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It begins: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mike Trout, round two

Aug 10, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT

Miguel Cabrera AP

Expect a lot of columns of this nature over the next few months until a winner is announced. MLB.com’s Mike Bauman, using the two home runs Miguel Cabrera hit last night and this afternoon as a springboard, writes that Cabrera is “transcending” the AL MVP debate, which is once again boiling down to Cabrera and Trout as it did last year, with all due respect to Chris Davis.

Last year’s debate cast baseball traditionalists (pro-Cabrera) against proponents of Sabermetrics (pro-Trout). The pro-Cabrera crowd used the third baseman’s Triple Crown and sizable lead in the traditional stats as the reason why he is more deserving of the AL MVP award. The pro-Trout crowd cited his gigantic lead in Wins Above Replacement, which factored in less-obvious facets of the game like base running and defense as well as offense.

Baumann writes in his column:

As great as Cabrera’s Triple Crown season of 2012 was, his numbers this year are even better. Any argument against his American League MVP candidacy this season will require both a search party and considerable imagination.

With 48 games to go, Trout has already compiled 17 WAR (per Baseball Reference) in his career, good for 16th in Angels history.  He will likely move into at least 13th place by the time the season is over. Cabrera may well be putting up historically-great numbers — and he is — but so is Trout. And let’s not forget that Trout contributes in more ways than one, by running the bases well and playing decent defense. To ignore Trout’s greatness because of Cabrera is woefully myopic (and vice versa). We have more than enough space to appreciate both — and Chris Davis, too!

So, over the next three months, we’ll again be treated to a litany of columns about how numbers are scary and math is hard and you have to watch the games with your eyeballs instead of poring over a spreadsheet, and this is why Cabrera is great and Trout is not. Controversy is king. Acknowledging the greatness of more than one player at a time is, while the right thing to do, not very controversial.

  1. andreweac - Aug 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    RBIs, to paraphrase Mickey Hatcher, are a “false stat”. I really could care less about the triple crown.

    The only reason I even care about RBIs is for fantasy baseball — not real baseball.

  2. mgronemeyer01 - Aug 11, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Oh cmon you can’t just leave out Chris Davis without any explanation whatsoever.

    I think Cabrera vs Davis is the debate we should be having.
    The Angels are going to miss the playoffs, making them 0-2 in Trout’s 2 seasons. And this year is not even close.

    There was much more of a debate last year when Detroit was barely scraping into the playoffs. Not only is Trout’s case weaker this year, Cabrera’s is actually much more warranted than it was last year. If you’re gonna give it to Trout, last year was when to do it.

    Cabrera and Davis have been carrying potential playoff teams all year long. This is the first argument I’ve even seen mentioning Trout in MVP talk.

  3. mlblogsbig3bosox - Aug 11, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Easy argument: Angels have been really bad and the Tigers are one of the best teams in the AL. I like Trout’s game a lot but their numbers are comparable and Cabrera’s team would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. So Miguel Cabrera MVP. But hey, don’t ignore “Crush” Davis.. opposite to Trout his team could make the playoffs and he could end up leading the league in HR and RBI. But yeah for now this is Miggy’s race.

  4. beefrank1776 - Aug 11, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    The biggest thing holding Cabby back from back to back MVPs is his teammate Max Scherzer. 17-1 and top 5 in Innings Pitched, Ks and ERA among starters. If he doesnt go cold and finishes 22-2 or better, its going to be hard to leave him our of the Cy Young / MVP combo talks.

  5. djpostl - Aug 11, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    And once again Trout leads in WAR. It takes neither a search party nor imagination to understand the concept the the award is for “Most Valuable Player” and not “Most Valuable Hitter” therefore EVERY aspect of the game should be accounted for.

  6. wjarvis - Aug 11, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Unfortunately for Trout MVP is not the award for the best player (at least not for a significant portion of the people voting for the award). Last year, I think Trout had a much better argument than this year, since Trout had better numbers and Cabrera’s were worse (even with the triple crown). If the orioles don’t make the playoffs then Cabrera will be MVP again, if they do Davis has a shot depending on how he plays down the stretch.

  7. xjokerz - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:48 AM

    It’s miggys trophy and quite honestly it’s a joke to compare trout to miggy. End of discussion

  8. corbetkt - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    I have no idea what this columnist is talking about when he says, “…we’ll again be treated to a litany of columns about how numbers are scary and math is hard and you have to watch the games with your eyeballs instead of poring over a spreadsheet, and this is why Cabrera is great and Trout is not.” I’d like to know where to find these columns, because as I remember it all the columns were about how RBI’s and clutch hitting were superstitious nonsense and all you needed to determine a players value was one of the infallible formulas devised by the self-taught statisticians of the Society for Advanced Baseball Research.

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