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November 6, 2012
Out of Left Field
Can We Make Adrian Beltre the MVP?
I’ve wanted to write about Adrian Beltre for a long time, but with the Rangers' quick playoff exit there hasn’t been a good excuse. Then today, at the sports bar, standing at the urinal, I thought, "You know, Adrian Beltre should be the MVP." Because that’s what I think about in the bathroom, standing at the urinal: Adrian Beltre and the MVP race. And nothing else.
The MVP votes have already been cast so this is as effective as a political advertisement on November 7th, but hey, sometimes the candidates have money left over and what are you gonna do? Besides donate it to a homeless shelter or something all moral or whatever.
While we don’t yet know* the winner, we know the AL MVP will be either Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera. Nobody else is going to win. It’s going to be one of those two guys. Adrian Beltre, to rip off a phrase, isn’t even in the discussion. But maybe he should be. And maybe he shouldn’t be. Either way it’s a good excuse to remember how awesome Adrian Beltre is.
*We don’t know know that, but we know that, ya know?
So, here are 10 reasons Adrian Beltre should be MVP this season. OK, there aren’t really 10 reasons Adrian Beltre should be the MVP this season. If you look at our numbers the MVP should be Mike Trout. If you look at just about anyone’s numbers the MVP should be Mike Trout. He has a higher TAv, plays a more important defensive position, and does it much better than Cabrera (and maybe Beltre). But if you read the mainstream press, the favorite seems to be Miguel Cabrera. Why? Well I can’t speak for the Mainstream Press, but if I had to hazard a guess, and I’ve backed myself into a corner here so I do have to hazard a guess unless I want to use the backspace key which I inadvertently spilled tomato soup on so I’m not keen on touching it right now, my guess would be because Cabrera won the Triple Crown. So RBIs.
Not that the Triple Crown isn’t neat. It is. Neat! It’s neat in the same way a no-hitter or hitting for the cycle is neat. They are isolated feats that, while neat, aren’t of tremendous overall value in the course of a season and thus aren’t good indicators of a player’s value. But whatever. Let’s use all of that and compare the MVP favorites: the stathead favorite (Trout), the mainstream favorite (Cabrera), and my favorite (Beltre) and see what we learn.
If we were to rank the three players defensively I think I'd be on sturdy ground saying this:
In fact, I doubt many would even argue with this ranking:
But now we come to a small problem. If you rank the players by our generally excellent FRAA, you get this:
In his career, most of which has come at first base, a decidedly easier position to play, Miguel Cabrera’s FRAA is -76.2. Adrian Beltre’s at third base is 64.6. That’s a difference of 140.8 runs, which without looking it up, is twice as many as the Astros scored this season. I think it’s fair to say that, watching Beltre and Cabrera play, Beltre was the better defender this season. Some may disagree, and I’m completely open to disagreement on the topic as long as those disagreeing realize they’re completely wrong.
So let’s fall back on the original ranking.
Also, Adrian Beltre does stuff like this:
(GIF used with permission via Baseball Time In Arlington)
Let’s all ignore that all of Mike Trout’s plate appearances save one were in the leadoff position (he hit fifth once and didn’t even get one RBI!). We’ll further ignore the fact that Adrian Beltre batted clean-up in 633 of his 654 plate appearances. We’ll further further ignore the fact that, according to ESPN’s park factors, both Beltre and Cabrera played in hitters parks while Trout played in the fourth-most difficult park to score runs in.
* Sure, my wife says “hells.” Why not.
So, homers. Here:
Things I’m ignoring: park factors, number of plate appearances, overall level of competition, the guy with the pink mullet and trench coat going into the porno theater across the street.
Getting On Base
No, we can’t do that. Beltre’s on-base, while above league average, isn’t in the same stratosphere as Trout or Cabrera. So we get this:
If the Triple Crown meant anything it would include this stat. But since it doesn’t, who cares!
Getting Mad When Someone Touches Your Head
That’s about it. So, totaling up the final standings* (you didn’t even know there were standings!) looks like this:
* Three points for first place in a category, two for second, and one for third
So, as you can see, by this utterly ridiculous measure, Miguel Cabrera should be the MVP. And that is the best argument against Miguel Cabrera as the MVP that you will ever read.
Adrian Beltre for MVP! Don’t forget to tip your waitress.