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Miguel Cabrera is currently in Triple Crown position

Sep 30, 2012, 9:21 AM EDT

miguel cabrera getty Getty Images

Baseball’s Triple Crown is sort of cool because it’s been celebrated for close to a century and because 12 of the 13 players to accomplish the feat went on to join the Hall of Fame. It’s also outdated, as new stats have emerged that do a better job of evaluating offensive production. But enough of our lecturing.

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera launched his 43rd home run of the season in Saturday afternoon’s 6-4 defeat of the Twins, moving back into position to capture the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski finished with a .326 batting average, 44 homers and 121 RBI over 161 games for the Red Sox in 1967.

Cabrera is sporting a .327 batting average. In second is Angels outfielder Mike Trout at .321.

Cabrera is up to 43 home runs, which has him tied with Josh Hamilton for the major league lead.

Cabrera has 136 RBI. Hamilton has 125 RBI. That advantage is likely safe with just four games to play.

Some might argue that a Triple Crown should lock up the American League MVP for Miggy, but the aforementioned Trout has the AL lead in OPS+ and is a far better defender and baserunner. It’ll be close.

  1. eric174 - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    “It’s also outdated, as new stats have emerged that do a better job of evaluating offensive production.”

    Wow. That is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I’ve read/heard in a while.

    I mean…what could possibly matter about batting average. Or home runs. Or runs batted in. Those stats
    are basically meaningless these days. Right?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      Hey look kids, someone’s beating up a straw man!

      There are other stats that better measure offensive production than just counting stats. Many have been posted in the 1903293 different Cabrera vs Trout threads. Should try reading some…

      • Glenn - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:56 PM

        Trout has the Triple Crown of runs, stolen bases, and OPS+ – all as relevant or more to the traditional ones.

      • Glenn - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:44 PM

        Stay ignorant!

    • baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      Home runs are important. Batting average is a very incomplete stat and RBI’s are pretty meaningless.

  2. buffalo65 - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Here’s hoping Edwin Encarnation gets hot and wins the homer crown.

    • cur68 - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:18 PM

      E5′s m’boy. He’s right there. All he needs is a couple meet-balls (bat, meet ball) and he’s all over Hamilton and Cabrera. My boys have nothing else but that to show for this season. C’mon E5, spoil it for Miggy. Do it for all the good things in the world. For cake and girls and nice summer days. Do it for all Beaver Kind.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        Boooo!

      • cur68 - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

        So. You hate cake, girls, and nice summer days, eh? You hate all beaver, eh? Well. There’s nuthin but fer it, then. Dang you historiophiliac. Dang you to heck.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:35 PM

        I just like getting you riled up to see if you’ll break out the Queen’s English on us again…and also I’m a huge Tigers fan. Go Miggy!

  3. jayscarpa - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    What a great hitter.
    The irony with this guy is that he moved to 3B to help the team, works his ass off at it, and then gets crucified for his play at 3B in MVP talks. If he has a MVP clause in his contract the Tigers should give him the bonus either way.

    • clydeserra - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      even if he was at first, trout is way way better.

    • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 2:57 PM

      Um, care to link to somebody who’s ever written “That selfish jerk Cabrera didn’t want to move to 3B”? Or “That lazy bum Cabrera hasn’t put in the work to try to get better at playing 3B”?

      Look, it’s great that Cabrera moved to 3B without complaint, and I’m sure he’s worked hard to get better at it. But last time I checked, the MVP award isn’t awarded for attitude or effort, it’s awarded for performance. Personally, I have no idea how well Cabrera plays 3B, but if he’s just mediocre at best (as seems to be the consensus), well, then he’s mediocre, no matter what his attitude is or how many ground balls he’s taken. And if he’s mediocre, people are perfectly entitled to say so, and to take that into account in deciding who should be the MVP. That’s not “ironic”, that’s just reality. Had Cabrera stayed at 1B, people would still be saying that Trout plays better defense at a more difficult position than Cabrera does, and they’d still be saying that Trout is a much better baserunner than Cabrera. And they’d still be right.

