, May, June and July (its ok, we can turn it around, we got time). Games in the beginning of the season mean the same in wins a losses, but never mean the same as games at the end of the season. Play 140 games through bruises and injuries, long days and nights, nonstop weeks of baseball sometimes, never seeing your family, friends, or even relaxing more than half a day at a time and then go out and try to hit a clutch 2 run double in the bottom of the 7th against the team thats fighting you for first place and tell me it means the same as a game in April. Where did you even come from? Just one, make just ONE comment that makes sense in this topic. You can do it, take your time and maybe it will come to you, eventually….

      • thehypercritic - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:34 AM

        “Games in the beginning of the season mean the same in wins a losses, but never mean the same as games at the end of the season.”

        You wrote that sentence. You followed it up with a defense in regards to fatigue — which every player needs to deal with so it favors no individual — but you wrote that piece of cognitive dissonance.

        A win is a win, a loss is a loss. They’re all played against best players on the planet and they’re all worth exactly the same.

      • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:52 AM

        Ok, lets put it this way, do you truly believe winning game 1 of the world series is the same as winning game 5 when in both instances your tied? Thats my point. They are both wins, but some wins are clearly more important when you look at the context of things. A key win in August and September is more important because it may be the difference in a season. All managers say these things at the end of a season, not the beginning. No manager says in May “man, that series was our season right there” or “yeah this next stretch of games will make or break us”. Not in May. Not in June. August and September, oh yeah, every year its said. So if the players and managers find these games as more important, how can a fan like you say their wrong. Trouts year has been amazing. He will win MVPS and be a star for many years. But this MVP, in my opinion (see, i said that again, learn to respect ones opinions), belongs to Cabrera. Now go ahead, insult me again and disregard anything i have ever said because your so positive im wrong and won’t respect an opinion which i have actually backed up with facts.

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 1, 2012 at 6:14 AM

        Even with Trout and Pujols, the Angels will not make the playoffs. Detroit will make the playoffs.

      • paperlions - Oct 1, 2012 at 8:04 AM

        Only because they are in the worst division in baseball….the Tigers would be 2 games behind LAA (and probably more if they actually played in the AL West) if they were in the same division. Awarding Cabrera for the luck of playing in a shitty division is stupid.

    • thehypercritic - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:56 AM

      1. There’s no evidence for the existence of clutch hitting as a skill. For all we know, you’re crediting Cabrera for randomness.

      2. Team performance gets to the playoffs, not a single player. As it’s an individual award, anyone crediting a candidate for his teammate’s accomplishments should be mocked.

      3. The Angels, playing in a tougher division, have a better record than the Tigers. The difference in their playoff hopes lies with the quality of the other players in their divisions — yet you’re using the lesser play of everyone in the AL Central to build a case for Cabrera.

      4. What in the world does a triple crown have to do with overall value as a ball player.

      I honestly can’t tell if these people are trolling us, are a very vocal and illogical minority or simply further evidence of America’s educational decline.

      • ezthinking - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:10 AM

        Where’s your bullet point for Trout folding up like a cheap suit today when the pressure was on? He won’t win with the narrative from today – punch out in the 9th game 1, 0-3 two K’s in a season-critical game 2. Torii Hunter has been more valuable to the Angels at a more critical time.

        This race is over. It’s Cabrera’s award.

      • thehypercritic - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:18 AM

        The game this evening is not more critical than any other game. It’s worth exactly the same. Any voter who considers a narrative, or anyone excuses people for voting for Cabrera over Trout without being able to form a coherent and fact-based argument, should be barred from voting in the future.

        They respect the process as little as those who voted for Volquez to win rookie of the year when he wasn’t eligible.

        I don’t have a dog in this hunt, and I’m probably a bigger fan of Cabrera than of Trout, but the notion that anyone could even consider voting for a player other than Trout in 2012 makes me genuinely considered for their capacity to reason.

      • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:19 AM

        You must be from Philly to insult people like that for no reason with ignorant rants. Lets see, Cabrera does something that hasnt been done in probably either of our lifetimes. Ya, thats insignificant. And nothing in my comment said Trout has been bad, or isnt deserving. But in my opinion the last month or 2 tends to decide the MVP, especially since it seemed clear it was between the 2 of them since early august. And in my opinion, Cabreras been better and thus will win the MVP. So lets look at your points and prove to the world how stupid you are.

