Why Miguel Cabrera Deserves the AL MVP

We don’t always agree on everything here, but there’s at least one thing we can all agree on, right? It was a travesty when Ted Williams failed to win the MVP in his 1942 and 1947 Triple Crown seasons. And, when Lou Gehrig failed to win it 1934, and Chuck Klein in 1933, and Rogers Hornsby in 1922–despite all three  both guys leading their respective leagues in HR, RBI and batting average–that was pretty ridiculous too.

But, I don’t really care about them anymore. The thing I think we all can agree on is, if Miguel Cabrera wins the Triple Crown this year, he clearly deserves to be the American League MVP.

Here’s why:

  • He’ll have played something like 13 more games than Josh Hamilton.
  • Austin Jackson has a .382 OBP hitting in front of him, versus .330 for Ian Kinsler in the same role for Hamilton’s Rangers.
  • He’s gotten a hit in 0.3-0.5% more of his official at bats than Joe Mauer and Mike Trout.

Seriously, folks. Is there anything else that needs to be said? Why is this even a controversy?

Leave a Reply

83 Comments on "Why Miguel Cabrera Deserves the AL MVP"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Josh
Guest

Because there is more to baseball than hitting?

Andy
Admin

I think Dan is trying to pull our legs but sadly I’m not entirely sure.

A number of folks on Twitter have said that if Cabrera wins the triple crown, he’s automatically got to win the MVP, which is not true either historically or looking at the numbers this year.

Andrew
Guest

I ALMOST took the bait.

Nice post.

Jim Bouldin
Guest

It’s a reader-sarcasm-recognition contest between Dan and Bryan methinks.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Let the record show that I told Dan I thought the sarcasm was easily apparent before he posted. Perhaps HHS should institute a rule stating that an author has to post 5 or 10 articles before using any sarcasm, so the reader can get a feel for where we all stand on the RBI-WAR spectrum.

Evan
Guest

Hornsby not getting it over a nobody who did nothing was the biggest travesty.

birtelcom
Editor

Sarcasm aside, it is interesting that Cabrera would be the first Triple Crown winner who is not his league’s leader in (non-pitcher) WAR, unless you go all the way back to Paul Hines in 1878 when four home runs led the still-in-its-infancy NL. At the moment, Miggy trails not just Trout but Cano as well in WAR

dj
Guest

I use the blended WAR (B-R+FG/2). Miggy’s still up small.

Chuck
Guest

Cherry picking stats? OK, how about this?

Mike Trout has 43 more SB than Miguel Cabrera.
Mike Trout has 18 more runs than Miguel Cabrera.
Mike Trout has .001 higher OBP than Miguel Cabrera.
Mike Trout has a higher offensive win percentage than Miguel Cabrera by .033.
Mike Trout has almost 5x the Power-Speed number of Miguel Cabrera.
Mike Trout has a 0.5 better WPA than Miguel Cabrera.
Even playing 22 fewer games, Mike Trout has a 10.5 WAR to Miguel Cabrera’s 6.6.

Hey, that was fun. Did I win? 😉

Dalton Mack
Editor

That last stat is huge. I was on talk radio last night and debating my co-host about the AL MVP debate and cited that fact (he’s a big time traditionalist). The Millville Meteor is straight killin’ it this year.

bstar
Guest

Did anyone else hear about how the “Millville Meteor” moniker was born? Someone reading a baseball blog somewhere referred to Trout with that name and Wikipedia picked it up almost immediately. Knowing he didn’t have much time, this blogger got his friends to help him create a bunch of links to verify the name, even though none of the articles linked actually referred to Trout as the Millville Meteor. Within a few hours, B-Ref picked up on the name, and the rest is history.

Word is that’s exactly how the Commerce Comet was born too.

Jim Bouldin
Guest
I do have to challenge bullet #2 however, because you need to compare both the #1 and #2 BOPs between the two teams if you’re going to make that kind of comparison (and indeed, the # 2 position is arguably the more important of the two, because there will be more total innings in which the #2 hitter bats before the #3 hitter). Although Jackson is well ahead of Kinsler, Andrus is well ahead of the Tigers’ collective #2 (Boesch/Berry/Dirks/Infante). Here are the numbers, plus those of Hamilton and Cabrera: Team/BOP PA AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO GDP… Read more »
Chuck
Guest

D’oh! I took the bait! Fished in! Acck!!!

mosc
Guest

HHS needs more situational hitting statistics that don’t suck.

