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The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs without Miguel Cabrera

Nov 15, 2012, 12:35 PM EDT

Miguel Cabrera Getty Images

The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs without Justin Verlander
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs without Austin Jackson
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs without Prince Fielder
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs without Max Scherzer
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs without Doug Fister
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had they played in the AL East
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had they played in the AL West
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had MLB tossed the divisions and used a balanced schedule
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had Jerry Reinsdorf spent like Mike Illitch
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had John Danks not had a lost year
The Tigers wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had the White Sox traded for Anibal Sanchez instead of Francisco Liriano

Miguel Cabrera was the biggest reason for the Tigers’ modest regular-season success.  But the simple fact that his team made the playoffs and Mike Trout‘s didn’t is a ridiculous justification for giving him the MVP award. The Yankees wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Robinson Cano. The Rangers wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Adrian Beltre. The Orioles wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Matt Wieters and Adam Jones and probably a handful of others. And I’m pretty sure Cabrera would be the first to say that several of his teammates were invaluable to the Tigers’ cause.

None of that means Cabrera shouldn’t be MVP. But the award is meant to go to the most valuable player in the league, not the best player on a team that just happened to squeak into the playoffs.

  1. Kleinz 57 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    HBT is already #1 in my eyes, but every so often a real gem comes along like this.

    Bravo, Matthew. This is a borderline work of art.

  2. Old Gator - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    The Feesh wouldn’t have finished last without Heath Bell.

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Fair assessment. Baseball fans may place a lot of importance on individual accomplishments, but it is still a team game and a team’s overall success depends on just about every player on the roster.

    There’s just no logical way you can argue for or against someone winning the MVP based on where his team finished in the standings.

    • Glenn - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      And even if you did, Trout’s Angels had a better record than Detroit, just played in a tougher division.



  4. uyf1950 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    I want to digress from the topic at hand also. I want to point out it’s been at least 12 hours since there has been a topic here mentioning who or what the Red Sox might be checking on, looking into or have on their radar.

    I’m here to mention that very shortly we should hear the Red Sox have an interest in Josh Hamilton. So it is written so HBT shall make it happen.

  5. Alex K - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Spot on, Matthew.

  6. normcash - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    If Cabrera wins tonight, it’ll be because he was the first player in two generations to win the
    Triple Crown, not because the Tigers made the post-season. This post is not a “work of art”, borderline or otherwise. It is the last gasp (I hope) of the sabermatrician crowd—at least this year regarding this award. This business of “Who you gonna believe, my equations or your own lying eyes?” is really become quite tiresome.

    • Charles Gates - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      Mike Trout won the Quadruple Fedora.

      • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        Damn straight!

    • stex52 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      Or, otherwise stated: ” Who are you going to believe, an actual analysis of the records and data, or the limited set of data that I happen to regard as definitive?”

      Why the Triple Crown?

      • normcash - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:52 PM

        Gee, maybe because HRs, BA and RBIs are….important? And while we’re at it, let’s
        not forget Cabrera won the Triple Crown as the DEFENDING AL BATTING CHAMP.
        I love Trout and look forward to enjoying him play for many years. But the truth is,
        his hitting fell off in the latter half of the seaon. I think he’s the genuine article,
        but let’s see how his second season goes….

      • scatterbrian - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        What’s amusing about the Triple Crown argument: if Hamilton or Granderson hit two more home runs, that would have somehow made Cabrera’s season less valuable.

      • stex52 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        Of course they are important. But they are not enough.

    • cur68 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Norm, we beat this one pretty much to death yesterday BUT the whole “Who you gonna believe, my equations or your own lying eyes?” paradigm falls pretty much apart if you’ve seen Miggy play a lot and you’ve seen Trout play a lot. Its not even close. Trout was way better. Way, way, way better. In September Miggy came on like gangbusters, really bolstered his case and finally showed signs of closing in on Trout’s sustained, all round game. Even with September factored in, having watched both of them a lot (thank you MLB TV), I have to say Trout wins the eyeball challenge, too. No objective person who saw both these guys play a lot could possibly feel other wise. A Miggy highlight is him looming over the plate, waiting for any pitch which isn’t an inside breaking pitch and KILLING it. A Trout highlight: any of spectacular catch, unbelievable steal, crushed homer, shoe top catch and throw out, clutch hit, or heads up base running. Often you’d get all of that in the same game. Trout CREAMED Miggy with the eyeball test.