        1. Clutch hitting isnt a skill. Ok, that speaks for itself as idiotic.

        2. Team performance gets into the playoffs. Absolutely, but since the difference between the playoffs and not for the Tigers will be about 4 games, and Cabreras play has won about 4 games for the tigers since August, ya, once again, your point is idiotic cuz it missed the point. You didn’t do well in english comprehension in school did you?

        3. Angels playing in a tougher division. Well lets see, the world series champions always come from the toughest divisions right? Every year right? And the Angels have a better record? 2 games better. Huge difference there. Another idiotic comment.

        4. And what does the Triple Crown have to do with overall value as a player? Really, you watch baseball and you asked arguably the DUMBEST question i have ever heard? Really. RBIs, HRs, and BA have nothing to do with overall value to a team. Let alone when you lead the league in all 3. Amazing you made it to adulthood. Do you work at mcdonalds? Your job can’t be complicated. If it is, god help us all…

        I expect you to try and prove a point, except you didn’t prove one to begin with. Want to try again as if its the first time??? Good luck!!!

      • thehypercritic - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:30 AM

        I’m not from Philly, but when you espouse nonsense you invite mockery.

        Your opinion that the last two months are more valuable has no bearing in reality so it should be discarded immediately.

        Again, not a single study of the subject has ever proven clutch hitting as a repeatable skill. Might it be? Sure, but as there’s no evidence for it why should we consider it?

        Team performance should never be considered for an individual award. At all. Ever.

        Of course the World Series champion doesn’t always come from the toughest division. That’s as silly as suggesting the World Series champion crowns the best team. But the notion that Trout’s superior team performance against superior competition should in anyway be a hindrance to his candidacy defies logic.

        The triple crown is a neat compilation of random stats that has no since been surpassed in our ability to accurately measure offensive contributions. Beyond the absurdity of using batting average over on base percentage, or counting RBIs as if they weren’t largely the function of the competence of one’s teammates, OPS+ is simply more accurate and normalized. Just because something’s cool and rare doesn’t mean it’s important.

        I honestly can’t tell if you’re trolling or if you actually believe this silliness. Are you simply drunk? Have you hit your head on something?

      • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:44 AM

        Simply stating something with no facts doesn’t make you right? Your logic is bad. You have no facts. “Your opinion that the last two months are more valuable has no bearing in reality so it should be discarded immediately. ” Why? Put a reason behind this insane comment. I did when i said the last 2 months are far more important. Again, nothing you have said makes sense, and your comment about trolling is like we are in kindergarden. My first comment was an opinion, you ripped it without a single ounce of evidence in your argument and said i was trolling. You didn’t counter argue any of my next comments with any basis for your argument, except its your opinion, you must be right, and i must be wrong. And since im wrong, i must be a trolling idiot. Wow, again i ponder how you have made it through life.

      • thehypercritic - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:49 AM

        You stated the basis for my argument: wins and loses are worth exactly the same no matter the month in which they occur.

        That’s not opinion. That’s a stubborn fact that simply cannot be argued with.

      • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:00 AM

        Read my above comment on wins and losses. Again i strongly disagree with you here. Your ignoring the human element, the timing, the situation the comes from the end of a season. Were the Cardinals and Rays eliminated in June last year? The Athletics and Rangers play there final 3 against eachother. If oakland sweeps and takes the division, will anyone say it was because of a single win against the mariners in April? Can’t disregard my point and ignore these statements. Well someone like you can surprisingly…lol.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Oct 1, 2012 at 7:04 AM

        Of course the moment and the situation are significant. My personal belief is that Mannny Ramirez was so good in the clutch not because he performed any better; it’s just that he reallly didn’t care about the situation and the pitcher did – thus making the pitcher perform not as well as he might under diffferent circumstances.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 1, 2012 at 7:41 AM

        Simply stating something with no facts doesn’t make you right? Your logic is bad. You have no facts.

        Nothing like someone blasting another for not using facts to back up statements, and then you don’t do the same either. Allow me to take a shot:

        Clutch hitting – This article by Joe Sheehan for Baseball Prospectus references earlier work in which the idea that a player has a consistent ability to hit in the clutch was not found, save in two players over a 15 year study. Exact wording:

        Johnson didn’t argue that the two had this trait, just that of the players in the study, they were the only two whose performance with runners in scoring position showed a statistically significant improvement

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

        Absolutely, but since the difference between the playoffs and not for the Tigers will be about 4 games, and Cabreras play has won about 4 games for the tigers since August, ya, once again, your point is idiotic cuz it missed the point.