      Plus, it’s not like Trout has a bad attitude. I know you didn’t say or imply he does, but if we’re going to talk about Cabrera’s attitude, we should also talk about Trout’s. Trout didn’t complain about not starting from opening day as far as I know. And being asked to sit on the bench or stay in the minors while clearly inferior players get playing time seems like a far bigger ask to me than being asked to switch positions.

      Again, I’m happy to accept that Cabrera works his ass off and is a great, selfless teammate. But that’s totally irrelevant to who should be the MVP. And yes, Cabrera is an *awesome* player. In many other years, he’d be the MVP in a walk. But it’s not insulting to him in the least to say that, overall, Mike Trout has been better this year.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        For the umpteenth time, the award actually is given in part for attitude and effort. That’s part of the voting instructions — considering “general character, disposition, loyalty and effort” is part of the voting criteria. It is not a best player award and intangibles are a factor.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        Blah, “intangibles”. How much should you weigh the intangibles? 5%? 50%? Should Michael Young win the MVP cause he’s such a scrappy, gritty team player? Intangibles can mean whatever you want, they’re completely subjective and have little if any effect on performance, which is what this award is really about.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        It is a subjectively awarded honor. See how that works, voters get to decide for themselves on what matters most to them in making a subjective assessment of who’s most valuable. Because it’s subjective. If you don’t like it, you should write a letter to Selig asking baseball to fire the writers. Again, it is not a best player award.

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        Sorry, you’re wrong. There are written criteria which writers are supposed to follow. Here’s a link to an old post on the written criteria:

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/08/29/here-are-the-mvp-voting-criteria/

        Are there judgment calls involved in applying the criteria? Sure. But it’s not totally subjective. This is NOT like debating whether rap is better than rock, or chocolate is better than vanilla. If YOU don’t like THAT, YOU should write to the BBWAA (NOT to Selig, who has no control over the criteria), and tell them to erase the criteria and tell the voters to “vote for whoever you want, for whatever reasons you want”.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:51 PM

        Yeah, no. It isn’t completely subjective. There’s something a lot more concrete about value than that. It should be an objective opinion, with a little subjectiveness if it’s close between a couple of guys.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:03 PM

        (like 8th attempt to post this)

        Soooo, the writing Selig thing was sarcasm based on a post earlier by someone who thinks “baseball” should fire the voters. Sorry, I should’ve explained my joke there (but I assumed you’d read the post, since you commented on it like I did, and would get it).

        Also, thanks for assuming I needed a link to the voting criteria. As I had quoted it before, I clearly hadn’t read it. (sarcasm again)

        Obviously, voters look at statistics in making their assumptions but which ones and how much weight they give them is up to the individual voter. There’s no formula for that. The outcome is not tabulated — it’s voted on. If a voter thinks leadership or scrappiness matters as much or more than stolen bases or rbi’s, they can vote based on that. That’s how it goes.

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:40 PM

        Are you really saying that, because the MVP criteria do not precisely specify a set of totally unambiguous criteria that define who wins the MVP (e.g., “Rule 3x: If someone wins the Triple Crown, they shall be named the MVP”), there’s no point in debating who should win it? That if a voter decided to vote for Michael Young, or a guy who got hurt in April and hasn’t played since because of the great, inspirational attitude he’s shown during rehab, “that’s how it goes” and it’s not open to criticism? That’s a very strange attitude. It’s not one that any of the guys who vote on the award would share, no matter what their attitude towards statistics. By your argument, it’s perfectly legit and not open to any criticism if a writer were to, say, vote for someone who got hurt in April and hasn’t played since, on the grounds that he’s shown leadership and inspired his teammates by how hard he’s been working in rehab.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:48 PM

        Actually, no, because another of the stated criteria for consideration is number of games played. I think a workhorse who plays every game is more valuable to a team than someone who missed a significant part of the season.

        I think it’s very worthwhile to debate who should get it. Reducing it to stats is what I find problematic. I find it disappointing that no one wants to debate the intangibles too.

