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WAR is stupid, people are stupid (Or, Trout vs. Cabrera)

Aug 17, 2013, 11:43 AM EDT

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Well, as expected, Los Angeles’ Mike Trout is beginning to open up his WAR lead on Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, not that anyone really cares or should expect it to make much of a difference in the MVP race. I’ve been saying for a couple of months now that by the time the season ends, Trout will have a higher WAR than Cabrera. I would argue it’s because while Cabrera is the best HITTER in the game, Trout is the best PLAYER in the game, But you could certainly make the argument that it’s about the WAR stat itself.

First, the numbers right now:

Baseball Reference WAR
Mike Trout: 7.2 WAR
Miguel Cabrera: 6.3 WAR

Fangraphs WAR
Mike Trout: 8.2 WAR
Miguel Cabrera: 7.5 WAR

Baseball Prospectus WARP
Mike Trout: 8.2 WARP
Miguel Cabrera: 6.7 WARP

Basically every version of WAR I’ve seen has Trout ahead at the moment, and I suspect that the gap will widen before the year ends. The reason is simply this: Cabrera has only one way to add to his WAR — by hitting baseballs. Trout has multiple ways to add to his WAR — with his hitting, his fielding, his speed, etc. If you have two stores that are selling Diet Coke exclusively, and for the same price, the store that sells more always will make more money. But if one store also sells Diet Pepsi and Coke Zero while the other doesn’t, well, obviously, what you have is a strained analogy but I’ve got this caffeine headache and really need a Diet Coke right now.

Trout just puts more stuff into the WAR bucket. You might not like how WAR adds up such things, but that’s the simple fact here. WAR, in all its forms, tends to look past the context issues and anomalies of basic statistics like batting average and counting RBIs.

Here’s a quick example: You probably know that Cabrera is hitting a rather extraordinary .358 with a .450 on-base percentage. Trout is hitting a slightly less extraordinary .330 with a .428 on-base percentage. So, Trout is great … and Cabrera is better. Seems obvious, no?

Well, sure, except for this: Trout has reached base nine times on error. Cabrera has reached zero. Now, I don’t want to go off on a rant here about errors and their statistical absurdity — but let’s just say that as far as baseball value goes, reaching on error is just as good a reaching on a hit. In both cases, you hit the ball into the field of play and you reach base. Same thing. We can argue from now until forever how it should be figured statistically, but it is inarguable that they are of equal value when it comes to the actual game.

Batting average and on-base percentage count reach-on-error as OUTS. Everything I think about this, it drives me crazy. It’s one of the dumbest statistical tricks in all of sports, maybe the dumbest, it is not unlike not giving a shooter credit for a three-point shot because he made it off the backboard or taking away not giving a receiver credit for a catch and yardage because the defender slipped and fell down. If you hit the ball and reach base it should absolutely NOT be counted as an out. It’s not an out. No out was recorded. IT IS NOT AN OUT. Sorry, I am going off on a rant here.

If you give Trout credit for the times he reached base on error, his batting average jumps to .350 and his on-base percentage jumps to .444 — suddenly very close to Cabrera.

This, I think, is one of the benefits of speed. Here’s another one: Cabrera has come up in a double-play situation 118 times and hit into 16 of them. Trout has come up in 92 double-play situations and hit into just six. So that’s 10 fewer outs for Trout. That should be figured in somehow when considering a player’s value, no? Throw it into the WAR bucket.

Home field context should be considered. Trout plays in a brutal hitter’s park. Cabrera plays in a very good one. Speed should be considered. Trout has stolen 27 of 31 bases and he leads the American League with eight triples. Cabrera has three stolen bases (though he has not been caught) and one triple. Throw it into the WAR bucket.

Trout has, by the numbers, had a tough year defensively. Last year, the numbers showed him to be a defensive superstar, but this year Baseball Reference has him with a negative defensive WAR and the Dewan Plus/Minus shows him to be minus-7 — about seven plays worse than the average center fielder . But those numbers have climbed rapidly the last few weeks and I suspect they will keep going up, Trout is simply too fast, too hard-working and too talented to be a defensive liability. I fully believe he’s had some defensive issues, but class eventually rises.