        Not even sure what you are referencing here. But where does the 4 games that Cabrera has won come into play? Where’s your citation?

        3. Angels playing in a tougher division. Well lets see, the world series champions always come from the toughest divisions right? Every year right?

        This is such a blunt statement, I’m convinced it’s sarcasm. Who says the WS winner always comes from the toughest division? Again, citation please

        And the Angels have a better record? 2 games better. Huge difference there. Another idiotic comment.

        Angels with another two wins, 90-69 and 1 GB for a playoff spot. Angels with current wins, need multiple sweeps to get into a play in game. Detroit with 2 less wins, 1 game up on Chi instead of needing a win or Chi loss to clinch division.

        4. And what does the Triple Crown have to do with overall value as a player? Really, you watch baseball and you asked arguably the DUMBEST question i have ever heard? Really. RBIs, HRs, and BA have nothing to do with overall value to a team. Let alone when you lead the league in all 3. Amazing you made it to adulthood. Do you work at mcdonalds? Your job can’t be complicated. If it is, god help us all…

        Hyperbole is the greatest thing ever! No comment, just reposting this for a laugh.

      • Jeremy T - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        Hooray for 15 year olds with strong opinions!

      • witeman10 - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:11 PM

        If clutch hitting isnt a skill, then the cardinals wouldnt have won the world series last year wen all the fancy sabermetrics predicted the rangers would cruise. but alas, the “mythical” clutch hitting of albert pujols and clutch pitching by carpenter led the sabermatric prediction to be incorrect. CLUTCH DOES EXIST!

        and the fact of the matter is, Trout has NOT been playing at an mvp level for the vast majority of the 2nd half of the season. if it wasnt for the ridiculous hot start he got off to wen he was batting .350, wen pitchers were throwing him balls right over the heart of the plate every time cuz they thought he was just some chump rookie, his numbers wouldnt look nearly as good. Since pitchers have started to figure him out he hasn’t been an MVP caliber player. while cabrera has maintained a ridiculous level of consistency for all 162 games. there’s something to be said about that. anyone can get hot for a stretch. its harder to keep it up. if trout kept up how he played early on wen he was first called up, id give him MVP. but im starting to think that was a bit of a fluke and he’s really more of a .300 hitter in reality (look at his numbers post all star). which, while very good, to me is not MVP worthy. at least not this year.

        any person hu has actually played the game can tell u that PRESSURE, NERVES, and CLUTCH are real things. even if u cant measure them scientifically. not everything is a science…and ill trust the players and managers on this, hu actually play the game every day and feel the very real emotions involved, and they all agree for MIGGY MVP!!

    • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      dcfan4life, you have to understand that the commenters on HBT think that the players are robots. That the game situation doesn’t matter. These are people who think that the 3rd inning is as stressful as the 9th inning. They don’t believe in the save and they most certainly do not believe in clutch. If you can’t make up a number for something, then it simply does not exist. Don’t try to get any of these people to agree with you. They never will. What they do is go to their conferences, they will vote for their sabre-hero wet dream Trout over Cabrera for MVP, even though most of the players would vote for Cabrera. The sabre-geeks will tell you that most of the GMs would vote for Trout. So? Are we building a team or are we voting for the guy that the people who play with him on the field think has had the best season? Of course, the GMs. If the guy wins the Triple Crown, he should be a lock, but sadly, sabremetrics has devalued HRs, RBIs and BA to the point where a guy who is on a pace to knock in 120 runs is just having a so-so season.

      It’s the reason I have mostly lurked here this year…oh and also the Phillies have sucked so bad that even the master baiter wasn’t on his A game this year. He’s just a softee anymore.

      • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 6:27 PM

        I have realized in this little “rant” that i didn’t even make a dent in the minds of some here. I think we both agree if you play baseball, and have intense situations, then you have clutch pitching and hitting. Anyone who says stats don’t show that confuses me. A pitcher has to make a pitch, a hitter has to make a hit, all in front of 60,000 fans and many more on tv watching or they lose a game that can cost the postseason and somehow that isnt clutch. I dont get that logic and i agree with you, no point going nuts if your not changing anyones mind either right?

