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Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera? It’s the bacon-or-cheese argument of the 2012 major league season, a decision that is weighted in preference rather than a universally recognized consensus. Both players have historic cases to make, just as the fatty pig meat and the pressed curds of milk are each historic in their deliciousness. On one hand, you have a rookie sensation whose electricity could power Paris, a player with an unprecedented debut campaign that draws comparisons to a young Mickey Mantle, only better, which isn’t exactly normal. This generational performance just happens to share a space with another generational performance, a statistical feat of such lore and reverence that the mere hunt and proximity to such an accomplishment is worthy of high praise and metallic hardware. Miguel Cabrera is the most feared hitter in the game, and when the dust settled on the 2012 season, his out-of-fashion slash line made him the winner of the Triple Crown, the first of its kind in the American League since 1967, which isn’t exactly normal either.

My head swims when I read about the absolutes of the game, my thoughts beaten down by the weight of the value argument, the binary answer to a question without a clear path to certainty. We all approach the game with different eyes, forming conclusions based on explosive mixtures of subjectivity and concrete data. Without a perfect recipe for value, we each make our own cocktails that are heavily rooted in our own experiences, be they on the field or on the computer screen. I’m not here to present one side of the argument over the other, or to paint one side of the fence a color that will instigate condemnation from a disapproving majority; the baseball industry doesn’t wear one suit, and when I polled ten contacts to get their take on the Trout/Cabrera debate, the answers were as diverse as the job titles next to their name. From the top of the industry food chain to the bottom, I asked a simple question of value, which yielded a surprisingly close vote.

Before I get to the results and share just a few of the thoughts from insiders, I want to preface with a call for respect for those that participated in this article. Each voice has earned the right to call major league baseball their home, which neither guarantees an intelligent and rational nature to their response nor elevates their words beyond criticism. With different approaches and experiences, they form an opinion just like everybody else, albeit opinions that come from behind the curtain rather than the cheap seats or the sofa. As a hot temperature topic, opposing thoughts, especially those wearing the old-school label in the face of a new-school bully, will most likely be met with contempt, and perhaps ridicule. I get it. I can’t say I understand the rationale of some of the arguments that I received, but I respect the voices providing those responses, and I hope you can do the same.

The Final Vote: Mike Trout wins the MVP with 6 out of 10 industry votes

Pro-Trout (a few select quotes):

“Trout. Defense at a premium position is the difference maker for me.”—Front office executive

“I understand that, to some degree, this individual award depends on how your team does and accordingly that Trout loses some ground because of that. The key word is “some." Not infinite, but “some.” I think it is reasonable to believe that at some point, a player can be so far ahead of another that he still gets the award despite his team not making the post season. When you break down what these two contributed, it isn’t very close; perhaps Trout exceeds not only Cabrera’s value but another 50% of Cabrera’s value. Really? Being in the “right” division (the Central instead of the West) is enough to shift the lead to Cabrera? That seems way out of whack to me. In effect, that is a giant step towards making the “did he play on a playoff team” a requirement to win the award. Voters have not behaved that way in the past and if I were voting, I would not behave that way today.”—Front office executive

“Trout should win the MVP. He was the better player and without him the Angels may have finished under .500. In fact, you could even argue—although not very well—that Verlander was as valuable as Cabrera to the Tigers' winning ways. The Tigers would have been a good team even without Cabrera, but the Angels would have finished last in the AL West without Trout; that's the difference for me.”—Front office/scouting department  

“Trout for me.  While Cabrera is having a MVP season as well and is on pace to win the Triple Crown, Trout changed the culture and attitude of an entire ML team. They were downtrodden and struggling till the day he showed up. He revitalized Torii Hunter, Albert came out of his funk and they started playing outstanding baseball. You asked me about Most Valuable Player….Trout, best player Cabrera.”—Pro Scout (former player)

“I'm going with Trout, and the primary reason is position and defense. What he did as a plus-plus center fielder is what gives him the edge, albeit slight, over Cabrera.. But acting like some WAR or WARP or whatever leader board is how the MVP ballot should line up is ludicrous.”—Front office/Scouting department
 
Pro Cabrera (a few select quotes):