Base-Out Runs Added (RE24)
1.Encarnacion (TOR) 55.94
2.Trout (LAA) 49.94
3.Mauer (MIN) 47.77
4.Hamilton (TEX)46.87
5.Fielder (DET) 46.21
6.Cabrera (DET) 44.79

So Trout, from the friggin leadoff spot, has more RE24 than Cabrera as well.

Fireworks
Guest
I don’t have a problem with Trout winning MVP. I have a problem with the fact that the Angels drafted him with the pick they got from the Yanks for Teixeira (and the Yankees claim that Trout was #2 on their draft list, for whatever that’s worth after the fact). I also have no problem with Cabrera winning if the Tigers make the postseason and the Angels do not. While there is no mention of team success in the BBWAA’s guidelines for the voters their voting has indicated that helping one’s team make the postseason has been an important factor.… Read more »
mosc
Guest

I posted above the RE24 numbers, which to me are always a better indication of “run production”. Trout is an historically good run producer given where he hits in the linup and the number of games not played. That’s not even counting stolen bases.

DavidJ
Guest

RE24 does include stolen bases, actually. Look at his play log, and you’ll see that RE24 (along with WPA) is in fact tallied for his stolen base attempts:

http://www.fangraphs.com/statsp.aspx?playerid=10155&position=OF&season=2012

Anyway, I agree that RE24 gives a much more complete picture of a player’s contribution to team run scoring than R and RBI do, and that it clearly shows that Trout has been every bit as productive offensively as Cabrera has.

DavidJ
Guest

Though what’s not included in RE24 is stuff like going first to third on a single, first to home on a double, etc. And Trout of course gains even more on Cabrera when you account for that stuff as well.

bstar
Guest

According to Tango, the really good measure of how good a situational hitter has been is (RE24-wRAA), because they both measure the same thing but RE24 breaks down the performance among the 24 base-out states while wRAA assumes the performance is evenly spread out across them:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/re24-insidethebook-com/

I can’t readily find wRAA on B-Ref, so here are Fangraphs’ #s:

M Trout (RE24-wRAA)=(52.46-50.10)= +2.36
Cabrera (RE24-wRAA)=(42.59-55.20)= -12.61

So, yeah, Cabrera has not been a good situational hitter in 2012.

Ed
Guest
It is interesting how much importance is still placed on winning the Triple Crown. I think once you think about it for a second or two, you can see just how absurd the Triple Crown is. I’ll bet most of the pro-Triple Crown crowd has no idea when the Triple Crown was “invented”, who invented it, or why they chose those particular categories. And if you don’t know those simple facts, then why are you placing so much importance on it? If runs scored had been chosen (for example) instead of RBIs then we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.… Read more »
Jacob
Guest

I’m guilty. I’m usually a very rational guy, but a 2012 player winning the Triple Crown just makes me irrationally excited. For all the wrong reasons, too: history, narrative, the fact that my dad always told me to look for the high RBI guys.

It isn’t science, it’s culture.

Jimbo
Guest

Back in the 80’s and 90’s when I watched a lot of baseball on TV, everytime a batter came to the plate, 3 stats were shown for him. BA/HR/RBI. Nowadays they usually put OBP as well and make it 4 stats. So maybe it’s time to have it be the quadruple crown.

Fireworks
Guest
Seriously though, I give Cabrera unquantified credit for moving to third, and do not entertain critics whom say that Fielder or Cabrera could have chosen to become the DH because, well, that’s stupid. Cabrera doesn’t want to DH, there was a black hole of value at third base, and Fielder doesn’t want to DH, and there were other teams out there that would have given him money (also, is Fielder gonna get $200 million to be a DH? Don’t think so.) No one wants to DH at ~28 or however old these guys are thereabout. I also will give Cabrera… Read more »
mosc
Guest

The Hank Aron award exists. If people don’t care about it, that’s their problem. MVP has always meant contribution more than performance. The difference basically means playing in relevant games towards determining the eventual WS winner.