    • djpostl - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      All these people criticizing Trout down the home stretch need to look at Miggy’s splits before talking.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/share.cgi?id=muLF6

  4. kiwicricket - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    Wouldn’t a comparison between Alomar and Trout be very reasonable(more accurate)? Both their defensive positions weigh more than a corner OF position. Both add enormous value to their batting stats by playing elite defense.

    2001 Alomar over Ichiro? Both are GG caliber defenders, but Alomar at 2B and a boat load of OPS over Ichiro. Either way, the guy had a very underrated season.

  5. craggt - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    As a tigers fan I see a lot of people really pushing for Cabrera and I understand it, obviously everyone wants their guy to win. I think a lot of it comes from the fear that if he doesn’t win one now with the triple crown he’ll never win one. If you had to pick a MVP from the last 3 years it would probably be Cabrera, his consistency is amazing but each year there is one player who surpasses him. They feel like he’s not getting the recognition he deserves since he’s always so good it’s almost taken for granted around the league. Both of the fully entrenched sides need to take a breath and acknowledge that both players are exceptional. They’re both having amazing seasons, Trout will win the MVP, as he should. Tigers fans can take solace in the fact that a) an MVP award is given out every year, the triple crown hasn’t been won in more than 4 decades, and b) strength of division aside the Tigers are going to the playoffs which is more important than an award

    • thehypercritic - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:46 AM

      I could not agree more. Cabrera’s having a fantastic season in line with a hall of fame career.

      The worst anyone is saying is that Cabera’s one of the two or three best players in baseball this season. That’s no slight.

      But their contributions this season aren’t close enough to really argue over so I’m startled when seeing people twist themselves into knots to do so. Trout’s season may likely be the best of his career, but it’s just been silly in every phase of the game.

    • dcfan4life - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:06 AM

      Still think Cabrera takes the MVP but i like your well worded, strong argument with unbiased and respectful opinions there. thehypercritic insults opinions to make his opinions supposedly stronger. Until this topic i have never went off on someone like that, but when he attacked me for no reason instead of politely questioning my reasoning it just showed how low he has to go to try and get a point across. I am glad people like you can take a breathe, put in a strong comment that even if one disagrees with as I do, earns ones respect. Thank you, great comment. Hope to read more from you.

    • o856003 - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:14 AM

      That’s funny because as an Angels fan, I feel the opposite. Cabrera deserves it. Trout’s last two months have been lackluster. He hit .284 in August and is only hitting .255 in September. Cabrera’s been good all year long. Plus, Cabrera’s clutch hitting is much better: his average with runners on base is .339 vs. Trout’s .302, and his average in the 7th inning or later is .331 vs. .255. Trout had a fantastic May-July, but he’s been cold since. When it comes to those at-bats that win games, it’s Cabrera, hands down.

      • drewsylvania - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:15 AM

        I don’t have a big preference in this race, but using only batting average is flawed.

  6. vikesfansteve - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    13 more HR’s & 56 more RBI’s!

    • rooney24 - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      19 more runs scored, and 44 more steals!

      The inherent flaws in counting numbers are a big part of the rise of sabermetrics. While HRs are certainly something more defined by just the players, RBIs are team dependent. Cabrera bats 3rd in the lineup, while Trout typically bats leadoff. Actually, 80 RBIs for Trout from leadoff, and not starting in the majors, is very impressive.

      Trout starting in the minors is another reason that the counting numbers cannot be compared head to head as easily. Had Trout been in the majors the entire year and maintained his same production, he would have approximatly 35 HRs and 93 RBIs, which would have closed your gap. Although, when you start to project those things, it can get dicey, as you cannot guarantee production.

      • hgfrombc2 - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:11 PM

        Admittedly, I’m a Detroit homer.
        That being said, I have all the respect in the world for the season that Trout is having, but obviously would like to see Cabrera win MVP. If he doesn’t, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it – just as I didn’t in 2010 when Hamilton won.

        Feel free to jump all over this comment, but I can’t help but wonder:
        If Trout had started the season in the majors, would’ve he have hit the wall 22 games earlier?
        All things being equal, it’s not beyond comprehension.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:07 PM

        hg…
        Nothing to jump on. Trout might have hit a wall. Then again, he might not have. Starting in April introduces variables that cannot be reasonably tested. For the same reason nobody can reasonably say Trout would have hit x more HRs or RBIs.