“Cabrera, though very close and a real head-scratcher.  Would have liked Trout in ML entire year versus 89 PA at AAA before 4/28 call up.  Both have MVP performances, but Cabrera is not only in MVP territory, but is in Triple Crown reach—a real achievement not done since ’67 Yaz.  Though Trout’s defensive run prevention is plus-plus, and offense is plus, I still feel Cabrera’s likely Triple Crown offense offsets some of Trout’s offensive & defensive performance.”—Pro Scout (former player)

“Cabrera. The bat and a full-season of production.”—Pro Scout

“ I would lean towards Cabrera. I am not as focused on the potential Triple Crown as most people who would vote Cabrera, although I do think it is a nice accomplishment. I think Cabrera has had a slightly better offensive season and while Trout is the better defender and plays a priority position, I think Cabrera should be rewarded for moving to 3B for the good of the organization.”—Front office/Player Development

“Miguel Cabrera is the MVP. Mike Trout is a better baseball player, but so is Robinson Cano, Matt Kemp, and a handful of others. None were more valuable to their club, over the course of the season, than Cabrera. He was consistently great for 6 months, 161 games. He had a better 2nd half and, more importantly when talking about value, he was at his best during the pennant race. The Triple Crown was last achieved 45 years ago. No matter what you think of AVG, HR, and RBI, the feat is amazing. There's value in all 3 categories. The most I believe is in the ability to drive in runs. RBI aren't about luck. It's bat control and sacrificing personal stats like AVG to do whatever is needed to get the run in. Cabrera was even better in these situations. Cabrera was also supposed to be a killer at 3B. He ended the season with only 13 errors and somehow had a range factor higher than Adrian Beltre. He hardly cost the Tigers the way everyone assumes. Trout was very good in CF, but did move to LF late in games 35 times for Peter Bourjos. Either Bourjos can't play LF or he's that much better than Trout in CF.”—Scouting (former player)
 

 