Cabrera meanwhile — he fought third base to a draw last year through sheer stubbornness, but he has always been a defensive liability and from everything I can tell he’s been pretty terrible there this season. The numbers also indicate he has been pretty terrible this season.

So we are once again in a situation where Cabrera’s superior batting average and power numbers face off against Trout’s very good batting average and power numbers, great speed and better defense. Of course, Cabrera’s team leads the American League Central while Trout’s team is dreadful and has been all season. I think we know where this is going. Trout will once again win the hearts and minds of those who like the advanced stats. Cabrera will once again win the MVP.

184 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    If WAR was the end-all be all stat, then why are all 3 publications give us different numbers? This is why it can’t be taken into consideration RIGHT NOW. Not saying in 5 years, it won’t change, but right now, it can’t be taken seriously.

    Pop quiz, if you had one guy, and I mean one guy to come up with your team down by a run, runner on 1st base, and needs a HR to take the lead, who you got? Cabrera or Trout? My answer? Miggy. It’s not even a hesitation, but in 5 years, maybe that changes, but not now.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      If WAR was the end-all be all stat, then why are all 3 publications give us different numbers?</blockquote.

      No one says it is, ever. The only ones who do are the anti-WAR people who accuse the Pro-WAR of saying it. Also the latter part of your sentence has been answered above.

      Pop quiz, if you had one guy, and I mean one guy to come up with your team down by a run, runner on 1st base, and needs a HR to take the lead, who you got? Cabrera or Trout? My answer? Miggy. It’s not even a hesitation, but in 5 years, maybe that changes, but not now.

      So what? In this one situation that’s what you’d pick. If you asked the same question about pitching the 9th inning of the WS G7, I might pick Rivera or maybe Kimbrel. But that doesn’t mean I think he’s the best pitcher in baseball.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        Let’s try that again minus the formatting fail:

        If WAR was the end-all be all stat, then why are all 3 publications give us different numbers?

        No one says it is, ever. The only ones who do are the anti-WAR people who accuse the Pro-WAR of saying it. Also the latter part of your sentence has been answered above.

        Pop quiz, if you had one guy, and I mean one guy to come up with your team down by a run, runner on 1st base, and needs a HR to take the lead, who you got? Cabrera or Trout? My answer? Miggy. It’s not even a hesitation, but in 5 years, maybe that changes, but not now.

        So what? In this one situation that’s what you’d pick. If you asked the same question about pitching the 9th inning of the WS G7, I might pick Rivera or maybe Kimbrel. But that doesn’t mean I think he’s the best pitcher in baseball.

      • Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        That’s a completely different debate there altogether. We are talking about Trout Vs Cabrera. We are talking about a young man that is making a name for himself vs an established veteran that can hit the ball anywhere at anytime. I am already sick of talking about this, because Cabrera is playing on a team that is competing for the World Series, while the Angels are fighting for a spot to draft in the top 5. THIS YEAR, it’s not even close.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:37 PM

        That’s a completely different debate there altogether.

        You’re the one who brought up the comparison. You want a specific guy to do one specific thing. Why not ask if you are starting a team from scratch, which player would you pick?

        I am already sick of talking about this, because Cabrera is playing on a team that is competing for the World Series

        Of course you, because every time you bring up an irrelevant point, we call you out on it. Or you move the goal posts (first it was which player in a specific scenario, now it’s which team is doing better).

      • Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        If WAR was the end-all be all stat, then why are all 3 publications give us different numbers?</blockquote.

        "No one says it is, ever. The only ones who do are the anti-WAR people who accuse the Pro-WAR of saying it. Also the latter part of your sentence has been answered above."

        But it is when you hear the WAR people, read this thread title, it says people are stupid. I am not an anti-WAR person, as you call them. I just don't believe in them as they end-all-be-all. There is always a human element to the game. Just because a number tells us someone will hit the ball here doesn't mean it's going to happen in this AB, you know what I mean? But then again, all of these are opinions. I just would give the award this season to Cabrera, and I stated why previously. Now you might not agree, but I won't change my opinion until they can come up with a conclusive way to incorporate WAR as a stat.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        But it is when you hear the WAR people, read this thread title, it says people are stupid.