  7. dawgpoundmember - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    Thank you Matt, this article has shown what I have thought all along as a Tiger fan; which is Miggys possible triple crown has happened < 4 HR game and even < a perfect game, but not one stat he leads in itself is historic. I understand Trout could be in the 40/40 club if he had played the whole season, but in the only season ever that has had three perfect games, it's a pitchers season. I don't care if Miggy gets the triple crown or MVP, chances are with three games to play, Miggy will be playing more meaningful games in October, which math proves, matters more than WAR.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 1, 2012 at 7:02 AM

      I don’t care if Miggy gets the triple crown or MVP, chances are with three games to play, Miggy will be playing more meaningful games in October, which math proves, matters more than WAR.

      Again, why should Cabrera get credit for playing on a worse team in a worse division?
      Detroit – 86-73, .541 win% – first in division
      LAA – 88-71, .572 win% – 3rd in division and looking outside the playoff picture

      How is this a benefit to Cabrera’s chances?

      • craggt - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        You’re missing he point. He’s saying he doesn’t care about the award, he cares about being in the playoffs, which true Tigers fans should care about.

      • craggt - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        You’re missing his point. He’s saying he doesn’t care about the award, he cares about being in the playoffs, which true Tigers fans should care about.

    • pauleee - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      How many gift baskets does Cabrera need to buy the White Sox? Given that their 11 wins in September has handed him the apparent tiebreaker in this whole situation?

      Not a Cabrera hater, and am rooting for him to capture the TC. Just seems wrong to keep bringing up making the playoffs as a deciding factor.

  8. fusionix7 - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:55 AM

    If the voters actually take into effect MVP, as in Most Valuable Player to their team it’s Cabrera. The Tigers don’t get a whiff of the playoffs if he isn’t in the lineup. Outside of Jackson and Fielder there is no consistent offensive player, Dirks would be the closest. Trout is having an outstanding season, but comparatively with the Angels they are at least close to a playoff team without him

    • o856003 - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:20 AM

      I think you’re right. Despite the fact that Trout has been slumping the last two months, the Angels are still winning lots of games. That’s because there’s 5-6 other guys in that lineup who can win games on any given night. The Tigers have Jackson, Fielder, and Cabrera, and then nobody. You can make a case for Dirks, but he was on the DL for nearly 3 months. Cabrera carried that team, hit when it mattered most in games, and they are nowhere near a playoff team without him.

    • dawgpoundmember - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:33 AM

      You gotta remember jackson was out of the lineup and thats when a career minor leaguer played center (aka replacement player) and played just as well, if not better because he stole bases at a tremendous higher rate.

      • frank433 - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:59 PM

        Tigers are 78-55 (.586) with Austin Jackson in the lineup in 2012. 8-18 without (.308).

  9. paperlions - Oct 1, 2012 at 8:14 AM

    It seems that the “discussion” has only two components:

    1) Tiger fans that just want Miggy to win and don’t care how many mental pretzels they have to make to justify it. No one blames you, we understand.

    2) Everyone else. Who realize that Trout has been Miggy’s equal offensively (including base running) and who blows him away with his defensive value.

    • frank433 - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:08 PM

      Here’s my beef with the “defensive comparison”
      Miguel is “more valuable” to the Tigers as an average 3rd baseman than Trout is to the Angels as a gold glove caliber center fielder because of the flexibility it gave the Tigers to sign Prince Fielder. Yes, Trout is a better defender at his position than Cabrera, but that’s more a gold glove argument, not necessarily a MVP decider.

      On a side note, Cabrera is posting a career best defensive WAR this season. I’m amused by that fact after all the hand wringing about his terrible defense

  10. loungefly74 - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    I respect the “new age” stats…but i’m an old school guy…i think the Triple Crown is friggin’ awesome. I remember in my youth looking at baseball stats and being in awe of the TC, the elusive .400 and other rare feats…that said, i think a lot of baseball fans/writers/bloggers/specialists/etc…are struck by analysis paralysis…just over thinking every aspect of the game. i’m still scratching my head when someone says RBI’s are outdated and such…really? I thought the point of the game was to score more runs than the other team? and yeah, i hear the “moneyball” people (loved the book and movie) say “well…there are better ways to show a player’s worth.” yeah, i got it, sure, i respect that and agree in some sense…but its still pretty cool to hit your teammates in. sheesh…i feel like i’m explaining to a kid why the 1969 SS Camaro is a bad arse car but he thinks a suped-up 2012 Honda Civic is the vehicle to lust over….

    not trying to hate…i love baseball. baseball is king. i hope cabrera wins…and yeah, a big reason is because he won/will win/might win the Triple F*ckin Crown…

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      “i feel like i’m explaining to a kid why the 1969 SS Camaro is a bad arse car but he thinks a suped-up 2012 Honda Civic is the vehicle to lust over.”