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:22 PM

        Umm, it’s nice that you want productive debate and all. But it’s pretty hard to productively debate someone who insists on taking deliberately-silly examples literally (instead of a “great guy gets hurt in April example, I could equally well have just used “great guy like Michael Young plays regularly but terribly” example). Can’t say I’m optimistic that it would be worthwhile trying to debate you (or anyone) on whether Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera has more leadership or scrappiness or hustle or whatever the hell it is you feel like appealing to.

    • baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      I think “crucified” is a bit of a strong word…the bottom line is he’s just a lousy third baseman. I mean, good for him for moving over I guess, he’s clearly a team player and probably a good guy. Doesn’t really matter, though, this award is about performance. And when you consider that Trout is a great centerfielder who turns singles and walks into doubles and triples by stealing bases at a prodigious rate, in addition to not being much worse than Cabrera offensively, I don’t even understand the argument for him.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:25 PM

        See above. It is not a best player award.

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

        Right, so use all that peripheral, “intangible” stuff to justify voting for whatever story you like better. Got it.

  4. channingtaintum - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    So Buster Posey is second in the AL in batting average? That’s quite a feat!

    I guess the old saying is true, all Cabrera’s look alike.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      That Posey is quite the interleague player.

  5. dl3mk3 - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    I’m surprised that there are still so many people who still defend the triple crowns “value” even though RBIs are about as indicative of a hitters performance as wins are of a pitchers.

    • clydeserra - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      the one thing I will say about “RsBI” runs wins and the like as far as end of the season awards go we are evaluating the season as it played out. So its less offensive to me to point at those measures for the voted on awards.

      Don’t get me wrong, its not something that I think makes Cabrera more valuable than Trout, the RsBI, but I can’t get so worked up over meaningless awards

    • baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      All this Wins and RBI’s stuff is starting to go away. Not nearly fast enough though.

  6. randygnyc - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Um, correction in aisle 3, please. Cabrera is not batting .346. How about .327

  7. number42is1 - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    The triple Crown is a league achievement as opposed to AL NL?

  8. thetruth702 - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    LOL you guys just put trouts baserunning in there like it is some good stat. Haha. Wjat a joke. Omg trout robbed a few home runs. Didnt miggy switch positions!?!?!? Give me a break. You guys have NEVER considered running and catching for mvp except this year bc a 20 yr old is doing it. Give it to who deserves it. Look at the numbers.

    • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      Um, wrong. For instance, defense and baserunning at a difficult position is one reason why Jimmy Rollins was NL MVP a few years ago.

      Unclear what you mean by saying “look at the numbers”. I’m guessing you mean hitting numbers, as opposed to say, steals, which are tracked in letters? OPS is a hitting number, a very important one because it’s a pretty good summary of two key skills: getting on base and hitting for power. Trout has a higher OPS than Cabrera.

      Or by “look at the numbers” did you mean “only look at the numbers that tend to support the conclusion I personally would prefer”?

  9. logankivo - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    LOL “Cabrera is sporting a .346 batting average. In second is Giants catcher Buster Posey at .337.”

    Why are you listing Melkys batting average in a page about Miguel. Not even the right league

  10. thetruth702 - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Oh yea.. How many players have won the triple crown? In history? Only 12. How many have robbed a hr or stole 40 bases. A lot. Lol. What a dumba$$

    • raysfan1 - Sep 30, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      Here’s a couple questions with answers for you, too:
      How many triple crowns have there been since the MVP award was instituted? 10. How many of those players won the MVP? 6. 4 did not.

      While you chew on that, consider this as well: Of all the triple crowns, assuming Cabrera pulls it off, how many did not also lead their league in WAR? Cabrera would be the first.

  11. Jeff - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Go Tigers!

    • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      Miggy!!!

  12. Carl Hancock - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    You’re so right. The Triple Crown is such an overrated accomplishment. It’s so overrated it hasn’t been done in 45 years.

    Before we know it, some mediocre player is going to bat .400 in a season! Poor guy, he’s going to be the laughing stock of the sports writers world who are all going to point and laugh at him and exclaim hitting over .400 in a season is overrated.

    Sorry, in my book the Triple Crown is still a legendary accomplishment and I hope Miguel pulls it off. I’d love to see it. Is he MVP worthy? Certainly. Is Trout? Yes. Quit trying to discount one or the other. They are both worthy of the award.

