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17 Responses

  1. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    Your argument sounds fishy to me.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    The Cy Young voters have finally learned not to over-value wins. Someday the MVP voters will learn the same about BA and RBIs; if not in our lifetime, perhaps in our children’s.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      What bothers me is the logical inconsistency. A big knock on Trout last year was that he didn’t pay the full season. This year, it is Cabrera who had an abbreviated season and that gets nary a mention.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Heh… the article I read earlier used his missed time as a plus: “He got the MVP despite all those injuries that caused him to miss a lot of games after the break!” (That’s not a direct quote.)Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    Can’t they just give the damn thing to them both?Report

  4. I guess United Trout just couldn’t muster up enough votes.Report

  5. Avatar J.L. Wall says:

    I’ve become a Cabrera partisan in all this if only because I spend too much time around social scientists who insist that everything — abso-fishin’-everything — is quantifiable through obscure, flawed, and frequently arbitrary mathematical formulae. So as much as I love Trout’s all-around game, and think of WAR as a valuable evaluative tool, Cabrera needs to keep winning, if only for the sake of the Humanities.

    Option B for my response is: The AL has a DH and MVP controversies; the NL has neither. Therefore, let’s blame the designated hitter rule. But I worry that my syllogism breaks down somewhere along the line here.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      While I will say that I’m sabremetrically inclined, I agree that we can’t boil everything down to a simple number.

      The thing is, you don’t need WAR or wOBP or WPA to see that Trout is better than Cabrera. Many of the traditional stats indicate as much. And, most importantly, any scout worth his salt will tell you that Trout is better than Cabrera. He tops Cabrera by damn near any measure or method of measurement.Report

      • The award isn’t for “best all-around baseball player,” though. It’s for “Most Valuable Player.” It’s extremely hard to have a claim to being the “most valuable” player when your team goes 78-84 and someone on a playoff team has a season like Cabrera’s.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        So last year, when Trout’s team had a BETTER RECORD that Cabrera’s but just so happened to play in a tougher division… should that have counted for or against Cabrera?

        Baseball players moreso than any other athlete have a limited impact on won-loss records. Trout only comes up to bat once every nine guys. He can only field the balls hit his general direction. He can’t control the pitching. He can’t set his teammates up aside from getting on base in front of them and/or knocking them in (two things he is very, very good at doing). This isn’t basketball where a guy can take over a game or football where the QB touches the ball each and every offensive play.

        So is it your contention that an MVP can only come from a playoff team? If not, what would a non-playoff team player have to do to win? Would being 25% better than the next play quantify? Because that is about where WAR had Trout.Report

      • 1. Last year, the Angels and the Tigers finished with essentially the same record – 89 wins for the Angels, 88 for the Tigers, with the Tigers making the playoffs because of their division. You certainly cannot count a one win difference against Cabrera. That factor is essentially a draw last year. This year, you’re talking about a 15 win difference. That’s a downright cavern.

        2. Being 25% better in WAR does not mean “is a 25% better player,” nor even – despite the claims to the contrary – is “a 25% more valuable player.” Why? Because “value” is not truly quantifiable – it’s too context dependent in my view; if you ask me, I think WAR tends to grossly overrate defense (and, to a lesser extent, baserunning) to the extent it is intended as a measure of “value.”

        3. This, 1000 times this: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9967744/celebrating-mvp-winners-miguel-cabrera-andrew-mccutchenReport

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        The Tigers TEAM allowed 624 runs. The Angels TEAM allowed 737 runs. That is a difference of 113 runs. How much of that can we or should we attribute to Cabrera and Trout? Detroit was 9th in MLB in ERA, 1st in QS, 9th in WHIP, and 8th in BAA. Considering they played in the AL, those are *stellar* numbers. They had four very good starting pitchers, including the Cy Young winner. The Angels only had two pitchers even qualify for the ERA crown. They had a team ERA .7 higher than Detroit’s. Again, how much of that do you want to attribute to Cabrera’s batting abilities? If we are evaluating the cases of Cabrera and Trout, I struggle to see what Max Scherzer and CJ Wilson have to do with it.

        The Angels won 9 fewer games this year than last year, despite Trout putting up relatively similar numbers. How do you account for that? Is that on Trout? Or his teammates?

        And we don’t even need WAR to see that Trout was more valuable. Trout had more runs, doubles, triples, walks, and stolen bases than Cabrera (though Rs and BBs were relatively close). Cabrera led in hits and HRs (with the former being relatively close). Their BA and OBP were close; Cabrera had a big lead in SLUG. Does any of that point to Cabrera being clearly better than Trout? Because if he isn’t clearly and significantly better than Trout as a hitter, than those pesky things you want to dismiss — defense and baserunning — are such huge advantages for Trout as to make up any difference. I will fully concede that defense and baserunning are harder to measure than offense and that most of our current stats are insufficient. Thankfully, we have scouts, any of whom will tell you of Trout’s superiority. His ability to impact the game outside of the batter’s box is the epitome of “valuable”. Whereas Cabrera is a liability as soon as he puts the bat down, Trout continues to help his team win.Report

      • If the difference in runs allowed was that significant, doesn’t that suggest that WAR is possibly overrating Trout’s defensive contributions? Surely, his defense plays a role in runs allowed, right?

