Jackson, though, while not an obvious candidate, is at least a defensible choice by one important advanced metric. He finished tied for 10th in BWARP last year at 5.8. Yet although 12 of the top 16 players in BWARP from 2012 appear on BP’s 2013 pre-season MVP ballot this year, Jackson is not among them. Perhaps this has to do with PECOTA, which projects his WARP to fall to 2.7 WARP, making him less than half as valuable, overall, as he was last year. He is also projected for a big drop in TAv—over 40 points’ worth. But since PECOTA makes a strong case against A-Jax for 2013, let’s make the MVP case for one of the most valuable players in baseball last year. The ultimate goal here, though, is to consider the complexities of predicting.
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Slugging percentage is, of course, a "power" stat. It's got the word slug right there in the middle of it, and also the word lug, and the word gin, all powerful things. But then Mike Trout comes around and slugs .564, and of course Trout has a ton of power but have you ever wondered just how much of Mike Trout's slugging percentage comes specifically from his speed? There's the doubles he turns to triples, of course. And the singles he turns into doubles. The infield hits he beats out. But there's also what defenders have to do to defend him; third baseman have to play closer than they want to, middle infielders have to bunch in a little, it's even possible (somebody should check!) that pitchers are more likely to work him up in the zone than a similar power hitter, knowing that inducing a groundball doesn't have quite the rate of return that it would have against an Adam Dunn-type .564 slugger. There's also the bigger gaps he gets because outfielders squeeze in just a little bit on him, knowing that otherwise he hits a routine single and turns it into a double. The full extent of it is impossible to measure. But if I had to guess, I'd guess that Mike Trout gains 35 extra bases a year based on his speed. That, if he ran like Josh Willingham runs, he'd have slugged .501 last year. What do you think, Shin-Soo Choo?
Everyone knows you can’t predict baseball. What this article presupposes is... maybe you can?
The first key to getting forecasts right is simply stating them in terms of likelihoods, and hoping nobody does the math on the long-term accuracy of such forecasts. As long as I give each prediction a greater than zero percent chance of happening and less than 100 percent chance of happening, I can’t be wrong. So let's go make some correct predictions!
The last thing I want to do is rehash the American League MVP debate. There is a long list of sharp objects I’d fit into my cornea before doing that. So I’m not doing that, I promise. However, the Miguel Cabrera vs. Mike Trout matchup highlights an interesting aspect of player value that's easy to measure but hard to see.
In contrast to hitting and fielding, baserunning can go unnoticed if you’re not specifically looking for it. It’s easy to focus on the pitcher and the hitter while ignoring what goes on just beyond the camera’s lens. Fortunately, there are stats that track who was good at running the bases and who wasn’t, and looking at the differences between the two AL MVP candidates is a convenient if untimely way to illustrate them.
Five hitters and five pitchers PECOTA thinks will sink in 2013.
Yesterday we looked at five position players and five pitchers whom BP’s projection system, PECOTA, believes are in for big improvements in 2013. Today we’ll tackle PECOTA’s picks to suffer some of the largest declines.
Hitters Mike Trout, Angels
2012 WARP (639 PA): 9.1 Projected 2013 WARP (693 PA): 5.3 Projected WARP decrease: -3.8
Trout is projected to see the largest WARP decrease of any player—and to tie for the fifth-highest WARP among non-pitchers. It’s a reminder of how far ahead of the pack he was in 2012 that PECOTA can project him to be much less valuable than last year, but still more valuable than almost everyone else. Although he fits the profile of a high-BABIP hitter, Trout was likely a little lucky on balls in play—his batting average on line drives was over 40 points above league average. Some regression in that area, coupled with the adjustments made by opponents who’ve spent the winter searching for ways to get him out, might make Trout merely one of the most valuable players in baseball instead of the most valuable by far.
No matter how hard you try to discredit Trout, he stacks up as an elite fantasy option in 2013.
Like many fantasy players, I spend little if any time during the season worrying about what a player will earn the following year. Even in keeper formats, I don’t invest a significant amount of time trying to figure out future earnings.
While I didn’t have an exact dollar value assigned to Mike Trout for 2013 back in October, I assumed that I’d have him ranked first or second in AL-only formats and first, second, or third in mixed formats. Besides Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera, there were few players who seemed capable of putting up big enough fantasy numbers to come close to Trout.
How do Mike Trout and Desmond Jennings compare to Coco Crisp when it comes to base-thieving technique?
A few weeks ago, prior to the holidays, I called Coco Crisp the league’s best basestealer. Being the best anything is a temporary position, so when you label someone the best you get people thinking about who will be the future best. In this case, that probably means Billy Hamilton. But the lack of video makes it next to impossible to review Hamilton in a thorough manner. Besides, writing "He’s so fast," over and over is a boring read. Instead of Hamilton, I opted to review two other players with a shot at usurping Crisp:Mike Trout and Desmond Jennings.
After Trout’s freshman season, it’s hard to call him the next best anything with a straight face. To be so young and accomplish so much is setting one’s self up for Tom Buchanan comparisons*, but somehow I think Trout will do okay with it. He might be, depending on Hamilton’s status for the upcoming year, the odds-on favorite to take Crisp’s spot in 2013. Trout showed off impressive chops by swiping 49 bases on 54 tries last season, running his big-league career total to 53 of 58 (a 91 percent success rate).
Silver Slugger awards shouldn't be controversial, but Jason finds a gap remains between advanced metrics and voters.
When you do an article search on this site for the phrase "Silver Slugger," you get 57 results, the first of which, by Gregg Pearlman, is apparently the 18th article ever written for Baseball Prospectus and the most recent of which is Geoff Young's piece about the Padres throwing their heft around the N.L. West this offseason.(That's #19056.) Young's Silver Slugger mention came because Jason Marquis won one. Pearlman was writing about Barry Bonds. (Or really about sportswriters' relationship with Bonds. This was October 1997. We were innocent once, and young.)
By contrast, when you search "Gold Glove," you see just a smidge over nine times the results. (The first of which, hilariously, is another Gregg Pearlman article -- this one includes a lamentation of the J.T. Snow trade—which is numbered "1" in our content system.)