    • clydeserra - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      I agree that it is legendary, and cool. I want to see it .

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        p.s. Yes, it would be legendary to see Cabrera win the Triple Crown. And if he isn’t voted MVP, well, he’ll have good company. Ted Williams twice failed to win the MVP despite winning the Triple Crown.

    • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      But saying they’re both awesome–as everybody with half a brain agrees–doesn’t determine who wins the award. There’s only one award to be given out. Who’s trying to discount anybody? I haven’t seen anybody, on any of these threads, say “Cabrera sucks” or “Trout sucks”. Saying that one guy is even more awesome than the other does not “discount” the other guy. How is it discounting either guy to say “you were awesome this year, just not quite as awesome as that other guy”?

      Or are you saying that any time we give an award to just one guy, we’re *necessarily* discounting every other good player? Are you saying we should give an award to everybody who had a good year? (and if we did, wouldn’t that be discounting all the guys who only had pretty good years?)

  13. jwayne03 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    If he doesnt get the mvp then baseball needs to re-evaluate who the voters are. i could care less what trout has done…

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      “i could care less what trout has done”

      If you’re unwilling to even look at what other players have done because you’re too enamored with one player, you have no place in any real discussion about the award.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 30, 2012 at 2:56 PM

        I appreciate the attempt at reasonableness there, Lukehart80, but I’m not sure you should get worked up by someone who thinks “baseball” picks who writes about it.

    • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Good point. It’s amazing how everyone’s been forgetting that “guys who jwayne03 doesn’t care about can’t win the MVP” is one of the MVP voting criteria.

  14. Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    I haven’t seen anyone who supports Trout for the MVP award say that Cabrera isn’t having a great season too. The Triple Crown would be a great accomplishment, and you can’t win it without having a great season at the plate. I hope Cabrera pulls it off too, but I DON’T think it means he automatically should win the MVP award.

    They may both be worthy of the award, but only one of them is going to win it. I happen to think, as wonderful as the Cabrera has been and as cool as it would be for him to be the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, that Trout has been the better player this season, because while many Cabrera backers want to discount great base running and fielding (because others have done those things in the last 45 years), they DO factor into a player’s value.

    • witeman10 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      i truly do love this debate because it really is a toss up between the two.

      baserunning matters, defense matters…but just how much is hard to say exactly. it’s hard to measure even with WAR. the biggest problem with WAR is it doesnt factor in that not all stolen bases are created equal. there is such thing as a meaningless stolen base. stealing bases increases ur probability of scoring, but that increased probability doesnt always result in actual runs. wen talking about MVP, we have to look at actual scoring vs. probabilities…i.e. how many runs did trout actually score as a result of his good baserunning…and surprisingly, this is where the old school measurements matter. i.e. runs scored.

      again, if trout steals a base but it doesnt result in a run…he really did nothing to help his team on the scoreboard. and yet, he did increase his WAR just cuz he added another SB…

      • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2012 at 2:12 PM

        The same is basically true of a home run by Cabrera (or Trout, or whomever) when a team is already up by 5 or 6 runs, it does almost nothing to change a team’s expected outcome. Do we not count production in a loss because in the end it didn’t help the team win?

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:23 PM

        Cabrera hits a single, thereby raising his BA, which is one of the Triple Crown categories, but yet doesn’t score because the guys behind him go K, single, K, K.

        But yet, Cabrera gets credit in WAR for getting that hit, thereby giving his teammates a chance to move him around.

        And he doesn’t get credit in WAR for the base he didn’t steal, which would’ve allowed him to score on that single.

        Yes, not all hits, steals, walks, etc. result in runs, and not all home runs result in the same number of runs. And the reason they vary in the number of runs they lead to is *things totally out of an individual player’s control*. That’s why stats like WAR (and for that matter, traditional stats like BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, HR, doubles, triples, and SB) only give a player credit for the things he can control. When you’re giving an award to an individual player, it seems sensible to only give him credit for things he could control. Otherwise, you’re basically making it a team award.

