I debated between a few titles for this article. Before we really get into the guts of this debate I’d like to list a few of them off for you.
- Why Mike Trout Is the MVP and If You Believe Otherwise You Need To Get Back Into Your Time Machine and Return to the 1890’s.
- Why Mike Trout Is the MVP and If You Believe Otherwise You’re Probably a Tigers Fan.
- Why Mike Trout Is the MVP and If You Believe Otherwise You’re Probably a Member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
- Mike Trout. MVP. Cabrera. Not.
- Triple Crown? More Like TRIPLE CLOWN.
I would like to immediately apologize for all of those titles and I hope that we can remain friends. If you’re one of my ones of readers you probably know that this is my first full article. “Congratulations! You’re so impressive”, is what I am assuming you just said out loud to yourself. “Thank you!”, is what I just said out loud to myself. I know you can’t hear it, but just trust that I said it and think of it whenever you congratulate me later. Anyway, let’s get to the meat of this debate.
Now, in order for one to hand out an award one must first define what the award signifies. So what does “Most Valuable Player” really mean? Does it mean the player with the most talent, greatest impact on the success of his team, or the player with the most liquid assets? I’m going to argue that the award should be given to the player with the greatest impact on the success of his team which I believe is the most widely accepted definition for the award. We definitely don’t want to give the award away based on criteria #3 lest we give a certain not-so-magic third baseman for the Yankees another trophy.
As you may have heard from my good friends at Fox during this world series MIGUEL CABRERA WON THE TRIPLE CROWN THIS SEASON. Truly an amazing feat, no? He finished the 2012 regular with a .330/.393/.606 triple slash line to go along with 44 HRs and 139 RBIs. I am not going to be the writer to tell you that Miguel Cabrera did not have an amazing season. By any measure, traditional or new age, he was one of the best players in baseball and has been since he became a full time player in 2004. However, I AM going to be one of the many writers to tell you that Mike Trout was the better player in 2012 and was more valuable to his team. I’m first going to tackle this argument from a traditional perspective as to not seem saber-biased, but I will completely obliterate any non-Trout argument once I get to advanced statistics which is an article for another day. Below is a table containing some of the most cited traditional statistics.
|Mike Trout||Miguel Cabrera|
The most common argument for Trout of Cabrera has been that Trout is a better defender and baserunner. While this is true I will argue that he has also been at least Cabrera’s equal with the bat as well. As you can see the batting average and on base percentage categories are essentially a wash. If Trout had been able to collect three more hits over his 559 at bats this season we would not even be talking about Cabrera as the triple crown winner. The home run totals here look like the death blow for the, “Mike Trout is as good offensively as Miguel Cabrera” argument. However, one has to keep in mind the home runs are not the only stat that is an indication of power. Trout had eight triples compared to Cabrera’s ZERO. That’s an infinite percentage higher! Cabrera did have 40 doubles compared to Trout’s 27, but we have to keep in mind that Cabrera had 58 more plate appearances than Trout when comparing counting stats. When adjusting plate appearances to Cabrera’s 697 we would expect Trout to end up with around 30 doubles, 9 triples, and 33 home runs. Not to mention this would make Trout only the third (Barry Bonds, Eric Davis) player EVER with over 30 HRs and 50 steals. There have been 17 triple crown winners, so if you’re into counting meaningless numbers (which since you’ve read this far you clearly are) Trout clearly comes out ahead here.
So, from a traditional perspective it looks like Cabrera and Trout managed to get on base and hit for average at roughly an identical clip. Cabrera clearly has a bit of a power advantage, but not nearly as large of an advantage as one would think judging by just HR numbers. Trout has a HUMONGOUS SB advantage by any measure. So what about defense? There are not many traditional statistics that accurately quantify the value of defense, but I’ll do my best to compare the two. First off, Fangraphs.com has Cabrera listed at 6’4” 240 lbs and Trout listed at 6’1” 210 lbs. Well, just from those numbers I know which guys I’d trust to catch a baby dropped from a blimp onto the outfield grass. I don’t want to just stop there though. Trout committed only four errors in 1225.2 innings of work in the outfield, most of which was spent in center field. He also had 3 outfield assists. Trout definitely is known more for his range than his arm, but that’s still in stark contrast to Cabrera who is most likely a better drinker than third baseman. Cabrera ended the season with 13 errors which third worst among qualified AL third baseman. However, I believe that statistic is a little bit misleading. Cabrera has almost no range and poor reaction time for a third baseman. One surely can’t make an error on a ball that they don’t even get to can they? There are many other advanced statistics that I would like to cite for a Trout over Cabrera win in the defense category, but those will be saved for another day. Suffice it to say that Trout blows Cabrera out of the water at a more important defensive position.
What have we learned today? Well, I believe I have proved with traditional statistics that Trout is at least the offensive equal to Cabrera and by far the better defender. He led his team to more wins in a tougher division and did so in his age 20 season. I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in things like the triple crown, but we have to put things in perspective. If Josh Hamilton had played in a few more games or Trout had had a few lucky hits fall in there would not even be an argument for Cabrera for MVP. Trout is the better player. Period. His team won more games. Period. He should be the MVP, but I don’t think he will be. Unfortunately, there are still a few too many old people in this world.
I still love you grandma!