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nerck93
10/04
How did Cabrera go about having a higher range than Adrian Beltre? Also "RBI aren't about luck. It's bat control and sacrificing personal stats like AVG to do whatever is need to get the run in." WTF
jparks77
10/04
Personally, I like RBIs. I recognize its a limited stat that usually requires a favorable game situation, but it also requires a form of offensive execution from the hitter. Obviously, not every RBI is created equal. I also like batting average. It's a good measure of hit tool utility. You don't need to hit for a high average to have offensive value, but in order to allow a derivative tool to play, you have to start with the basic bat-to-ball relationship. It's not a perfect metric, but from a scouting perspective, it's a good way of looking at how well a hit tool is performing in game action. It shouldn't be ignored just because it has limitations.
DeathSpeculum
10/04
why does nobody downplay the impact of baserunning to reflect the simple fact that almost no player will get an opportunity to run bases more than 40% of the time?
cwyers
10/04
As I noted the last time you asked this: Baserunning is weighted at being as valuable as we think baserunning actually is -- in other words, one run in terms of baserunning is equal to one run obtained any other way. It's on us to be correct (or at least, reasonably so) in how we convert baserunning events into runs, of course. But once you do so, a run is a run is a run. Now, there are fewer baserunning runs than batting runs, in an absolute sense -- it's harder to be a +10 baserunner than it is to be a +10 hitter. But there's no reason to explicitly dock the contributions of baserunners any further than that.
DeathSpeculum
10/04
yeah and i suppose WAR is really looking at value vs a replacement player. so while i still question the general perception that baserunning is equivalent to hitting and defense in "tool value", my question to you about it in the WAR capacity probably isn't a very good one. (and that's why i left WAR out of it this time) BUT, since WAR is looking at replacement level value, wouldn't that overvalue skills or traits not normally associated with the position? for example a catcher that steals 20-30 bases. stealing 20 bases is by no means exceptional in the context of most baseball players, but compared to other catchers, it's astronomical. a pitcher that hits 5-10 home runs a year would create more runs than a pitcher that doesn't, but the value in those 5-10 ab's should be miniscule when compared with the 800 or so hypothetical ab's where he is pitching.
Schere
10/04
WAR isn't looking at replacement value on each outcome or each skill. It's looking at the total number of runs the player produces or saves, and then comparing that number to what a replacement player produces or saves.
DeathSpeculum
10/10
how do you measure how many runs are generated from a guy advancing from 1st to 2nd? historical trends?
kozysnacker
10/04
I see your point about the batting average from a scouting perspective. However, this debate involves determining which of the two contributed more value to his team this season, irregardless of the extent of utilization of tools. Trout should be the MVP.
bline24
10/04
I agree with Jason that RBI and AVG aren't arbitrary, useless stats. But awarding Cabrera MVP points because Josh Hamilton failed to hit a couple more HRs ~is~ arbitary. (Not that that's what Jason was suggesting.) It can't be the case that Cabrera is more valuable just because his AVG, HR and RBI happened to lead the league. They are what they are. In a year with two historic performances that produced almost equal value at the plate, I give the slight edge to Trout for baserunning and defense.
mikebuetow
10/05
You're right that RBI and AVG aren't useless stats. What is discouraging is the quote from the front office/scouting department person who said, "But acting like some WAR or WARP or whatever leader board is how the MVP ballot should line up is ludicrous.” Ludicrous is a really strong term, and I haven't seen anyone saying that WARP should be the only metric taken into consideration. But as metrics go, it's considerably better RBI or AVG. AS for those who wish Trout played a full season in the majors, well, he did league the majors in runs and, for what it's worth, stolen bases. Hey, speaking of which, since the two leagues play so many interleague games, why aren't the leaders combined too? If they were, no Trips for Miggy.
mikebuetow
10/05
Wow, major typing problems today. That should be, "he did lead the majors in runs ..."
nolansdad
10/04
THUMBS UP!
tbunns
10/04
On Baseball Reference, Cabrera is listed with a better range factor than Beltre for this season...you could have spend the 1 minute to look it up. I think it's funny that you spent time critiquing someone who made a comment about RBIs and said nothing about the person who voted for Trout because he "changed the culture and attitude of an entire ML team". At least the RBI scout made an argument that you can have a discourse about. I think the quotes are great and show that you can have a lot of valid and varied opinions about this topic.
alangreene
10/04
I don't think it's a very useful analytical stat from the outside (or as an analytical stat from the inside). But a player -- or coach -- thinks differently for a reason, I suppose. Reading the ex-players' quote, it reminds me of how Joe Morgan used to talk. The way a player should think to get optimal results on the field isn't necessarily how a GM should think.
sportspopery
10/04
The arguments about culture changing and carrying teams are both unquantifiable and incredibly important. We can't quantify everything (I don't think we should), and that's where scouting comes in to fill the gap. The insight about RBI's being about bat control is quite interesting and something I hadn't thought of before. There's no little skill involved in hitting, especially when cutting down one's swing to make contact, though Cabrera had all of 6 SF's. RBI by definition come down to chance, but it would also be interesting to see who executes in RBI chances (measuring contact rates, K rates) and if it lines up. I'd flip a coin here, though I lean Trout. A Triple Crown's a remarkable accomplishment, too.
lmarighi
10/08
To an extent, it seems to me that talking about RsBI being about "bat control", or about somehow "performing better with runners on" is really the "clutch" argument under a different name, and "clutch" is something that can be measured in ways better than RsBI. I won't go so far as to say that RsBI are completely useless, but I'm still pretty convinced that the only thing that isn't measured better by another metric is "number of runners that scored on a hit or sacrifice by this particular player".
KerryHofmeister
10/04
"The way a player should think to get optimal results on the field isn't necessarily how a GM should think." As I coach and fan I really hate RBIs, but you make an outstanding point. I would never tell a player that. It makes sense that people value Cabrera higher because their experience comes from playing. That being said Trout brings more value.
zasxcdfv
10/04
I think this was a great subject about which to poll the industry. Thanks for the insight!
tlowell5
10/04
I would like to take this opportunity to mention that both players are on my Strat team. Therefore, my answer to Trout vs. Cabrera is...yes. Also, I will manage to not even win my division because Mike Minor and Mark Buehrle are my best starting pitchers.
CSPitt17130
10/04
No one cares.
DeathSpeculum
10/04
jason, why do you hate the tigers?
andrews
10/04
BP always been down on the Tigers for some reason - it's deep rooted and institionalised because despite the staff turnover it's been going on for at leat 10 years.
bornyank1
10/04
Hatred of the Tigers is passed down from one staff member to the next in a sacred anti-Tiger ceremony, but you'll never get any of us to divulge the details.
jparks77
10/04
No kidding. Those secret meetings where we kill tiger cubs and drink their blood for giggles are just loads of fun. Whatever it takes to keep the Tigers a notch below the rest of baseball.
juice133
10/04
I wish I would have known about these secret meetings before I signed on...
andrews
10/04
Hatred's far too strong a word, it's more a persistent negative slant. Until JV upped his game a couple of years ago every Tigers article was slightly negative.
KerryHofmeister
10/04
As a Tigers fan, no.
mattymatty2000
10/04
Which reminds me, can I stop drinking tiger blood now? PLEASE?
myshkin
10/04
Whereas hatred of the White Sox is limited to the subbasement housing the servers on which PECOTA runs?
DetroitDale
10/04
I find myself in compelte agreement with the last quote... Now granted I'm a little bit biased but I think the importance of speed and defense is overrated both generally and in this debate. 3B is at least as important as CF defensively, and despite a lot of naysaying in the beginning of the season, his performance there was adequate, and how great was Trout's CF if he keeps getting moved to a corner? Adequate defense at 3B is more valuable than any level of corner OF defense. A stolen base gets you one quarter of what you need to score a run, a home run gets you the whole thing, plus more runs if guys are on base. The Angel's lineup has more reliable hitters, where the Tigers are very weak past Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson, Making Cabrera more valuable to his team as well as the better hitter.
bsolow
10/04
Trout hit 30 home runs in 22 fewer games -- this isn't a speed vs. power debate. It's a speed, defense and power vs. a little more power debate. The Angels pitching staff doesn't induce many ground balls, either, so outfield defense (especially in center) is pretty important. Also, B-Ref has Cabrera as below replacement defensively at third, so some would question whether Cabrera is even an adequate defender there. The Angels lineup is better than the Tigers, it's true, but they're also a better team. They won more games in a MUCH harder division -- it's hard to justify crediting Cabrera for his team not being as good. If the Angels were worse than the Tigers, I'd agree that the shallowness of the Tigers lineup would be a reason to prefer Cabrera, but you shouldn't get credit for leading your team to be worse than one of your competitors.
andrews
10/04
Reading comments like this you'd be forgiven for thinking the Angels won over a hundred games and had the misfortune to be in the same division as a powerhouse club - then you check the standings are see they won........89 games......
Ophidian
10/04
And realize that 89 is more than 88 -- the number of games the Tigers won.
andrews
10/04
I'm not talking about the Tigers - just pricking the balloon that is this over inflating of the Angels performance (in isolation) that permeates several posts here.
backbrush
10/04
Great point. The postseason argument is pretty silly given the Angels wonder games than the Tigers in a tougher division. But, it's also a bit of an overstatement to credit the Angels turnaround to Trout's callup. Pujols was horrible during the first six weeks, then turned back into Albert Pujols. That helped.
orenjungreis
10/04
how does miggy have a little more power than trout .....
bsolow
10/04
Well, Miggy slugged .606 and Trout slugged .564, which isn't a huge difference. It's less of a difference (by a tiny bit) in ISO since Miggy had a higher average. Alternatively, project Trout out to 161 games and he hits ~35 homers, which is 9 fewer than Cabrera -- and that's the number that magnifies the difference the most. To put it in perspective, Trout's slugging this year as a 20 year old is right between what Larry Walker and Albert Belle slugged for their careers (good for 13th and 14th place all time, respectively). Just because Trout is amazing in the field and on the bases doesn't mean he's much less amazing at the plate. Miggy had a better season at the plate, but not an astronomically better season -- and most of that difference is as a function of games played (Trout had a higher OPS+).
Oleoay
10/05
Miguel has even more power than Trout than it appears if you change Trout's triples to doubles and any legged-out doubles into singles. That part of SLG/ISO is more a function of speed than power.
bsolow
10/05
Sure, but two bases are two bases. I'm not aware of any convincing research out there showing that there's much of a difference between a "speed" double and a "power" double. It's hypothetically possible, but I'm doubtful that the magnitude of such an effect would be large enough to bother considering.
Oleoay
10/05
What about a speed triple vs a nonspeed double?
bsolow
10/06
Give him credit -- it's strictly better to have a guy on third than a guy on second. In terms of describing someone by tools, I agree that it makes a difference. In terms of production, absolutely no difference. I agree that you're probably right about a semantic difference, but if we're talking about "power" produced in games, it's some measure of total bases per at bat (either removing singles or not)...producing extra bases is producing extra bases. Besides, Trout only had 8 triples all season. Taking away 8 TB to transform them into doubles would leave him with ~97.5% of his season TB, or a slugging of .550 -- not a huge difference.
km9000
10/05
I agree a double's a double. It's a matter of production, not a weightlifting contest. Both ways help the team the same amount. Of course once they're each on second, I'm sure both guys would rather have the faster guy out here. If a guy keeps hitting moon shots to the warning track, that obviously shows more power than a guy hitting liners in the gap, but it's not too useful.
djwells
10/04
I'm a BP addict and total stat-head, but I cannot make up my mind on this one! I'm leaning to Cabrera because of the Triple Crown and the playoff berth. In Trout's defence though, his team was in contention until the bitter end and that counts for a lot. The Triple Crown for me probably clinches it. It has only been accomplished a handful of times and each time by a Hall of Fame player. I know batting average is terribly old school, but I'm in awe of Cabrera and what he accomplished.
djwells
10/04
Hey here's an idea- let's do a 1979 and award them both the MVP!
jnewfry
10/04
So one of these is pretty clearly Kevin Goldstein, now on the other side of the phone call, isn't it? My bet, KG's the last guy voting for Trout.
jparks77
10/04
KG is too busy to take a call from an outsider. haha
vertumnus
10/04
"RBI aren't about luck. It's bat control and sacrificing personal stats like AVG to do whatever is needed to get the run in." I can certainly understand what's being suggested here, but this should be something we can evaluate. For instance, it's pretty easy to look up the AL leaderboard for sacrifice flies. Cabrera's in a big pack in 15th place with 6 SFs. The leader, Mark Teixeira, has 12. That raw number should probably be adjusted to account for how many times the batter has come up with < 2 outs and a runner on 3rd. I don't know how to look up how many times Cabrera has grounded out while driving in a run, but sac flies + RBI groundouts would be the only 2 scenarios covered in "sacrificing AVG to get the run in", right? Maybe Cabrera has a huge number of RBI groundouts and his SF/chance is really high, which would validate what the insider was arguing. I suspect it's more likely that Cabrera has the most RBI because he has the most extra base hits, the most total bases, and the 2nd most hits in the AL. In other words, accumulating the "personal stats" are where the RBI came from.
tbwhite
10/04
Of course a SAC fly doesn't actually hurt your batting average. A ground out that scores a run would hurt your batting average, but it should, shouldn't it ? If there were 2 outs, the run wouldn't count. So, the batter must have been up with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs. In such a situation it seems doubtful that the batters intention was to hit a ground ball to drive in the run, a fly ball would work just as well, and a base hit would be even better. It seems like the main goal at that point would be simply to make contact. Regardless the fact that the leader in SF's has 12, tells me all I need to know about the quality of this argument. We're talking about players who hit ~3 to ~4 times more homers than the SF leader had in SF's, and I'm supposed to believe that SF's are somehow important in determining who was the better player ? What about grounding into DP's ? Cabrera led the AL with 28, Trout had 7. That right there wipes out the SAC fly argument.
leleutd
10/04
The SF rule is a holdover from a simpler era where we were limited to counting statistics and rates calculated with simple math. An era when we didn't have the computational power to run complex formulae, or run regressions. It should be eliminated. 100% agreed on double plays. For the record, Trout made 404 outs this year (PA - H - BB + GIDP + CS + SF + SH). Cabrera made 404 outs this year. Cabrera had 62 more plate appearances than Trout.
sp11ke
10/04
It very well may come down to #want. Trout's #want is visible at all times. Cabrera has a quiet confidence about his game, suggesting enormous #rig.
Bkmcmahon
10/04
I think you discount the attitude of the players when there is a runner on 3rd with less than two outs. At times, they are trying to just get the ball in the air and not looking to hit one on the nose. A ball in the air is generally not as well hit as a line drive or ground ball. You don't want a ground ball that wont score the run. and you certainly dont want a line drive at the 3rd baseman.
mikebuetow
10/05
Regarding batter's intention, Baseball Reference makes it pretty easy to figure out whether situational hitting is a real skill or more or less random.
backbrush
10/04
RBIs are about where you bat in the lineup. Stick Trout behind Hunter and Pujols and he'd have a lot more. So too are Runs, but Trout's 129 in 139 games is still arguably the most impressive stat either player put up. Without doing the math I would bet that Trout's R/G and R/PA ratios are off the charts in the last 50 years. So if you want to talk context stats...
mikebuetow
10/05
Jeff Bagwell scored 152 runs in 159 games in 2000. Of course, he also had 700+ PA.
SlackerGeorge
10/06
If this is true: "RBI aren't about luck. It's bat control and sacrificing personal stats like AVG to do whatever is needed to get the run in." then shouldn't the batter be penalized for getting a hit in that situation? For if his intent was to "sacrifice personal stats like AVG...", he did not meet his intended outcome. Or it could just be that the batter has less ability to control the outcome in that situation than some are giving him credit for.
Timcarvin
10/04
I think these pieces are important. It is always fascinating to hear about what the thought process is in a front office. I also think the most important statement that much of the BP readership doesn't always seem to follow is: "But acting like some WAR or WARP or whatever leader board is how the MVP ballot should line up is ludicrous.”
DeathSpeculum
10/04
jason, why do you hate the angels?
andrews
10/04
BP always been down on the Tigers for some reason - it's deep rooted and institionalised because despite the staff turnover it's been going on for at leat 10 years.
andrews
10/04
sorry wrong post
DeathSpeculum
10/04
+1
Oleoay
10/04
You're kidding, right? BP's always liked that the Tigers owner supports the team and have been a fan of Dave Dombrowski for years. On the flipside, BP can't understand why the Angels often outperform their Pythagorean record. In any event, I haven't seen an anti-Tigers bias.
andrews
10/04
How long have you subscribed Richard?
Oleoay
10/04
Not sure, to be honest. I have BP 2007 and I have comments going back to 2008, so that should be at least half of the "10 years" you were referring to.
Oleoay
10/04
Are andrews and DeathSpeculum stuck on some kind of self-fulfilling regurgitative repeat?
DeathSpeculum
10/04
's a joke buddy. don't legitimately think BP (or jason) have an bias outside of his blatant disregard for Texans.
Yarky1
10/04
It shouldn't necessarily be lined up with any particular stat, but shouldn't it be lined up with actual evidence? I see the evidence that Cabrera might be a better hitter, but I don't how he's even close to being as valuable when you consider baserunning and defense. Some of the points made by the people quoted seem ludicrous. Trout loses points because of how the team did? His team was better and won more games against a tougher schedule. What difference does the timing of their value distribution make in the question of who was more valuable overall? Cabrera gets bonus points for being a lousy third baseman because the Tigers' roster management was f-ed up?
Oleoay
10/04
The argument might be in miniature, but it reminds me of the 1998 Sosa vs McGwire MVP debate where McGwire achieved something historical (breaking Maris's record and setting a new HR record) while the Cubs went to the playoffs with Sosa who was, at the time, inspiring fans and teammates as a feel-good story.
CaptainRaf
10/04
The postseason argument is the part I don't get about this debate. Since Trout's callup, the Angels went 81-58 and the Tigers 77-64. So because the Angels were so bad before Trout joined the team, that counts against him? either way, two historical seasons and no need for people to be negative toward people on either side. just great for fans to be able to experience both.
jwferg
10/04
Don't understand why Trout gets a 'markdown' on his defense for being on the same team as super-CF Peter Bourjos. MVP: Trout Aaron award: Cabrera