        Name one person in this thread that said WAR is the be-all and end-all. I bet you can’t because no one says that. Show me one person that’s affiliated with BPro, fangraphs or baseball-ref who says it? You can’t again because they are often the harshest critics of (r/f)WAR(P).

        Now you might not agree, but I won’t change my opinion until they can come up with a conclusive way to incorporate WAR as a stat.

        Answer these questions:

        On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being bad and 10 being the best, how would you rate Cabrera as a hitter? How about Trout?
        On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being bad and 10 being the best, how would you rate Cabrera as a fielder? How about Trout?
        On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being bad and 10 being the best, how would you rate Cabrera as a runner? How about Trout?

        Ok got that? Now, when it comes to how you evaluate a player, should playing a premier position like SS or CF matter?

        Ok finally, do you think playing time should matter when it comes to evaluating a player? Should someone who plays 160+ games a year get a bonus vs someone who only plays 130?

    • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      There are infinite formulas for WAR. This is the beauty of its framework. Apparently your WAR revolves around a strange hypothetical that takes only one part of a player’s contributions into consideration. But this is what you value, and it is how you decided to rank player value. Do you really think this measurement is better than the formulas provided by FG/BPro/B-Ref?

      Also, to answer your question: w/o hesitation I pick Trout. The opposing manager will issue an IBB to Miggy.

      • Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        I’m not sure about that, because to me it’s about one answer. Even seeing that, Trout and Cabrera is realtively close with the WAR. But I also think you need to take into consideration where Mike hits, as opposed to where Miggy hits in the lineup, do you not? Only until recently, Trout hit 2nd, and therefore might have seen more fastball pitches than Cabrera did. Maybe I am wrong, but in theory a 2nd hitter does see more fastballs then your typical 3rd hitter. So all of these hypothetical situations have flaws, do they not?

        But as for your answer, it’s your opinion, but let me ask you this, how many closers walk the go ahead run in the 9th inning?

      • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:27 PM

        The second part of my above comment was a joke. But your hypothetical said absolutely nothing about the 9th inning. Nor did it say anything about a closer. Nor did it specify the base/out state. It was stupid hypothetical that doesn’t deserve critical thinking. It is irrelevant to this discussion. And I’m sorry for even thinking about it. It should’ve been entirely ignored.

        No, you absolutely don’t have to take into account where in the lineup a player hits. You want to compare the type of pitches each player faces? Go to brooksbaseball. This is also irrelevant to a discussion to value.

        Yes, all your hypothetical situations have tons of flaws. Is that what you wanted to hear?

    • raysfan1 - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      1) Nobody who understands statistics says WAR is be-all, end-all stat. It’s a summary stat, but Fangraphs itself states that to get a full picture of a player, you have to use multiple stats.
      http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/war/
      2) As for your pop quiz, all you are saying is Cabrera is the better hitter, which nobody has disputed. Now if you feel hitting prowess is all the MVP should be based on, the debate is over and Cabrera wins. If you feel playing solid defense and base running should count too, then there is some room for reasonable debate–ie, is Cabrera so much better with the bat that he is more valuable than Trout despite Trout’s being a better base runner and better defender?

      • trickleuppoverty - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        Cabrera is an average 3rd baseman, Trout is an average centerfielder. Cabrera has a better SB %.

      • Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        But that is always how the MVP vote is getting counted on, is it not? Defense is where Gold Gloves take place, and with that, there is no dispute. But if Pro-WAR people know it’s not the end-all-be-all then why is it when I point out a different point of view, some people on this board rips me because I don’t believe in their point of view? And this still doesn’t answer my question on why so many different answers to the WAR stat itself? My honest opinion, and I know I will be ripped for this point of view, but this season,. it shouldn’t be Cabrera Vs Trout, although Mike should be in Top 5, and maybe even 3rd. But Chris Davis is having a hell of a hell for the Orioles, and his O’s are still contending for a Wildcard, and possibly AL East. He might also have more HRs than Cabrera at the end of the season, and he’s already at what 42?

