Thursday, September 20, 2012

Troutman!

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout catches a Baltimore Orioles batter J.J. Hardy (not pictured) home run in the first inning during their MLB American League baseball game in Baltimore, Maryland, June 27, 2012.
REUTERS/Patrick Smith
Jon Paul Morosi wrote an article that suggests there is no contest in the race for AL MVP, that the winner should be Miguel Cabrera, hands down. To me, the article had a defensive tone and came across as a preemptive strike against anyone who would consider he did not look closely at his miscues on defense or more in-depth stats.

It sparked a rather lively debate online between those who agree with Morosi and consider Cabrera's potential to win the elusive Triple Crown (league leader in AVG/RBI/HR) as enough to secure the MVP award, and those who back the young outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Angels of LA Anaheingels, Mike "The Millville Meteor" Trout. It looked to me that it quickly became an argument between The Old School (RBIs and batting average) vs. The New School (WAR and wOBA) with clear lines drawn in the sand.

Old School, you back Cabrera. New School, you're a Trout man. (Troutman! I like that.)

I consider myself a Troutman.

Dustin Parkes at Getting Blanked took Morosi to task to a degree, and Dave Cameron at Fangraphs made an airtight case for Trout for MVP. Everything's there in both pieces, I don't need to reiterate their statements. I definitely suggest you take a moment and read all three articles to see what I mean.

Now, no one is suggesting that a vote for Cabrera is a vote wasted. If he does in fact win the Triple Crown, that would be a fantastic accomplishment that no one can take away from him. I understand that members of the BBWAA are going to vote based on that, and that alone. I just don't think that the metrics involved, batting average, RBIs and home runs are enough to determine a player's true value. Unless Cabrera put those runners on base himself, RBIs aren't a good measure.

Take a look at these numbers:

wOBA
wRC+
fWAR
R
TB
DRS
Cabrera
.420
169
6.6
100
347
-5
Trout
.420
174
9.4
118
283
25

With the exception of total bases, Mike Trout is the clear winner. Had Trout been with the Angels from the beginning of the season, the gap in total bases would be considerably smaller, and in the other categories, the divide would probably be wider. I know this could be construed as cherry-picking stats, but the same can be said for the Triple Crown, no?

In his piece, Morosi suggests that Cabrera has two weeks to hit two home runs and lock up the Triple Crown. To me, that reads as if no one else in the league is going to hit another home run for the rest of the season. Miggy's the only one allowed to do it because gosh darn it, he's the MVP. Such a world does not exist.

I think what I'm getting at is the MVP award, along with the rest of the awards handed out at the end of the year seem at best, awash in narrative and at worst, devoid of analysis and a royal screw job for the truly deserving. OK, that's a little harsh, but I think you see what I mean. These awards have to be taken with a grain of salt. The Gold Glove, a defensive award, is sometimes handed out based on reputation or offensive output, not actual defense *ahemderekjeterahem*.

Another reason why I feel strongly about this debate in particular might lie in the fact that I'm learning more about advanced statistics and I'm starting to see where real value is found on the playing field.

Or maybe I'm a horrible person and I still hold Cabrera's off the field indiscretions against him.

Maybe the real reason I'm a Troutman is the fact that I sat at my aunt's kitchen table this past June - in Mike Trout's home state of New Jersey, no less - and declared that he would win both Rookie of the Year and AL MVP, and I don't want to look like a liar.

Ah well. Troutman!

3 comments:

Paul said...

Kind of amazing to see some of the picks ahead of the Troutman! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Major_League_Baseball_Draft

Paul said...

sidebar: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/09/10/mike-trout-is-first-player-to-reach-10-war-since-barry-bonds/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

talk about interesting company

brendan mcknight said...

I have got to get this thing to update me when I have comments - I just saw this today. And yeah, Troutman is the man, man!!