      Well stated Fly. I gave you a thumbs up in spite of me feeling Trout is more deserving.

    • paperlions - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      I love how people that consider themselves “old school”, who are generally the first to decry the lack of fundamentals or quality defense, are also the first to ignore all of the “old school” qualities (aggressive and good base running, awesome defense) that Trout brings that Cabrera does not.

      • loungefly74 - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:33 PM

        well…in the grand scheme of things…i am NOT old school, i admit. i started watching baseball in the mid 80′s…i guess thats not really old school. but to me, it is…considering how different the game is viewed today statstically.

        paperlions, yeah, i deserve to flogged, tarred n’ feathered for sounding like an old grumpy man. i guess my feelings are hurt that the stats i grew up with, at the time, were well revered (BA, RBI, HR)…how the hell am i supposed to feel growing up thinking the triple crown was of only of legend? and now…in 2012…the triple crown? ehhh…outdatted? it pisses me off! alright…(collecting my nerves)

        If Trout wins…good for him…his numbers are MVP worthy. and yes, fundamentals and quality defense is extremely important…cant argue with you on that, paperlions…i’m just being a little whiny b*tch…

        God…I love baseball…

  11. stlouis1baseball - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Mike Trout for MVP.
    Hell…Mike Trout for President!

    • witeman10 - Oct 1, 2012 at 3:36 PM

      im done arguing this (thats a lie).

      but its cool, trout can have MVP if people love the WAR stat so much. Maybe miggy can just get the world series MVP, since he’ll actually have a chance at it unlike Trout…

  12. drewsylvania - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    The funniest part about this debate is the people who insist sabernerds overlook the human element, and then say that so-and-so “is more clutch” or “has a higher average” or more homers or RBI.

    Those are stats, people. And they’re a lot more flawed than, say, oWAR.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      This is very nearly the only comment that matters out of the bunch. Sums up the matter quite nicely.

      And by the way, Clutch can only be seen — it can’t be measured with them fancy sabermetric detect-o-tron machines.

  13. lumpyf - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, I don’t have any doubt he will win the MVP. There are still enough geezers voting to ensure this will happen. It will take another generation to die off before advanced statistics carry equal weight with the BBWAA voters.

  14. nflfollower - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Every year there are two MVP winners. In the next 20 years, there will be 40. 20 from the AL and 20 from the NL. Cabrera may very well be the ONLY baseball player to win the triple crown in my entire lifetime. And yet, in that same lifetime, there likely would be anywhere from 140-180 MVP winners.

    Soooo……. Forget mentioning who finished stronger, who played better when games “mattered more” (although some will insist every game is equivalent—-I hope those people cringe every time someone refers to Reggie Jackson as Mr. October). Keep trying to deny human emotion with sterile mathematics—-there is way more pressure in September to produce than there is in April and May. These aren’t robots, they are human ballplayers. That argument falls apart when you actually stop to think about it.

    One last fact. If Miguel Cabrera spoke good english and looked like, say, Joe Mauer, and was about to win the triple crown—-there wouldn’t be so many people saying he shouldn’t win the MVP. Hate to bring that into it, but people just looooove them some Mike Trout.

    • pauleee - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      I cannot FUCKING believe you just introduced race into this argument! And preficed it by calling it “fact”.

      //nfl in username
      //stands by previous statements

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      “One last fact. If Miguel Cabrera spoke good english and looked like, say, Joe Mauer, and was about to win the triple crown—-there wouldn’t be so many people saying he shouldn’t win the MVP. Hate to bring that into it, but people just looooove them some Mike Trout.”

      You don’t “hate” to bring that into it. You love bringing that into it.
      No different than all the other race baiters.
      Go back to following the NFL.

  15. bigtrav425 - Oct 1, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Robby Alomar got ripped off that year

  16. blabidibla - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Miggy is going to win. Games at the end of the season do mean more… to those voting. It’s emotional. It’s not stat based. Right or wrong , there is an emotional element that goes into the voting each and ever year, and it will happen again in 2012.