        But then again, this is just my opinion.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        CF defense is harder than 3B. There is more to base running than SB’s. Cabrera has a high SB%, but is not a base stealer and is smart enough to not try it unless very sure he will succeed.

        Not arguing that Cabrera does not deserve the MVP, just saying the debate is not baseless, BTW.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        For why there are different WARs, I’d say it is because there are no perfect answers. It again comes down to what gets valued most, and thus the components of the summary stat that gets called WAR get weighted differently. Again, don’t just use one stat.

        I agree Davis should be part of the discussion, and so should Machado.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        Cabrera is an average 3rd baseman,

        No metric has Cabrera has average, he’s well below average.

  2. lawson1974 - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    WAR is a silly , made up stat, that doesn’t measure anything concrete or provable.

    • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      What stat isn’t “made up”? On what day did G-d create batting average?

    • highlndr41 - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      I totally agree

    • highlndr41 - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      I agree

  3. Detroit Michael - Aug 17, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    FYI, Total Runs from Baseball Info Solutions shows Trout with a slight lead, but well within the margin of error for that statistic. Win Shares shows Miguel Cabrera with a slight lead, again well within the margin of error for that statistic. If we consider all of the systematic attempts to measure baseball players’ value, it is not quite true that they unanimously point to Trout as the more valuable player, like they did in 2012.

    The argument that because fWAR, bWAR and WARP all measure total value differently so therefore fans should ignore them all is idiocy but folks keep making it. There are reasonable objections to how WAR is calculated, but resorting to traditional statistics that don’t even attempt to measure total value doesn’t improve the quality of the debate in my opinion.

  4. frosted21 - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    I am not a veteran of WAR and I do not discredit or embrace it..one thing I have always wondered, doesnt WAR predict outcomes based on the ballpark the actual outcome occurs at? I understand what the purpose of that is and all, but it makes me uncomfortable [ha]. When you start predictong outcomes, where do you stop. Again I am no WAR veteran, but does it alao take into effect weather, opposing pitcher, marital status [Prince], meal consumed that day, etc. ? I am obviously being dramatic here, but my point is I feel like only outcomes that actually happened should be taken with anything more than a grain of salt. I might be way off base here and uneducated about how WAR actually is calculated. Does WAR give a player more credit for a hot late in the game, when his team is down? Like you know, clutch stuff?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      It doesn’t predict anything. It makes a comparison vs a baseline (replacement player) and totals up how much better, or worse, the player did.

      Does WAR give a player more credit for a hot late in the game, when his team is down? Like you know, clutch stuff?

      No, it’s context neutral. A player will have the same WAR from a game if he goes 1-3 with a BB and a first inning HR as a player who goes 1-3 with a BB and a walk-off HR. If you want context, look at WPA (Win Probability Added).

      • frosted21 - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        I was under the impression that WAR factors in the ballpark that an event/outcome occurs at, and adjusts for how valuable the event/outcome was, in an effort to compare production on “equal” footing – that’s not the case?

      • frosted21 - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        What stat am I thinking of?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:07 PM

        It depends on what stat you are looking for. Anything with a + sign after it, like OPS+/wRC+, factors in things like ball parks and run environment. While fWAR uses wOBA (which doesn’t factor in park/league), a park factor is included in the calculation of fWAR.

        Is that what you meant? It’s not really a prediction though in the way most stats like FIP try to predict what the pitcher would do with a similar pitching line going forward.

      • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:26 PM

        @frosted21

        Yes, WAR does take park factors into account, but only on a macro scale. It doesn’t re-imagine each hit based on the park dimensions/weather/etc. We know that Petco and Coors don’t play the same. Should a Rockies player get all the credit for playing half his games at altitude, while a Padres player gets all the blame for playing in humidity at sea-level? Park Factors help sort this out. But if you don’t trust them, don’t use them.

    • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      Do you like ERA?

      • frosted21 - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:40 PM

        No, rather than ERA, I think you’re better off looking at earned runs/inning pitched than earned runs/9 innings pitched. Why do you ask?

      • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        1. I’m not sure if you made an error or not, but 9*ER/IP and ER/IP give you the same information. The multiplier doesn’t make a difference – it’s just to make the number more relatable.