      • kalinedrive - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        What is an unbelievable steal? Or was “unbelievable” just the most convenient adjective you could think of to keep your hyperbole streak going?

      • cur68 - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        Gonna have to do better than that, Bubba. We taking “eye test” here. In an of itself an hyperbole.

    • detroitr1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      Norm, it’s not worth arguing anymore.

      If you point to RBIs, HRs, BA–you’re forgetting that those stats don’t count or are marginal ‘counting’ stats (but when a team signs a player for a lot of money, they are done so generally based on those 3 basic stats–even after Moneyball)

      If you say that the Tigers would not have made it to the playoffs without Cabrera–the playoffs don’t count; the AL Central is bad division etc.etc. (overlooking the fact that the Tigers beat the winners of the AL West/East 😉

      If you question the WAR stat for having different standards by FanGraphs et. all or defensive metrics, then you are labeled an old-school moron by the unintentionally ironic and self-righteous ‘new’ school crowd).

      If you point to player polls or quote managers who compete against Cabrera and yet call him the MVP-you will get arguments such as ‘those players don’t understand SABER stats’ or ‘they only look at the basic stats’ and will then heavily discount the fact that players might understand things about the game the calculator crowd doesn’t–like how hard it is to actually hit opposite field homeruns as easilty as Cabrera does.

      If you still feel as though that this article’s writer needs therapy or is trolling Tiger fans for hits to the site—keep in mind that when all is said and done, no one remembers MVPs all that much…but Triple Crown winners are still remembered and revered 40+ years later.

      • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:44 PM

        No, that isn’t it. It isn’t pointing to BA, HR, and RBI…it is pointing ONLY to that horribly uncomprehensive subset. Those three things don’t come close to measuring all of the contributions players make to winning or losing games.

        What most people want is for all of the data to be considered, not some arbitrary subset. If you look at all of the data, Cabrera wasn’t even the 2nd best player in the AL last year because defense and base running count too.

      • detroitr1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        ‘BA, HRs, RBI’ are a horribly ‘uncomphrehensive subset.’

        I think you wanted to say ‘BA, HRs, RBI’ are a horribly ‘incomprehensive subset.’

        Seriously though, let us all pray that Trout wins so paperlions doesn’t suffer a seizure.

      • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:06 PM

        I don’t care who wins. We already know who the most valuable player in the AL was last year, the collective opinion of a small group of sports writers won’t change that fact….just like Cabrera winning or not shouldn’t affect your enjoyment of his achievement last year.

      • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        What I do care about, is that people learn how to use available information to make better decisions in their lives (including voting) rather than continuing to make the same mistakes based on century-old ways of evaluation that long ago were shown to be lacking.

    • scatterbrian - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      Defense and base-running are as much a part of baseball as hitting, and you don’t need sabermetrics to see the value in them.

      • grumpyoleman - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:19 PM

        So are wearing spikes, spitting chew, and yelling hey batter batter. How many points do they give for that.

  7. lyon810 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Angels finished with a better record than Detroit did, yet finished third in the west…when you have the royals and Indians to gang up on, it’s easy to finish slightly above.500 and make the playoffs

    • gigab0t - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Tigers didn’t win the division so much as the White Sox lost it. Indians and Royals weren’t much of a factor after the break.

    • juanhughjazz - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      and then the Tigers beat the AL West’s best team in the divisional round and the AL East’s best team in the ALCS.

      When the chip were down and their teams needed them the most, Cabrera rose to the top and Trout sank like a carp. That matters.

      I find it reassuring that the voters rejected WAR in the CY Young. Hopefully they’ll be consistent.

  8. illcomm - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    this article was a waste of time reading. want to hear something funny. the angles wouldn’t have made the playoffs without trout. wait, they didn’t make the playoffs.

    • A.J. - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      The Tigers wouldn’t have made the playoffs without being in the AL Central: GEOGRAPHY FOR MVP!

      • juanhughjazz - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:44 PM

        You can’t say that. Because they Tigers didn’t play in the West or the East. Based on how the Tigers fared in the ALDS and ALCS, I’d still bet on the Tigers.

    • nbjays - Nov 16, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      The Tigers didn’t WIN the ALCS, the Yankees coughed it up, gift wrapped it and handed it to them on a silver platter.

  9. hammyofdoom - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Yet the fact he was not only worth more wins than Cabrera, yet he led his team to more wins than the Tigers means absolutely nothing? Hm… ok, sure.

