WAR, Offensive WAR and Defensive Runs Saved above the Average from Baseball Reference. Trout prorated stats are if he had the same amount of PA as Cabrera.
AL playoff picture if the season started the day Mike Trout got called up.
AL West Champ- A’s 83-58
AL Central Champ- Tigers 78-64
Al East Champ- NYY 84-59
AL Wild Card 1- Angels 83-59
AL Wild Card 2- Orioles 81-61
Out of the postseason- Rangers (78-64), Rays and White Sox
Here’s the debate… who should win the AL MVP? Miguel Cabrera did something that hasn’t been done since 1967. He won the Triple Crown, a mystical goal that seemed it would never be reached after players have been close the past three years. He also did it with sole possession of each of the categories. Mike Trout, a rookie called up April 28th, had a remarkable season and turned around the Angels season. He is the first player in baseball history with 125 runs, 40 SBs and 30 HRs. He is also the first player to join the 30/40 club as a 20 year old, the youngest member.
Using classic statistics, this debate is pretty close. Cabrera was first in BA and Trout was second by 4 points. Cabrera had more HRs and RBIs (obviously), but Trout had more runs (Cabrera was second in runs), more walks and over 10 times as many steals. I think the most impressive statistics here are the walks and steals. Obviously Trout would have more steals, he is much faster and it is a big part of his game. However, think of how many times he put himself into scoring position after hitting a weak single. This is probably one of the reasons his runs are so high as well. This definitely puts more value towards Trout. Also, the walks are extremely impressive to me. Trout, a rookie, came up into the majors and had enough plate discipline to draw more walks than Miguel Cabrera, one of the greatest hitters of this generation. Granted, Cabrera had Prince Fielder as his protection and pitchers probably feared walking him. I still believe Trout had a great accomplishment by having more walks than Cabrera. Also from the leadoff spot, he helps out a team so much by being able to be on base for the strong part of the lineup.
Now using sabermetrics, this debate turns toward Trout in a heartbeat. Using wins above replacement (WAR) from Baseball Reference, Trout has a WAR of 10.7. The last player to have a WAR above 10 was Barry Bonds. Miguel Cabrera has a WAR of 6.9. This actually a great WAR. However, according the Baseball Reference, an MVP level WAR is 8 or higher and 6.9 is not that. The first thing that will come to mind is “oh that takes into account defense too much.” Wrong. According to just Offensive WAR, Trout still has a higher WAR, 8.6, to Cabrera’s 7.5. The difference in this WAR comes from the difference in steals because of how important they are offensively even though they are often over looked. They help create runs by simply being in scoring position and by throwing pitchers off their game. When a speedster, like Trout, is on base, it will get into the pitcher’s head. Pitchers start to focus on the runner and not the batter. That usually leads to a pitch that is left up in the zone and then is driven into the gap. That’s when Trout comes all the way from first to score.
Defensively, the argument isn’t close as to who should win the MVP. Trout saved 21 more runs than the average OF this season, while Cabrera cost his team 4 runs compared to the average. Also, center field, I would argue, is the 3rd hardest position to play in baseball besides catcher and shortstop. He covers so much ground and he robbed HR’s and had one of the best plays of the year. Cabrera did switch positions to have Fielder come to the Tigers, but that shouldn’t be relevant in the voting because it is about this year and this year only. This year, Cabrera did not have a great defensive year.
From the team perspective, I had the AL playoff scenario if the season started when Mike Trout was called up. First we see that the Angels have a better record than the Tigers by FIVE games… FIVE! That’s huge. And clearly the Angels played in harder division with the A’s beating them because of the uneven schedule at the beginning of the year in this hypothetical scenario. Also another key aspect of this scenario, the Rangers are OUT of the playoffs and they clinched a playoff spot before anyone else in the AL in the actual season. That puts into perspective how important the beginning of the season is compared to the end. Each game counts the same until you are into the postseason. So the argument that Cabrera played better down the stretch is irrelevant; especially when the MVP is for the whole season, not just the month of September. Each game counts equally, a win is a win and a loss is a loss.
Trout also basically brought the Angels back from the dead. They were in last place and it was hard to even watch the games. They just could not hit the ball and nothing was going their way. It was awful. Once Trout got up, everything changed. The team had a new fire and clearly shown by their record since he got called up, he had a huge impact, offensively and defensively.
Overall, Trout deserves the MVP. I think if there was an offensive player of the year award, Cabrera would win and Trout would be an extremely close second. However, the MVP is about offense and defense and clearly combining both of these parts of baseball, Trout had the better season. He saved runs for his team and did not cost them any. He created runs on offense with his power, speed, and ability to get on base. It was an incredible season and he is only a rookie. He could be on his way to one of the best careers in baseball history, but only time will tell. In reality, I think the baseball writers will vote Miguel Cabrera the MVP. They are old school guys and the Triple Crown, an amazing achievement, is such a mythical achievement that I believe that they think if someone wins the Triple Crown he deserves the MVP. In my book, it will be Trout. In reality, we will find out after the World Series.
October 4, 2012