        2. Your answer shows me that accept the idea and issuance of unearned runs, and that you are fine ignoring them when judging a pitcher. But ERA is crazy. If an error occurs, the inning is imagined from that point on as if there was an out. The inning is stripped from reality and completely reconstructed. The concept of predicting outcomes that you bemoan happens in a widely accepted stat.

  5. dafern0560 - Aug 17, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Well, let’s see. Detroit tigers, first place in the American League Central, 7 games lead over Cleveland, thanks in part (a lot) to the clutch hitting of Miguel Cabrera. Angels, 15.5 games behind Texas Rangers, obviously Trout’s all around abilities aint doing much for his team. What part of most valuable is it, that people don’t understand? Do they think MVP means best player ?

    • nbjays - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:26 PM

      Here’s an exercise in thinking for you: have the players hypothetically swap teams.

      With Trout on the Tigers and Miggy gone, are they still a first place team? Absolutely!

      With Miggy on the Angels and Trout gone do they still have a terrible season this year? Yep!

      • frosted21 - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:49 PM

        So you;re saying they are exactly the same player, value wise.

      • km9000 - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:31 PM

        For the purposes of that hypothetical, they’re close enough. Even Trout defenders wouldn’t be upset if they were “stuck” with Cabrera to build a new team around.

        Switching their teams wouldn’t affect each player’s “value,” that’s the whole idea.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:57 PM

        Miggy is light years ahead of trout, that’s not a knock on trout but Miggy is the best player in the game bar none and the tigers would not be where they are without him and he is now in his prime and will be for another 4 years

      • dsmaxsucks - Aug 17, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        Or..

        With Trout on the Tigers and Alex Avila gone, are they still a first place team? Absolutely!

        With Alex Avila on the Angels and Trout gone do they still have a terrible season this year? Yep!

      • dafern0560 - Aug 18, 2013 at 7:47 AM

        Here is an exercise in thinking for you nbjays: Last night, as you were typing this comment, Cabrera hit a walk off home run in the 9th inning (which he is making an habit of hitting HRs in the 9th to tie or win the game) . Same night, in Anaheim, bottom of the 9th with the Angels-Astros game tied 5 a piece, Trout’s bright opportunity to help his team win the game, turns into a double play. These are the things that DEFINE an MVP..Baseball is Not about hypothetical thinking, Its about facts…

  6. crnvic847 - Aug 17, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    There shouldn’t be a grey area. If you get on base no matter how you do it should count towards your OBP. End of story. You’re “on-base” meaning if your OBP is .400 that means you get on base 40% of the time be it by a hit, walk, error, fielders choice, etc. If the stat trackers wanna get really technical a home run should not count towards OBP since the player is merely “trotting” around the bases and technically isn’t “on base.”

    • Ducky Medwick - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      lolz.

  7. bubbalynch - Aug 17, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    Check this out, how about FUCK WAR! Smh

  8. Carl Hancock - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Cabrera should win the MVP. Trout’s a great player, but Cabrera is the best hitter in the game right now, he’s in the prime of his career and his team is in contention. Trout is young and has plenty of time to add some MVP awards to his trophy case. And I’m sure he will. Cabrera is once again in contention for a Triple Crown and at the very least will finish #1 or #2 in all 3 Triple Crown categories. Could you imagine if he wins back to back Triple Crown’s? Cabrera is the MVP.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:07 PM

      Trout is young and has plenty of time to add some MVP awards to his trophy case. And I’m sure he will

      This is the same argument that people used last year. Cabrera is 30 years old. What if he does this for the next 4-5 years and Trout keeps putting up 10+ WAR seasons? When are you finally going to accept that maybe Trout is a better player than Cabrera? What’s the age cutoff?

      • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:27 PM

        If I’m not mistaken, this is the exact same comment Carl Hancock has used in a different thread.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

        It has, and he refuses to answer my question too.

      • dafern0560 - Aug 18, 2013 at 7:11 AM

        Dude, MVP is not about age, it’s not about WAR, is all about which player contributes the most to his team’s success. Cabrera MVP again. End of the story

      • nbjays - Aug 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

        You could make a pretty good case that the player who has contributed most to the Tigers’ success this year is Max Scherzer.

      • milfs0r0us - Aug 18, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        My boyfriend says that there are several outfielders in the AL who could replace Trout and outdefend him. Even more baserunners in the AL who could outsteal and out’smart’ him. But when it’s time to bring home the bacon, with RISP, the excuse for Trout is that his position in the batting order gives him short shrift. Really?

        Dig this here: As of Saturday, Cabrera had 14 more ABs with RISP than Trout.
        He used them well. 18 more hits. 13 more HR. 30 more RBI. 9 more walks. 2 fewer Ks.

        Trout w/RISP: .324/.441/.541
        Cabrera w/RISP: .432/.547/.880

        That’s what He says, anyway. I say “Watch the fans in the seats in any ballpark in the country when Big Mike comes to bat. Watch any manager when Cabrera comes to the plate with runners on and no place to put him.”

        If you can find it, look at video of Tito Francona after leaving Salazar in to pitch to Cabrera (with no better option in the bullpen) on the 8th of this month, right before Big Mike goes yard. Looks to me like he was trying to chew a wad of gum and a little vomit at the same time.

        This whole argument is stupid.

      • nbjays - Aug 18, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        “Dig this here: As of Saturday, Cabrera had 14 more ABs with RISP than Trout.
        He used them well. 18 more hits. 13 more HR. 30 more RBI. 9 more walks. 2 fewer Ks.”

        So let me see if I have this straight. Cabrera is so good that he got 18 more hits in his 14 AB with RISP?

        I think someone needs to go back to elementary school math class. It’ll work wonders for your credibility.

      • milfs0r0us - Aug 19, 2013 at 1:59 AM

        >>So let me see if I have this straight. Cabrera is so good that he got 18 more hits in his 14 AB with RISP?

        I think someone needs to go back to elementary school math class. It’ll work wonders for your credibility.<<

        No, FanBoy. You don't have it straight.
        Cabrera: 125 AB w/RISP, 54Hits, 17 HR, 86 RBI, 33 BB/20 K
        Trout: 111 AB w/RISP, 36 Hits, 4 HR, 56 RBI, 24 BB/22 K

        For all your wannabe-smart-guy posturing I doubt anyone here believes you could have done the math yourself.
        Quit hiding behind Sabremetrics and learn to appreciate the simple but critical importance of driving in a guy from second base.
        That's what wins ballgames.
        More important, and I'm sure you wouldn't know anything about it:
        Chicks Dig The Long Ball.

  9. andreweac - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    Trout should be MVP. Not only is he the best player in baseball, he has been one of the best players in 150 year history of the sport during his age 20 and 21 seasons.

    The MVP award should be renamed. It clearly does not recognize the best player who steps on to the field.

    • howdydoodyisalive - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      Needs to be renamed? Are you serious? What does MVP stand for? Most VALUABLE Player. It’s not the BP (Best Player) award. Most VALUABLE. Maybe google the word for a definition of valyable if you are still confused. The award does not need to be renamed.

      • howdydoodyisalive - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        *valuable…not valyable…sigh…why no edit option on posts?

      • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        Strange thing about that word – WAR measures value. Maybe you should check out that definition again.

  10. coloradogolfcoupons - Aug 17, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    If you don’t calculate ‘late and close’ hitting, when games are on the line….or BA with RISP, especially with 2 outs…you are NOT factoring in some of the most necessary information to determine MVP. A guy driving in the winning 2 runs, while his team is 1 run behind, with a 2-run HR bottom of the ninth…that AB is worth 5 times what a 2-run HR hit in the 5th inning of a 10-1 blowout. I know very little about advanced sabermetrics, but have never seen these type of situations factored in…and they should be

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      You’re looking for WPA (Win Probability Added). Here’s a primer on it:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/wpa/

      If you want even more context, you can add Leverage Index (LI) which you can find here:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/li/

      • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:28 PM

        Seems I can’t help but echo you. Sorry!

    • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      This is another great thing about sabremetrics. There are multiple context-dependent stats. For instance, on FanGraphs there is a “win probability” section on the stats page of every single player. Here you will find stats like Win Probability Added, RE24 (run expectancy according to the 24 base/out states), and clutch – statistics that are superior to the one you suggested. I think you might be pleasantly surprised if you were to learn more about these stats.

      (WAR, however, is context-neutral)

  11. Bob Loblaw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    I just wish people would STOP using WAR to compare people who play two different positions. It is stupid. Use all the stats you want to use, but please stop using WAR. Just the words that make up WAR should tell you that it should not be used to compare people of different positions. WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT. Would Cabrera ever “replace” Trout? Would trout ever “replace” Trout?

    I’m not the biggest fan of sabremetrics, but they have their place. When people use WAR to make comparisons, I always argue that people use WAR as the be-all end-all and am told “No it isn’t”. Then I see articles like this, where Joe wants to call me stupid because I do not like WAR.

    If I were a GM, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE the WAR stat. It would help me compare players of the SAME POSITION when I wanted to replace a guy. For instance, if my 3B signs somewhere else in FA, I would want the top 10 3B available by WAR. because I would want the one with the best WAR. Because that would be a good comparison.

    However, if I needed a 3B, I am not going to look for the top 10 overall players by WAR. So why would I compare a 3B and a CF WAR? Well, I wouldn’t because THAT is what is stupid, Joe.

    • eightyraw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      That’s not what “replacement” refers to …

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        Yes it is.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:47 PM

        No, it’s not. It stands for what a player would do over a AAAA player, or someone below league average.

        When people use WAR to make comparisons, I always argue that people use WAR as the be-all end-all and am told “No it isn’t”. Then I see articles like this, where Joe wants to call me stupid because I do not like WAR.

        You need to learn to read, because the former is never stated, and the later is not even closer to be inferred.

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:05 PM

        church, don’t play semantics with me.

        If player a is a 3B and he has a 5 WAR and player b is a 3B and he has a 3 WAR, then player a is 2 “wins above replacement” more than player b. Just because the 5 technically means “what player a would do over a AAAA player” while the 3 technically means “what player b would do over a AAAA player” does NOT mean you can’t compare player a and player b as 3B.

        You’re a smart guy, church. You don’t have to play semantics with me. Unless, like Joe, you are calling me stupid. Is that what you are doing?

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:08 PM

        AND you left out “at the same position”. It isn’t a general “AAAA” player. It is a “AAAA” player AT THE SAME POSITION. Which is a HUGE difference.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:42 PM

        AND you left out “at the same position”. It isn’t a general “AAAA” player. It is a “AAAA” player AT THE SAME POSITION. Which is a HUGE difference.

        Except it isn’t. Positional Adjustment is taken into account, but not in the way you are arguing. there is no calculation based on what a hitter at the hypothetical position hits.

        It’s hitting + base running + [defense + position (to give a player credit/demerit on the defensive scale) + time played]. If SS are hitting like shit, which they been lately, you don’t get any credit other than the fact you are a SS.

        Here’s the WAR primer on fangraphs:
        http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/war/

        Here’s the article on positional adjustment. There’s no mention on whether it’s easier to replace a SS vs a 1b:
        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/explaining-win-values-part-three/

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 17, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        Well, from the fangraphs article you linked to, I see the following quote…

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

        Now, last time I checked, you don’t replace a CF with a 3B. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but it appears to be exactly what I was saying. WAR is a great stat for replacing a player because it will help you to determine what value the team will be losing.

      • nbjays - Aug 18, 2013 at 8:59 AM

        Exactly, Bob.

        In The simplest terms possible, Mike Trout is more valuable (harder to replace) at his position (CF) than Miguel Cabrera is at his position (3B). It is used to measure each player’s RELATIVE value, and includes defense, which is why Miggy will always lag behind Trout.

  12. raysfan1 - Aug 17, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Geez, folks, Poz is not calling anybody stupid. The article title is tongue in cheek. The article itself was also not meant to insult anyone.

  13. xjokerz - Aug 18, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    Will you stop posting fucking war as a legit argument about who’s the better player ? You NBC trout slappys are horribly annoying

  14. steelersgirl9999 - Aug 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    While i embrace sabermetrics i find WAR to be the silliest of any statistic used. Example, over the last 3 years, Alex Rios has the 5th best WAR of any, yes ANY, right fielder in ALL of baseball. Let that sink in, Alex Rios, the 5th best right fielder in baseball.