    • clydeserra - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Hey, Cabrera wins to the standings….

  10. thatyankeedude - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Ya I agree this is one of the best articles I have seen on here. Nicely done.

  11. dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Cabrera hit .337 after the 6th inning.

    Trout hit .260

    Where does the ability to perform under pressure weigh into your decision?

    • Charles Gates - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      Why did Cabrera hit so poorly in the early innings? Not very valuable.

      • dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM

        He did, huh? Interesting interpretation.

      • Charles Gates - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        Innings 1-3 for Cabrera 2012:
        BA .296 with a tOPS+ of 69.
        OPS 0f 833 vs total 999

        Didn’t mean to imply that he hit poorly compared to everyone, just himself. And obviously not to ‘obviously MVP’ caliber.

        But let’s continue to pick innings (and stats) to fit our arguments. This is fun. I could be a MSM writer!

  12. scatterbrian - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    The Angels would not have finished with a better record than the Tigers without Mike Trout.

  13. dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    How many of you guys have “Moneyball” tattoos? Come on, be honest!

  14. shoehole - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Well said Detroit1.

  15. pappageorgio - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Tori Hunter didn’t have his best year ever……..Mike Trout did it for him.

    Al P/Trumbo didn’t knock in any any of those runs Trout scored…….Trout did it all by himself

    April and September don’t count……because we only count times when Mike Trout played and played well.

    Total bases don’t count…..because Trout steals bases and everyone knows stolen bases count more.

    WAR (despite being a convoluted and flawed statistic that is not standarized in any way and could never be) counts more that actual standarized and objective statistics.

    RBIs, clutch hitting, and RISP should count less because Trout bats first 1 time per game.

    Fielding should count more……because Trout is a better fielder

    Mike Trout doesn’t do push-ups……he pushes the world down

    Mike Trout doesn’t call wrong numbers…..people answer the wrong phone

    Some magicians can walk on water……but Mike Trout swims through land

    Mike Trout can cut through a warm knife with butter

    • Gamera the Brave - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      Chuck Norris called, he wants his meme back…

  16. xjokerz - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    no shit?..

  17. dawgsafety13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Ben Zobrist had the highest WAR in 2011. Should he have been the MVP?

    • ptfu - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      Nope. The Zorilla was only 10th by fWAR :-)

  18. bmosh99 - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Matthew Pouliot
    We all wouldn’t have lost IQ points had we not read his article.

  19. grumpyoleman - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Tigers would have stunk without Cabrera, lucky to win 70 games. The Angels of South California in Orange County of Anahiem but near L.A. would still win 80 games. Poll the pitchers in the league and they would vote Miggie as the guy yoy would like to least face in the ninth during a tie game. All the little stats don’t figure in games where the Tigers played in 40 degree weather with snow flakes. Any of you computer nerds ever try to get up for a game and hit in that. Didn’t think so. Trout played in heaven most of the time. Also as far as the Central, you can only beat who you play. Tigers beat the best in the west during the playoffs.

  20. unlost1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    The Tigers wouldn’t have won the world series without Miguel Cabrera. Oh wait. Nevermind. They didn’t.

    • grumpyoleman - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      How’d the Angels do in the playoffs?

  21. lionsplayoffs - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Hey Matthew,

    Did any of those comparison superstars you listed in the last paragraph win the triple crown? Trout had a great year but he’s outgunned.

  22. weaselpuppy - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Odds Cabrera slumps in 2013 to the point of being sat down and/or sent to the minors? 0%

    Odds for same with Trout? >0%

    ROY come and go, right Marty Cordova? Triple Crown winners live in on forever…..

  23. datdangdrewdundunituhgin - Nov 15, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    ughh… why is this still ongoing!? who gives a flying f who wins tonight?? the triple crown is INFINITELY more important to cabrera’s career than an MVP that, might i add, the “sabrematricians” have tossed aside in years past because there are too many “old-school” voters voting on such things.

    i have NEVER seen a more butt-hurtsy group of whiners than the trout-faction when it comes to this argument. anytime they come to the table they bring an attitude of “you obv don’t know what you’re talking about so let me whip out my big calculating dick and show you. again”. and shame on you cabrera supporters for letting the HBT writers troll the living daylights out of you again and again.

    • weaselpuppy - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:10 PM

      but we like getting their adrenaline and cortisol all spiked up in their systems….makes them age….and then realize life can’t be boiled down to an equation, you actually have to live the experience to get all the perspectives….

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