  15. ezthinking - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Funny how OPS+ takes into account the pitchers from the hitter’s team. You know, the guys the hitter can’t face. Funny thing is that “advanced stats” aren’t really stats, their opinions put in numerical form.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      Funny thing is that “advanced stats” aren’t really stats, their opinions put in numerical form.

      How are they not stats?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        Also, considering BA and ERA involving removing errors, which are subjective judgments, you’ll have to come up with something other than “opinions in numerical form” as a defense.

      • ezthinking - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        Just pull a formula from one of them and look how components are “weighted.” No real reasoning, just some guy’s opinion.

      • clydeserra - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:18 PM

        HRs aren’t stats, they are data

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        Just pull a formula from one of them and look how components are “weighted.” No real reasoning, just some guy’s opinion.

        Explain how Linear Weights or ERA+/-, or OPS+/- are “just someone’s opinion”.

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      The point ezthinking must be trying to make is that Cabrera never has to face Justin Verlander!

      That’s not a stat though, it’s just an opinion.

      • ezthinking - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:04 PM

        and because Verlander pitches at Comerica, the ball park factor is positively affected and that affects Cabrera’s OPS+. What a stupid way to measure Cabrera’s performance, judging how well he hits based upon how other players hit the Tigers’ pitching.

  16. legacybroken - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Thankfully the MVP voters are still mainly the traditional stat guys who also prefer giving it to a player on a playoff team. Triple Crown + Playoffs = MVP.

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      You know the Angels have a better record and have scored more runs than the Tigers, right?

      I don’t think team performance should factor into MVP balloting, but even if it does, Trout plays for the better team.

      Using your argument is basically saying Cabrera should win the MVP because he plays in the same division as the Royals, Twins, and Indians.

  17. ap068010 - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Two great players with out a doubt …. With that being said , the MVP is Cabrera hands down.
    Trout missed a chunk of the season and is running out of gas ! One point that I wanted to make is Cabrera plays at copa and leads the league in HR’s , can you imagine if he played in texas ? Comerica is 380 in the gap !!!! Any how I think the Tigers making the playoffs will be too much for the voters to turn away Cabrera … Even if LAA has a better W-L .

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      One point that I wanted to make is Cabrera plays at copa and leads the league in HR’s , can you imagine if he played in texas ?

      Detroit is a net benefit for HR (1.014). Yes Texas would be even better, but it’s not like Anaheim which is way worse (0.748)..

      • ap068010 - Sep 30, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        I wasnt down talking Trout ,who right now isnt a HR guy YET ! I was stating 43 HR’S would prob be 50 HR’s if he was in TEX or NYY . Thats all … Trout is a great player , wish the tigers had him !

    • Glenn - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      The Angels have the best record in baseball since they called up Trout. He missed the beginning of the season because of the Angel’s manipulation of his service time, no fault of his own. Also, the Angel’s have a better record than the Tigers. See the latest Joe Posnanski article on this subject. If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, he will be the first not to also lead in WAR. That is because Trout is having a better season.

  18. mazblast - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    This is a useless thread. Cabrera supporters will cite stats that support their guy. Trout supporters will cite stats that support their guy. The supporters of the winner will crow, the supporters of the other guy will cry, “Foul!”

    • Glenn - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:47 PM

      Like politics?

  19. witeman10 - Sep 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    michael young for MVP!

  20. tonithgren - Sep 30, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Trout is so good that he led his team to the playoffs…. too bad that team was his fantasy baseball team!!

    • clydeserra - Sep 30, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      As of September 29, 2012
      California Angels 87-70
      Detroit Tigers 85-73

  21. witeman10 - Sep 30, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    i wish we could give both trout and cabrera MVPs. both having historic seasons…the two best players in the league. better than anyone from the NL. just give the NL mvp to whichever doesnt get AL mvp…

  22. cobrawolf - Sep 30, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    IMO, if Angels are not in playoffs Cabrera is the MVP if Detroit wins division

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      So Cabrera would get the MVP because his team (which has a worse record than the Angels) plays in the same division as K.C., Minnesota, and Cleveland?

  23. itsallgood8989 - Sep 30, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    MVP is Cabrera, Trout doesnt shave yet and is probably doing roids…… he doesnt qualify.

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