        Additionally, it makes no sense to discount counting stats while promoting Trout’s advantages in doubles and triples. While Trout had more runs scored, he did so by a very slim margin. Meanwhile, Cabrera drove in a massive amount more runs than Trout. If you count runs scored and RBIs equally, it’s not even close between the two, and certainly not close enough where Trout’s defensive and baserunning advantages can be said to totally swamp Cabrera’s run production numbers – you can argue it’s a close call, but it’s most definitely not the case that Trout was clearly or inarguably the more “valuable” player.

        While scouts may well say that Trout is the “better” player overall, I just can’t emphasize enough that “valuable” and “best” are not synonyms and that “most valuable” is an especially subjective measure, and is intended to be so. I rather doubt that most scouts would have voted for Trout for MVP under the circumstances even if they think he is the better player.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I did leave out RBIs; that was an oversight. However, I do not consider RBIs and Rs to be of equivalent value (though I don’t consider either to be of much value as an evaluative stat). The reason being that an individual player can score one and only one run per PA, while that same player can drive in up to four runs per PA. So this skews the numbers (which is why the league leader in RBIs almost always has more of those than the league leader in Rs has of those). And I discount both because they are so context-specific. Trout had 184 PAs with RISP and hit 324/457/537 (he had a lot of BBs, meaning his total ABs was 136); Cabrera had 204 PAs (156 ABs) with RISP and hit 397/529/782. So, Cabrera did better in those situations, but also had more opportunities. (And on the flip side, Trout tended to have better hitters behind him, meaning more opportunities to score runs.) Ultimately, I don’t put much stock in those numbers.

        As for “best” vs “valuable”, I struggle to see a distinction. The best player is the one who does the most to help his team win. If he’s not doing that, he’s not the best. And vice versa.

        If you say, “Player X is the best, but Player Y gives you a better chance to win”, than Player X isn’t really the best. So when I say that Trout is the best, I don’t mean that he has the most raw talent or the best tools or whatever. I mean that he is the player who does the most to help his team win. And damn near every number that isn’t a simple counting stat backs that up.

        As for Trout’s impact on his team’s runs scored, there is only so much one man can do. This might mean that we ought not value defense and offense equally when evaluating a position player. But I offered those numbers to show that Ws and Ls are accrued by a team, not an individual player. That is probably the worst metric to use when evaluating a player. It is the sort of logic that leads people to holding Trent Dilfer over Dan Marino because the former won a Super Bowl and the latter didn’t.

        What are YOUR criteria for MVP? How do you measure the value of a player? Is it relatively consistent? Is it the guy with the most RBIs on a playoff team? Or is it more subjective? And if it subjective, how do you arrive at it when teams play 162 games a year, most of which aren’t on television nationally. See… you still use stats… just different stats. You favor RBI or HRs. What is the correlation between RBIs or HRs and team wins? Compare that to the correlation between walks, times-on-base, outs created, and defensive range and team wins.Report

      • What are YOUR criteria for MVP? How do you measure the value of a player? Is it relatively consistent? Is it the guy with the most RBIs on a playoff team? Or is it more subjective? And if it subjective, how do you arrive at it when teams play 162 games a year, most of which aren’t on television nationally. See… you still use stats… just different stats. You favor RBI or HRs. What is the correlation between RBIs or HRs and team wins? Compare that to the correlation between walks, times-on-base, outs created, and defensive range and team wins.

        To me, again, “value” is inherently subjective and incorporates all sorts of intangibles, not just the stats that can be measured. Indeed – and this is important – the subjectivity of “value” in baseball is and always has been one of the things that most make it enjoyable. I think it also makes no sense to say that “damn near every number that isn’t a simple counting stat backs that up,” when the only number that isn’t a simple counting stat which backs the conclusion that Trout was more valuable is WAR, which you’ve already acknowledged shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all. OBP, BA, and SLG are not simple counting stats, even if they’re not “advanced” stats, either, and Cabrera was tops on each of those.

        But going back to the RBI vs. runs issue, looking at opportunities doesn’t change the equation at all – with only 10% more opportunities, Cabrera drove in over 50% more runs; that’s a massive, massive difference. Meanwhile, with – by your own admission – notably more opportunities to be driven in, Trout only scored 6 more runs. Runs and RBIs are the game’s currency – steals, hits, and walks are worthless if they’re not translating into more runs.

        So what are my criteria? Well, yes, statistics are incredibly important, and they’re the very first place to start. But in weighing those statistics, I’d place the greatest priority on RBIs/Runs for hitters and ERA for pitchers. Beyond that, I want to see how those numbers actually affected the team’s play. If the team was terrible, a player needs to be so heads and tails above everyone else in the league that it’s not even a debate – the traditional stats and advanced metrics, in other words, would need to agree that the guy had the best season in the league, and even then, in my mind it would need to be a significant gap.

        I would not, in other words, have given the MVP to Andre Dawson in 1987 even though the traditional stats said to give him the MVP.

        As for this leading people to say Marino wasn’t as good as Dilfer, that’s silly – Marino’s teams regularly got into the playoffs, even if they didn’t ever win the big one. The Dolphins went 147-93 in games he started.

        Regardless, I’m not saying that getting into the playoffs, or at least being on a team with a winning record, is the be-all and end-all, either. I’m just saying that should at least be a factor when we’re looking at who deserves to be deemed the single most valuable player in a given year.Report