Fireworks
Guest
I mentioned what the MVP has meant in terms of voting, however: From BBWAA.com: “There seems to always be a debate about the definition of the MVP. What does the ballot say? Dear Voter: There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier. The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931: 1. Actual value of… Read more »
Tmckelv
Guest
Not really germane to the overall discussion, but when you listed the Triple Crown winners that did not win the MVP it got me interested to check out those specific MVP races. A lot is made about Joe D beating out Ted Williams in 1941 and how egregious that result was. But that doesn’t even remotely compare to the inexplicable results of the 1942. Like you mentioned, Williams won the Triple Crown with 36 HR, 137 RBI, .356 BA (actually he led both leagues in each category). He also had a slash line of .356/.499/.648, again leading both leagues in… Read more »
mosc
Guest

DiMaggio played a mean center field. That maybe mattered more then than now.

Fireworks
Guest

Tmckelv you point out the most likely culprit in your fourth paragraph when you mention that Williams won in 1946 when the Sox won the pennant. The era in which Williams played seems to have been strongly guided by the idea that the MVP was the guy on the pennant winner.

But it is clear that Williams was better than Dimaggio in 1941, and Gordon in 1942. Hell, Williams was better than Dimaggio during Dimaggio’s famous 56-game hitting streak. Dimaggio only hit two points better during his streak than Williams hit for the season.

no statistician but
Guest
I pointed this out recently on a different thread, but in 1947 Williams came in tied for 3rd in first place votes, a bad third with only three, behind Joe D with eight and Joe Page with seven. He did finish 2nd in total points, only 1 behind Dimag. So it wasn’t just a couple of writers out to get Williams, or a duel between the two big names. A huge majority of the voters didn’t see him as MVP in spite of his numbers, whereas the previous year when he didn’t lead in any of the triple crown categories… Read more »
tag
Guest

Great point(s), nsb. I mean, sportswriters of that postwar era were only guys like Roger Kahn, Charles Einstein, Ring Lardner, Jr., etc., who knew oh so very little about baseball and how to observe things in general.

Your point about hubris is spot on. We get a few powerful insights due to a new way of looking at the numbers, and now we’re experts on everything, even things we weren’t there for.

RichW
Guest
@no statistician but; I think you are revising history yourself with some assumptions that have no logical basis. To suggest that certain reporters of the time were not cheerleaders is wrong based on a lot I’ve read in historical accounts. Newspaper reporters were often shills for the club. The quid pro quo was sometimes just keeping the gig other times special access and inside info for scoops. As an example consider the media campaign against DiMaggio in 1938 when he held out for $40,000 and was thoroughly humiliated and even booed at Yankee Stadium. As for the writers, there were… Read more »
MikeD
Guest
Rich, I agree regarding the relationship between MLB teams and reporters from years past. It’s probably not that easy for fans to grasp today the importance and extreme power and influence newspapers had in everyday life. Today we still have newspapers, but their role is greatly, greatly reduced, and as such how and what they report has changed. Certainly going back 80-100+ years, the connection between newspapers and sports teams was very symbiotic. It was viewed as good business on both sides. Today we have mind-numbing, 24-hour coverage of our favorite teams and players. Miss a game? DVR it! Couple… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Rich W: Thanks for the challenging response. I’ve just looked through the voting info for most years between 1933 and 1961 in the AL, and my conclusion—feel free to draw your own—is that there were some wrongheaded individual votes cast in a lot of those years, but I don’t see evidence, at least in the MVP voting, that there was a particular New York bias on the parts of the non-NY writers, or that whatever shilling some writers were forced (or were happy) to do on the parts of the teams they covered clouded their judgment in the secret ballot.… Read more »
RichW
Guest
n s b: I appreciate your response. I’ll grant you that my accusation of bias may not be well founded but the voting was still strange. I read a piece last night that states firmly that the 3 Boston writers did vote for Williams and said so publicly. If one assumes that DiMaggio got the 3 NY writers votes then 15 other first place votes were given to Joe Page and George McQuinn; both Yankees who were not even close to the top by any era of statistical measurement one wishes to use. Even if DiMaggio didn’t get all 3… Read more »
Joseph
Guest

I don’t think there can be any question of bias in baseball history. It may not be so obvious in the MVP voting, but recall that Jackie Robinson was only named on 77% of HOF ballots and Willie Mays on only 94%.

And bias was not limited to race or ethnicity. I moved around the country enough as a child to encounter regional bias and even prejudices that appeared to be directed at my lower middle class white Jersey accent.

no statistician but
Guest

For Rich W:

About George McQuinn and Joe Page: Again the operative term is Valuable. McQuinn came to the Yankees to play first base after a disastrous falling off by Nick Etten in 1946 and put up outstanding numbers. