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When the “best” player who “unquestionably provides the most value to his team” is not the MVP

Oct 1, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Mike Trout Getty Images

I take it back. Heyman’s MVP column was not all that convoluted after all. That’s because I just read Buster Olney’s and I can’t recall anything as confounding. And that’s with 98% of it being excellent.

It’s behind a paywall so you may not be able to read it. But I will do it justice in summary. Really — I am not adding my own gloss here. This is a faithful summary of Olney’s reasoning:

    • Doing something because “that’s the way it’s always been done” is stupid;
    • Voting for MVP award winners based on them being on a winning team is the way it’s always been done and that’s stupid. Writers do it, though, because they are slaves to this precedent which started in the 1930s.
    • It shouldn’t be this way. The MVP should go to the best player regardless of how his team finishes in the standings.
    • “I also think [Mike] Trout is the best player in baseball, and he unquestionably provides the most value to his team of any player in the sport.”
    • He then says that if he had a vote he’d vote for Miguel Cabrera because “the MVP voting is chained to the past, for now: That’s the way we’ve always done it.  Because the criteria hasn’t changed — and until it does, the precedent should continue to carry interpretative weight.”

I repeat: all of that precedent is stupid. It should no longer stand. But it binds me, Buster Olney, to say Miguel Cabrera is the MVP despite the fact that I think Mike Trout is “the best player in baseball, and he unquestionably provides the most value.”

I’m sorry. We’re through the looking glass here.

I tweeted the upshot of this post a few minutes ago. Here was Buster’s response to me:

I guess I can get why he might consider my criticism of his stunning incoherence here to be a personal attack (though he’s the one calling people names). However, I personally see it as an instance in which one of the most influential opinion makers in all of baseball is making a strong argument that he himself is afraid to follow.

Question: If Buster can’t listen to his own reason and conscience with respect to this matter, why should anyone else?

  1. gdobs227 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Just give both MVP awards to McCutchen.

    • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      Under Craig’s logic, it should be Paul Goldschmidt not McCutchen for NL MVP. Hey he said winning doesn’t matter, right? You can’t have it both ways.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        Winning doesn’t matter. The best player should get it. McCutchen would be a better player than Goldschmidt no matter that the records of their teams were.

      • baseballici0us - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        You’re crazy, Craig. Goldschmidt is undoubtedly better than McCutchen – at least this year.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        Funny because we must not be watching the same season. Craig’s statement is only correct if he’s talking about 2012.

  2. baseballici0us - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Most Valuable PLAYER – it’s an individual award that should go to the most valuable player in BASEBALL not a team. The player that makes you tune in until his at-bat is done or until his team has recorded 3 outs; because you want to see if he makes another spectacular catch.

    It is a complete, 5-tool player that can also play defense (hint: that’s not Miguel Cabrera).

    • American of African Descent - Oct 1, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      Most VALUABLE player.

      Fixed that for you.

      How valuable are you if you’re on a losing team?

      • km9000 - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

        So is a mediocre player on an elite team more deserving of an MVP than an elite player on a mediocre team?

        If you think Trout isn’t a valid MVP choice because of his team’s performance, then by that logic, he shouldn’t be anywhere else on the ballot.

      • crackersnap - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:39 AM

        Valuable enough to prevent your losing team from being even MORE of a losing team. Kind of like the difference between having the lousy team around you eliminated and your season over in August, versus being able to carry those louts and manage to stave off that elimination (for you, your franchise, and your fans) until September.

        There is VALUE in being the largest number on the page, even if all the other numbers in your particular equation are disappointingly small.

      • baseballici0us - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:50 AM

        MOST valuable player

        there, for shits and giggles :-)

    • dtownmytown - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      And that is where you are incorrect. No one goes to a game or tunes into one on TV to see Trout make a catch or steal a base. They do tune into a game or attend one in person to see Miggy knock one out of the park. Considering the Tigers had a higher attendance at home the the Angels did, and out drew them on the road as well, I think more people paid to see Cabrera play then paid to see Trout and the fans know who the MVP is. Cabrera gets pitched around plenty or walked intentionally still, despite Fielder hitting behind him, because of what he can do with a bat. Pitchers have no problem pitching to Trout because they do not fear he will hit one out 500 feet off of them

      • matthiasstephan - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        Are you kidding? The Angels fans, especially at the end of the season, came almost only for Trout. Who else was a draw? Pujols on the bench? Hamilton of the .200 BA? Shuck? Cowgill? Romine?

        Besides, Trout was pitched around a lot during the year. Notice who leads the league in walks? He was also intentionally walked several times in just the last few weeks (when it didn’t matter, right?). Why pitch around him if he was only a threat to steal?

      • 1981titan - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        With nothing else to do in Detroit but watch the weeds grow on the vacant lots you must have missed some of the catches, triples or other great plays made by Mike Trout. I’m sure alot of people in Detroit went to the ballpark to watch Miggy do his Roger Dorn impression at third base or hit one off the wall for a Single. Miggy’s a great player, but Trout is a better all around player.

    • wardhobby - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      My two cents. I believe we should create another baseball award. Call it the Babe Ruth Award. This will be for the Best Position Player in baseball.

      The MVP will get back to the player who made the most contribution to his team and without whom that team would not have finished like it did.

      The Cy Young was created so that the pitchers would always have a post-season award.

      This will allow a pitcher like Newhouser to win the MVP and not take away from a great season for a position player. A player like Trout can win the MVP and Cabrera can win the Babe Ruth award.

      I would even give you that a player can win two of the awards in the same year.

      The NL did give Andre Dawson the MVP for his awesome season for the Cubs.

      • davidpom50 - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        They tried… The Hank Aaron award is given to the best offensive player in each league.

  3. jshoelessj - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    I’m baffled why he thinks the BWWAA needs to change their guidelines even though the guidelines make no mention that you must vote for a player who is on a team that makes the playoffs. It’s not the fault of the guidelines that the voters are slaves to precedent/tradition and by blaming the lack of guidelines he’s trying to absolve the voters from not thinking rationally.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      Given that voters have made up their own rules forever (see: the two voters who refused to vote for Pedro because they believe — contrary to the rules — that a pitcher should not be eligible), I don’t see how any voter is bound by precedent. Buster Olney’s hands are not tied, so I don’t understand why he needs to pretend they are.

      And, listen, I hate Ted Cruz as much as anyone on this page, but I fail to see how Craig or Buster is behaving like [name a politician you don't like in either party]. Can someone explain THAT to me?

    • moogro - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      Olney: “I’m a coward. I need the guidelines changed in order to protect me from harmful criticism.”

      Craig: “Wow. You’re being a coward.”

      Olney: “How dare you call me a coward. You’re a towel!”

  4. jc4455 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Has Buster Olney gotten considerably crazier in the last couple years? I only recently have been exposed to his podcast after he took over the Karabell-Law podcast. He seems to be one of the more remarkable fences riders on all the usual issues that divide the baseball commentariat.

    I guess this is how one appeals to the widest possible audience, but it does seem kind of weasel-y and intellectually dishonest.

    • jarathen - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      I really liked the Karabell/Law/Simon podcast.

      I listened to the Olney one a few times and moved on with my life.

  5. pieman1121 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    So, Craig, I am not following. If Olney makes the first four bullets points, how does he possibly get Cabrera for MVP. What insane logic!

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      I don’t know either.

      • lawson1974 - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        Because , internally, subconsciously, he realizes its Cabrera in a walk.

      • nbjays - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:45 PM

        Then it should definitely be Trout… he had 110 walks to Cabrera’s 90.

        You’re welcome.

      • grumpyoleman - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:27 AM

        Miggy isn’t paid to walk.

  6. kylekaestner - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Why does he fail to mention times when voters went against this precedent and voted for a player not in the playoffs? Ryan Howard 2006, ARod 2005, Bonds 2004 just to name some recent examples.

    • rbj1 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      Not to mention Andre Dawson in 1987

    • Jeremy T - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      I’m assuming that should be ARod 2003? He was with the Yankees in 2005.

    • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      All 3 examples are out of the world sluggers. When Hanley batted .330 30 homers 50 steals at SS, a much more defensive challenging position than Trout playing corner outfield, he finished #8 in the NL MVP voting.

  7. chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    The letter that goes out to the writers says “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.” http://bbwaa.com/voting-faq/#sthash.wgTck5B4.dpuf

    While it spells out that a team record should not prohibit a player from being eligible for the award it doesn’t say at all that team records can’t or shouldn’t factor into the decision making process.

    That’s a very important distinction I think because a writer can look at Mike Trout and say “I don’t care what the team did, he’s the MVP” while another one can turn around and say “Without Trout the Angels are still not making the playoffs but if you take Cabrera off Detroit there’s a chance they don’t make the playoffs so he’s more valuable” and both of them are 100% right in their assessment.

    At the end of the day they are two fantastic ball players and we shouldn’t let some silly award debate get in the way of enjoying both of their performances.

    • nbjays - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      As has been stated elsewhere, Detroit won their division by one game, and were 3 games from being out of the postseason altogether. There are at least half a dozen players on that team that were each worth at least 3 wins this season (Scherzer, Jackson, Fielder, Cabrera, Hunter, Peralta, Verlander, Fister, Sanchez).

      What makes Miguel Cabrera the reason they are in the postseason and the MVP?

      • chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        It doesn’t make him the reason that they’re in the post season, but if you take him off the team there is a question about whether they get there or not. With Trout, he could have missed the entire season and it wouldn’t have impacted whether the team made the playoffs or not.

        Again, I’m not saying that Trout doesn’t deserve the MVP. All I am saying is that a writer who wants to consider a team’s record isn’t wrong or in violation of the letter or spirit of the voting rules to do so.

      • nbjays - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        But if you take any one of the other Detroit Tiger players I mentioned off the team for the season, there is the same question whether they get there or not. My point is that Miggy was not the only reason the Tigers won the division.

      • bigbuffguy95 - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:25 PM

        Frankly, this is a straw man that is not worth taking seriously. If a voter decides that he or she wants their MVP to come from a playoff (or at the very least, a winning) team, it makes perfect sense to try to pick the best player in that particular pool. Sorry, but I can’t take any argument that features the words “winning doesn’t matter” (which I see Calcaterra comically claimed in an above comment) seriously. Ultimately, baseball is a team game, and the award is not Most Outstanding Player.

        If someone wants to vote for the “best” player, regardless of how terrible his team is, fine. But don’t denigrate others who disagree with that line of thinking, especially when the voting instructions specifically say that it is up to each individual voter to decide who was the most valuable player *to his team.* Whatever value Trout provided was largely wasted because he was on a losing team. So instead of being mediocre, they would be bad. Congratulations. And I’m not saying it’s his fault, but it is what it is. Take it up with Angels management. Again, if a voter decides that he doesn’t care about this, that’s perfectly acceptable. But so is deciding that he does care. If it really should go to the best player on paper, the voting instructions should be amended to reflect that. Until then, it’s perfectly acceptable to consider other factors, up to and including team success.

      • km9000 - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:49 PM

        Of course wins matter, but this is am individual award, and a single player can’t win games by himself. It’s the same reason pitcher records are of little value.

        If a guy goes 4-for-4 every night, or pitches 7 or 8 shutout innings every 5th day, the team doesn’t win unless others do their part too. It boils down to who does the most to HELP their team win, whether they actually win or not.

      • matthiasstephan - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:38 AM

        If it has to be a Tiger (obviously the only team in the playoffs in the AL), what about Scherzer? Where is the flaw in his game? Why isn’t he in the discussion?

  8. kopy - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    If a billionaire has a Shelby GT 500 that is rarely used for joyrides, and a struggling middle class member drives a modest mid-size to work daily, the Shelby is still more valuable even though the mid-size is used to accomplish more.

    • chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      That’s not an apt comparison because now you’re talking about price factoring in..ie the Shelby is more valuable than the midsize because it costs more because it is more exclusive.

      • sportsdrenched - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        But I see him working. Part of my job is to look for VALUE in the commodities I purchase. I’ve been pretty much a fence rider on this Trout/Cabrera thing since it was a thing. (The individual awards just don’t interest me) But kopy’s post made me look at it from my jobs perspective. Which I’m not saying that’s the perspective the writers should use.

        But, Trout is making the rookie peanuts, Cabrera has a $152 Million Contract for essentially the same production. Trout has more value to a team.

      • chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        I’m with you in that I don’t think much about individual awards – the one I care about most is World Series MVP because that goes to a player on the winning team.

        Having said that, I don’t think that the intention of MVP vote was to put player salaries into the mix. Yes, from a financial standpoint, Trout is more valuable to his team than Cabrera is to his because Trout makes rookie money so he provides the same production for less money thus increasing his value. My guess though is that the spirit of the award is to leave salary out of it.

      • indaburg - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        Another reason this comparison isn’t applicable is that it also is dependent on how value is defined, which is part of the issue the writers are having with the MVP award.

        I could argue that in Kopy’s example, the mid-sized vehicle is more valuable. Not in extrinsic value–unquestionably, the Shelby is worth much, much more monetarily. However, since the mid-sized car in that scenario is being used to maintain someone’s livelihood, it is more valuable. Take that Shelby from the billionaire, he loses a toy. Take that car from the man dependent on it for work, he and his family sink into poverty. The mid-sized car has more relative value.

        (That said, I think the MVP award needs to be renamed. Or there needs to be another award. Miggy is awesome, but Trout is the better player. I think the word “valuable” is tripping people up.)

  9. mlevy128 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Putting aside Buster’s argument for a second here, the logic doesn’t make any sense either. Why is Trout #2? He’s clearly not the 2nd best player in the league. Are we only applying the team performance aspect to the #1 vote? Either Trout should be at the top of the list, or if we’re pretending what he offers brings no value to a lousy team, then he should be nowhere near it. Buster seems to be trying to have it both ways.

    • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      I would pick Chris Davis over Trout. Trout is overhyped. When Hanley had a .330 30 homers 50 steals season. He didn’t even finish in the top 5. And Hanley plays shortstop. Trout is just a corner outfielder.

      • cohnjusack - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        When Hanley had a .330 30 homers 50 steals season. He didn’t even finish in the top 5. And Hanley plays shortstop

        Are you being willfully obtuse?

        Mike Trout’s competition is Cabrera and Chris Davis. Ramirez’s was Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, David Wright, Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder etc in 2007.

        Here is where each of them ranked and various offensive categories

        Batting Average: Trout (3rd) Ramirez (5th)
        OBP: Trout (2nd) Ramirez (not in top 10)
        Slugging: Trout (4th) Ramirez (9th)
        OPS: Trout (3rd) Ramirez (not in top 10)

        See? Offense was, obviously, much more plentiful in 2007.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:37 PM

        @cohnjusack: Offense is much more plentiful in 2007 than 2013, which makes Cabrera and Chris Davis’ monster seasons that much more special. Yeah in your zeal to defend your man crush on Trout, you just contradicted your own argument.

      • clydeserra - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        so we are all clear, we agree that in fWAR or bWAR, Cabrera is 3rd* in the AL right? So if we are talking about WAR, the choice is trout and Donaldson, who’s team also made the playoffs I am pretty sure.

        *yes its a negligible difference,

  10. oztotten008 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    “I guess I can get why he might consider my criticism of his stunning incoherence here to be a personal attack (though he’s the one calling people names).”

    You did Subtweet him, Craig. It’s debatable who was in the wrong first here.

  11. chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    By the way – one of the silliest things to come out of the “Twitter age” are knucklehead reporters arguing like grade schoolers over mean twitter comments.

  12. jlovenotjlo - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Wow, I never get worked up about this stuff, but I almost lost my lunch reading your summary and Olney’s tweet. So incredibly stupid and illogical that I cannot even find the right words to describe what he’s written.

    Thank you, Craig, for reminding me why I read your material.

  13. frank35sox - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Mike Trout also has a negative dWAR-just putting that out there for all of you “Trout is a superior defender” spewers.

    • nategearhart - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      His defense is superior to Miguel Cabrera’s. Hence, in the case of Trout vs. Cabrera, he is the (and therefore, “a”) superior defender.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Defensive metrics is bullshit. Defense itself is overrated. Best defense is dominant pitching.

      • nategearhart - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        Naw, dominant pitching is overrated, too. Just mash a buncha taters and you got nothing to worry about.
        /sarcasm

      • frank35sox - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:19 PM

        What, .6 better? Good joke.

      • nategearhart - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:54 PM

        His dWAR is higher. Hence, better. Ergo, superior. Which is what you said he’s not. Not “way” superior. Not “tons” superior. Just superior. Quit moving the goalposts.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:38 PM

        *sarcasm* dominant pitching is overrated. It’s all fielding that’s preventing the runs LOL. Never mind that most defensive plays are of the routine variety

  14. paperlions - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Olney always takes criticism personally, which may be why the poster above refers to him as a “fence rider”. I haven’t read his stuff in a long time because he mostly just links to articles I see mentioned elsewhere and before and any of his attempts at analysis or baseball understanding are horribly done

    About 5 or 6 years ago, I commented below one of his daily posts and step-by-step dismantled his horribly constructed argument. Then next day, the basis for his entire column was my comment as he went on a juvenile diatribe about it (and continued to be even more wrong while doing so)….the comments to that one were pretty brutal toward him for being both wrong and unprofessional.

    Olney is a perfect example of a reporter who knows a lot of people in baseball, but that isn’t particularly bright or insightful about the league, game, or sport he covers….and he’s pretty defenseless in an argument, thus, the name calling.

  15. straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Defense is severely overrated by new-aged metrics like WAR. And defensive metrics like UZR fluctuates heavily from year-to-year (such as UZR saying Alfonso Soriano deserved Gold Glove last year and Granderson is a horrible fielder LOL). Sabermetrics has discredited stolen base and baserunning as irrelevant. The bottom line is a lineup of sluggers with shoddy defense combined with excellent pitching would still win games. A lineup of run-prevention Gold Glovers (such as the failed Mariners experiment a few years ago) who can’t hit a lick would still finish at the bottom of the standing. Miguel Cabrera for MVP. Heck I would pick Chris Davis before Trout.

    • yahmule - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      Wait a minute. Are you suggesting Jim Bavasi had an actual plan to field a team of poor hitters?

      I’m not saying that because such a plan would be terrible, but the suggestion that Bavasi actually planned anything as a GM.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:42 PM

        Bavasi was singing the run prevention tunes a few years ago. He was trotting out Brendan Ryan, Franklin Gutierrez, Ryan Langerhans, Rob Johnson, Casey Kotchman as everyday regulars because of their excellent defense, which was just cringeworthy.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:42 PM

        Correction: Not Bavasi. It was Jack Z

      • yahmule - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:29 PM

        I saw Bavasi bring in 32 year old Jose Vidro as his cleanup hitter.

    • paperlions - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Well then…performance that fluctuates year to year should be ignored? Now that certainly simplifies things, since, you know batting average, HRs, RBI, OBP, SLG, hits, 2B, 3B, BB, Ks, ERA, and pretty much everything associated with hitting or pitching can fluctuate greatly from year to year.

      First, UZR need not fluctuate yearly, and does not for many players, only for some…just like all other baseball statistics.

      Second, the fact that you are okay with offensive or pitching metrics that exhibit gross annual variation but use that as a basis for rejection of defensive metrics indicates that you don’t understand the metrics you are comfortable with anymore than those that you are not.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:46 PM

        It’s generally accepted that offensive production is easier to predict and measure than defensive performance. A guy who has an out of the world fluke year offensively will usually regress to the mean based on his career norm. With defense, the variance is not only great from season to season (and non-linear), but that there is no uniformed metric. Some guys have a lot of range but make tons of errors on botched routine plays. Some guys are statutes in the field but make all the routine plays. Defensive metric doesn’t take that into account. As far as defense, it’s more in the eyes of the beholder. I would rather trust the scouts’ eyes than using math to quantify defensive performance.

      • paperlions - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:54 PM

        You are wrong. Advanced metrics take all of those things into account. Indeed, they are based on the only approach that does effectively take range into account rather than just errors. Defense is most certainly not in the eye of the beholder….that like watching guys hit and deciding who is best without ever referring to a metric of hitting.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      Alright, one at a time.

      1. “Defense is severely overrated by new-aged metrics like WAR”
      –Here is the part where you’re supposed to point out HOW defensive is overvalued. You choose not to and just end with this statement. Well argued.

      2. “And defensive metrics like UZR fluctuates heavily from year-to-year (such as UZR saying Alfonso Soriano deserved Gold Glove last year and Granderson is a horrible fielder LOL).”
      –Granderson IS a bad center fielder for one. Secondly, even the most ardent defenders of UZR freely admit that year-to-year results can heavily fluctuate. Thirdly, UZR rated Soriano as “above average”, not anywhere near gold glove caliber.

      3. “Sabermetrics has discredited stolen base and baserunning as irrelevant.”
      –Yeah, this never happend. The did kindly point out that a guy with 40 steals and 20 times caught stealing would have been better off not running at all, but they point plenty of value in stealing a base and not getting caught.

      4. “The bottom line is a lineup of sluggers with shoddy defense combined with excellent pitching would still win games.”
      –And teams with slugger with excellent defense and mediocre pitching wins games. And teams with greating pitching and great defense but mediocre offense wins games. You now what’s fun about baseball? The 1982 World Series. Two teams structured 100% opposite ways going 7 games in the WS. There is more than 1 way to build a team, as long as the sum of their parts adds to the overall value.

      5. “A lineup of run-prevention Gold Glovers (such as the failed Mariners experiment a few years ago) who can’t hit a lick would still finish at the bottom of the standing.”
      –True. Just like a team of sluggers…like say the 2005 Reds who lead the NL in runs scored with abysmal pitching can finish at the bottom. Or vice versa (85 Royals). Again, many wonderful options here. Also, no one is saying that fielding is as equal to hitting and pitching. But it does matter greatly.

      6. “Heck I would pick Chris Davis before Trout.”
      –Trout got on base far more often (.370 to .432). That…enormous. Davis was far more likely to make an out. Also, Trout played pretty far over on the defensive spectrum C-SS-2B-CF-3B-RF-LF-1B.

      • straightouttavtown - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        1. Because defense zealots based their argument that pitchers, strikeouts notwithstanding, have no control of the outcome once the batter make contact with the ball. That’s a logical fallacy unsupported from decades of evidence and statistics that suggests that bad pitchers are still bad pitchers even with a Gold-Glove calibered defensive behind them.

        2. If I remember correctly, Soriano had the highest UZR out of all leftfielders last season and didn’t make his first era until very late in the season.

        3. If you ever read Moneyball, you would know that stealing bases is discouraged. To take advantage of the market inefficiency, Billy Beane went after guys with horrible baserunning skills in the mold of Scott Hatteberg and Jack Cust. The goold old out of control running ’80s with Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson is long gone.

        4 and 5. I do agree with you on that and there are also some park factors that could factor into how to build a winning team.

        6. Yet Davis beat Trout is OPS. Just because you’re constantly on base doesn’t mean you’re gonna drive in runs. Too often guys end up on base without being driven in. Davis may not have the best plate discipline, but he slugged out homers and XBH with high regularities, hence the significantly higher slugging percentage enabling him to more than make up for and overtake Trout in OPS. He carried the offense on his back. Not everyone is the perfect hitter like Barry Bonds or the old Albert Pujols. It’s the same reason Andre Dawson, a free swinger, is considered a better hitter than guys like Brian Giles and why Daric Barton can’t stick in the league.

  16. simalex - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Disappointed that Robinson Cano isn’t getting MUCH more serious consideration for MVP, and i say this is a die-hard yanks hater.

    • nbjays - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      He would if he ran out ground balls like he cared…

      /s

      • simalex - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        LOL, yep.

    • chip56 - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      It’s true – Cano carried a Yankee team that more often than not fielded a lineup that looked like what you bring on a Spring Training road trip.

  17. lawson1974 - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    You can’t have value, if your product has no value.

    If your team could be just as garbage without you, that should be a factor in the decision.

    Not the only factor , but definitely a factor.

    Cabrera’s team won and he dominated again at the plate. The only thing Trout beats him on is triples and SB’s. Great, he’s fast…. and Gold gloves are for defense.

    Cabrera is a no doubt MVP.

    • nbjays - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      So you are saying that without Cabrera, the Tigers are not a good team?

  18. braddavery - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    These discussions are so bizarre. Maybe MLB should change the award to the BOP (Best Overall Player) Award since so many seem to believe that is what it already is. Maybe Mike Trout can then win it 15 years in a row so you can all see how tremendously flawed it would be that way.

  19. suhisbetterthanu - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Cabrera, end of discussion

  20. grumpyoleman - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    They lost their ss for 50 games and still made it

  21. raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    I don’t follow Olney’s insistence that he is somehow constrained by antiquated guidelines. I posted those guidelines earlier in the Posnanski article, or they can be found in the FAQ section of the BBWAA web site. The voters get these guidelines every year with their ballot. The letter very clearly states the voter can define value any way he wants and that the voter does not have to select a player on a winning team. How he can feel constrained with those guidelines, no matter how anybody else has ever voted in the history of the award, is beyond me. Unless I am missing something he has just admitted to NOT following the guidelines provided by the BBWAA because he has said he thinks Trout is most valuable and yet voted Cabrera first.

    Craig–Is there some unwritten rule that contradicts the written guidelines that would result in the ostracism of Buster Olney for daring to vote his conscience?

    • braddavery - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      Given the guidelines stated, no reason for a vote is wrong. Therefore, Olney broke no guidelines no matter what his reasoning is. He can vote for whoever he wants and for any reason, just as all the rest. That is why these discussions are just minutia. It doesn’t matter who wins as there is no right or wrong way to vote. It’s a popularity contest.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        I know the guidelines, and I know he broke none. As I said, I posted the guidelines the BBWAA sends to the voters. I don’t even care that he voted for Cabrera. Cabrera is a great player. Plus, as you say, it isn’t a really big deal anyway. What has me flummoxed is his reasoning. He says he thinks Trout is the most valuable player but feels forced to vote for Cabrera instead due to precedent/that’s how others have done. His reasoning is poppycock because there is nothing in the BBWAA guidelines pressuring anyone to do anything. His vote is fine, but his reasoning is strange.

  22. disgracedfury - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    There should be an award for best all around hitter and than the MVP.I don’t believe even a starter should win an MVP when very four days he can’t do anything.Trout is the best all around player but Cabrera is much more valuable.

  23. dlhouse18 - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    /sarcasm

    I full on disagree with Olney’s stance. I think that MVP should only go to players who are great (but not the best) on good teams. However, I need to preserve my image as a rebel and therefore have to go against the grain and vote for the outright best.

    /literal
    Seriously, Trout has been the best player in ALL of baseball (including the NL) the past two seasons. It’s ridiculous that he likely won’t get even 1 AL MVP in 2 years when he should have two as a 22 year old. He’s doing his part, and then some, and then some more. There’s just no helping the rest of the Angels.

  24. banggbiskit - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Trout is solid, but he’s neither the best player nor the most valuable. His team was what, 5 games UNDER .500? That team had EXTREME high hopes adding lots of fancy FAs, their finish has to be held against Trout, even if its not at all his fault.

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