Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Sorry Miggy, But Mike Trout Deserves AL MVP

In all likelihood, Miguel Cabrera is going to win the AL Triple Crown, a feat that hasn't been accomplished in 45 years.

In all likelihood, Miguel Cabrera is going to win the AL MVP, because of the aforementioned feat.

This may have been acceptable in 1967, but not in 2012. Mike Trout deserves to win AL MVP in 2012.

What Trout has been able to accomplish in his first full year in the major leagues is nothing short of sensational. As of this post, he's one stolen base from becoming the third player EVER to hit 30 home runs and steal 50 bases in a season.

If Cabrera hangs on for the Triple Crown, he will become the 16th player to do it. Impressive, yes, but not as much as it appears; it's more a matter of circumstance.

For example, Miggy will finish with a worse average than he did last season (a league best .344), and a much lower AVG than the 2010 winner, Josh Hamilton (.359). And the HR total is only one better than Jose Bautista's 2011-leading total, and far less than Joey Bats' 2010 total of 54. Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown way back in 1909 with a whopping 9 home runs, and Frank Robinson's good-but-not-great .316 AVG was enough to secure the Triple Crown in 1966.

Plus, two-thirds of the Triple Crown statistics - AVG and RBI - are increasingly being seen as irrelevant, as not true measures of baseball prowess, and again, largely dependent on circumstance. Miguel Cabrera hits in the middle of a great Tigers lineup; Trout hits leadoff. And for what it's worth, Trout has 83 RBI, driving in the likes of Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo as opposed to the table-setters in Detroit.

And perhaps the most amazing statistic of all is zero: the number of games Mike Trout played before April 28. Trout has about 60 fewer plate appearances than Cabrera, and has still compiled eye-popping numbers.

Trout's WAR (Wins Above Replacement, increasingly considered the best and most accurate statistic to measure a player's value) is an astronomical 10.7, dwarfing Cabrera's 6.8. Without getting too sabermetric on you, this number means Trout is worth almost a full 4 wins more to his team than Cabrera - a significant number when you consider that four wins is the difference between the Tigers capturing the AL Central and missing the playoffs.

Trout has led his club to a higher win total, and has literally done everything in his power to get his team to the playoffs, short of physically moving the city of Anaheim to the Central Time Zone, which is unfortunately what it would have taken to put the Angels in the postseason.

When you also consider that Cabrera contributes next to nothing defensively and on the basepaths, you're basically saying that what Cabrera does at the plate 4 to 5 times a game is more valuable than what Trout does at the plate 4 to 5 times a game, plus playing a more challenging position at an elite level, plus being a terror on the basepaths.

And that just doesn't add up, no matter what statistic or formula you use.

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