    Trout – ROY
    Miggy – MVP

  17. schlom - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    What was strange about the 2001 MVP Award is that Ichiro’s 2001 season was very similar to Darin Erstad’s 2000 season (although Erstad’s was a bit better), yet Erstad finished 8th in the MVP with no first place votes while Ichiro won. Obviously the Angels 82-80 record played a huge role in that but for voters to completely turn around their voting in one season seems surprising.

  18. witeman10 - Oct 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    let’s compare the consistency of these two players…

    Cabrera:

    Overall AVG
    Pre All-Star .324
    Post All-Star .327

    Trout:
    AVG
    Pre All-Star .341
    Post All-Star .302

    wat trout backers seem to ignore is just how significant a difference there is between trout’s 1st and 2nd half numbers. This major drop in batting average to me indicates that the .341 he batted pre all star was a bit of a fluke resulting from pitchers trying to figure out a batter they’ve never faced before. Trout likely isn’t as good a batter that his overall average for this year suggests or he would’ve been able to maintain his average throughout a larger sample size like cabrera did. since the all start break he has regressed perhaps to the mean. and that mean would not be MVP worthy against cabrera, who has been steady and consistent for all 162 games. something to be said about consistency vs. a flukey hot streak.

    • paperlions - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      Man, I hope you stretched first.

    • witeman10 - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      i cant wait for next year to see trout bat below .300 while cabrera bats near .330 again and everyone is like…hmmm maybe cabrera really is the better player and trout was more of a WONDERBOY fluke! hahaha trollololol

      GO TIGERS! LETS CLINCH TONIGHT!!

      look out for them tigers son. they have the mythical clutch power hitting that the cardinals had last year, and if scherzer is healthy they’ll have a Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, Sanchez rotation….about as good as any if not arguably the best in the AL.

    • frug - Oct 1, 2012 at 4:08 PM

      Trout

      OBP
      Pre AS .397
      Post AS .394

      SLG
      Pre AS .562
      Post AS .552

      Yes his batting average dropped, but he compensated by drawing more walks and hitting for more raw power.

  19. kevinbnyc - Oct 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Two takeaways here:

    1. Does the fact that Trout played 22 fewer games than Cabrera make his season flawed? I feel like its that much more impressive. He could conceivably have come close to a 40/40 season.

    2. Ichiro was clearly on steroids on 2001. He must have been to beat out all those juicers. (Sarcasm…for the oblivious)

  20. Jason @ IIATMS - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    The worst part is if Trout wins (and he’d have my vote), it will again be a referendum on “stat heads” vs. “old school”, much like they did when Felix and Lincecum won their Cy’s without gaudy win totals.

    Their teams are both in the race for the playoffs, so that’s irrelevant to me (regarding if one team makes it and the other doesn’t; not like we’re talking cellar-dwellers).

    To me, defense counts a ton.

    Also, I’d give strong consideration to total bases, which favors Trout (at last I checked).

    I won’t cry if Cabrera wins but I think Trout has been the more complete contributor to his team’s success, hence Most Valuable.

  21. witeman10 - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    i think it should also be taken into consideration that miguel cabrera has one of the greatest mugshots in the history of baseball…

    his mugshot also shows his infectious smile that he clearly likes to maintain even in the worst of situations. that’s called an intangible. something the tigers clubhouse benefits from wen the team is struggling…

    MVP! MVP!

  22. lks311 - Oct 1, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    This is a stirring debate. I’d vote Cabrera. Trout has had a great year, but why did it take almost a month to promote him to the big leagues? If he had missed 22 games because of injuries would we still be touting his candidacy so loudly? Just saying.

  23. drpompanoduke - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Really a game in September in a division race counts the same as an April game in the rain where everyone wants to get off the field…. Gosh that’s right Reggie was known as Mr May……the kid from LA is well under 300 in the 2nd half & even lower in Sept. There are a lot of CF who field & steal bases while hitting 250. Perhaps we should not put him into the HOF until he hits above 300 after all star break.

  24. krzyman70 - Oct 1, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    Lets not forget that Cabrera willingly switched from 1st base to 3rd place so that the Tigers could sign Prince Fielder. Not too many superstars with their egos would do that. While he might not be a gold glove 3rd baseman, he’s been a lot better defensively than anyone would expect. He’s only made 13 errors.

  25. xjokerz - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:27 AM

    Oh look another trout nut hugger miggy deserves it, and the Angels… 4 games back of the playoffs. Next please

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