    • jeromepc01 - Aug 18, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      And only Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols have had a better decade than Ben Zobrus (according to WAR).

  15. jeromepc01 - Aug 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Any article that references WAR should explain why Ben Zobrus is one of the top-3 players in baseball over the past 5 years (as WAR indicates), even though zero MLB GMs would concur with such a thing. If you’re not going to explain why Ben Zobrus is one of the best players in baseball, then stop referencing the stupid, made-up stat.

  16. jeromepc01 - Aug 18, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    You state in your article that Comerica Park is hitter-friendly and expect people to take the rest of your article seriously?

    • delairiah211 - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      I stopped taking this author and article seriously when i read that as well.. Angels stadium dimensions: 330-400-330… Comerica park dimensions: 345-420-330… Comerica is a PITCHERS ballpark, everybody knows it (except this guy). Cabrera is hitting for power in the deepest center field in baseball. If he played his home games in Camden Yards (a la Chris Davis) he would have at least 10 more home runs.

      • cohnjusack - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        Then why, pray tell are the following things true:

        Tigers hitters score more runs at home than away
        Tigers pitchers give up more runs at home than away
        Opposing hitters hit Tigers score more runs at Comerica than home
        Opposing pitchers give up more runs at Comerica than home.

        If all of these are true, which they are, then that ballpark favors hitters. A lot more goes into park factors than dimensions. Foul territory, hitting backgrounds, environment(Colorado/Arizona).

  17. ndrick731 - Aug 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Wow. Your arbitrary made up stat says trout should win. Well baseball is about scoring runs. MC 87 runs T 88. RBI MC117 T 78. Not even close. And neither should the MVP voting be. I also notice you didn’t mention strikeouts. T 95 C 75. Nuff said

  18. brandonmauk - Aug 18, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Cabrera has the MVP on a lock, again, on he virtue of being on a first place club. Again. Trout is on a club on the outside (even worse than last year) of the playoff hunt. Again.

  19. sfm073 - Aug 18, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    You’re confusing best play with most valuable player. I realize RBI’s rely a lot on other players around you, but the award isn’t about what you could have done, it’s about what you did.

  20. aiede - Aug 18, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    The thing that makes me distrust WAR is the way it artificially tries to weight all of the components of a player’s game to come up with one “overall” number. Specifically, I think it overvalues baserunning and defense and relies on some pretty weak stats to do so.

    For instance, fWAR includes wSB (weighted stolen bases) UBR (Ultimate Base Running, think of it as the “can he go first to third on a single?”) stat and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), a defensive rating stat that suffers badly from small sample sizes. (Aren’t we always told not to look at UZR under UZR/150? Well, why would we trust somebody’s midseason WAR that’s dependent on that half-season UZR number?)

    The biggest problem in my eyes is that in the great scheme of things, steals, baserunning and defense are three things that don’t end up mattering anywhere near as much as hitting to the outcome of a game. You could be flat-out horrific at any or all of those ancillary skills but, if you hit well, a valuable contributor to your team. That’s why Delmon Young keeps getting work. If you’re good at all of those things except for hitting, you’re Jeff Francoeur at best.

    I love watching Mike Trout. I think he’s an amazing talent and I look forward to seeing what he does. But Miguel Cabrera is more valuable because he is, without question, the most dangerous hitter in the league and the value that brings to his team outweighs his lack of speed on the bases and his lack of range at third.

  21. jdillydawg - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    I said, WAR, huh
    Good God, y’all
    What is it good for
    Absolutely nothing

    Say it again

    – Edwin Starr

  22. mpzz - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    First of all, “wins against replacement” is an impossible thing to quantify or staticize. (I don’t care if “staticize” is a word or not; if you can make up “WAR”, I can make up “staticize”) Does it take into account that Cabrera moved from the easier to field first base to third to make room for Prince Fielder and help the team? Does it take into account that perhaps no fielder has muffed a Cabrera grounder in a way that would have enabled him to get to first on an error? WAR has no meaning in the real world.

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