Schere
10/04
I can't decide if I'm happy or sad that this selection of the guys working in the business isn't any different on this stuff (awards) than a random collection of hardcore fans would be.
SydFinch
10/04
It is a close race, I favor Cabrera. ~ 330/45/140ish slash lines should be in the running for MVP every year, regardless if a Triple Crown occurred or not. - Judged by people that watched Tigers games Cabrera's defense at 3B has been adequate, in fact he's credited with "saving" a few September games with good plays at 3B. - Most defensive metrics remain very flawed (evidenced by how they bounce around from year to year and show Miggy with more range than beltre), yet most WAR models do not adjust accordingly. In fact, I would trust a scout's eye over most defensive metrics in judging defensive talent. - If Miggy wasn't playing 3B for Detroit in 2012, Don Kelly would be. If not Trout in OF, than Wells or Bourjos. Hence, all "replacement players are not equal", yet in WAR they are. Context (division, clubhouse morale) matters for purposes of some of the Trout advocates yet WAR which ignores certain context (actual replacement players, hitting with runners in scoring position) remains a big part of the argument. - A double with 2 outs and no one on in the 4th inning of a blowout, is not worth same as one with 2 men on in close game. Yet the value of said double is equivalent in WAR which assumes that all at bats are a "random walk" and thus outcomes are context-independent. Said simpler, RBI's do have some value (agree with Jason). - Angels record with and without Trout, ignores the reality that Albert Pujols who was AWOL without Trout showed up and some other guys started hitting as well. Grienke arrives. Trout is a legit candidate and an outright winner in some years, but I go with Cabrera in 2012 Understand all of the sabre arguments, been reading Bill James since 1977 and BP for 10 years.
mkvallely
10/04
I don't think Trout should be credited with bringing Pujols out of his slump. Pujols had just finished what was, by far, his worst month of all-time. I'm pretty sure you could've thrown Jason Parks into center field and Pujols would've started hitting again (unless Jason's poor influence led to Pujols getting hammered every night).
jmhanlonjr
10/04
Perhaps noteworthy that five of the six Trout voters were front office execs and three of the four Cabrera voters were scouts (and two former players). The opinions could track general comfort with or skepticism towards sabermetrics.
jparks77
10/04
Or, rather than skepticism towards sabermetrics, perhaps the players just have a different approach to the process. It's not anti-numbers as much as its pro-something else. One of the more tired aspects of the sabermetric defense is the defense itself. It often comes off as paranoid or petulant --perhaps justified, thanks to the slow mainstream response and/or ad hominem attacks that were volleyed by the baseball establishment --but the idea that those that aren't on the frontlines of the sabermetric attack are charging from the other side has always confused me. Not suggesting that this was your claim, it just seemed appropriate to address in this context.
jmhanlonjr
10/04
I guess the question is pro-what? I suppose you could give Cabrera credit for agreeing to play third, even though he probably understands he's not a gifted defender. But if we're weighing intangibles, at least from outside the clubhouse, it sure seems like Trout energized a foundering team and led them to a record superior to the Tigers. Dave Cameron just published a great piece on Fangraphs looking at a stat called RE24, which just tracks the actual run expectancy added or negated by a player's contextual performance over the season. No defense and no baserunning (other than stretching a single into a double or a double into a triple). Trout added more runs that Cabrera just looking at their actual hitting results. Other than an old fashioned attachment to the traditional counting stats, it's hard to see what else professional baseball guys would point to in support of Cabrera. (Although I suspect there's also a sentiment in some parts of baseball culture that awards like the MVP should be earned by sustained performance, and not given to rookies.)
km9000
10/05
Not that Cabrera's old, but I do wonder if it's like the Oscars, where a young actor might lose a close race because he'd supposedly get his share of chances later on in his career. Then again, in sports there's obviously no guarantee of a long career.
Oleoay
10/05
If Cabrera was a DH, he'd definitely have that held against him for not playing a position. True, 3B isn't CF, but it should get him some credit and more than, perhaps, if he played 1B.
Yarky1
10/05
It sounds like it is based on numbers (note the emphasis on the triple crown, and also games played), just poor ones to base a case on. I think if the analysis were truly separate from the numbers, there would be less of a conflict.
autkm2012
10/06
I would generally go with Miguel Cabrera since he was being pitched around from game 1 this season. However, looking at Mike Trout's splits, his first and second half numbers are remarkably identical. Lost a little BA, but no change in OBP and his power numbers are actually up a bit. Either everyone ignored him or he performed well once he brought himself to attention.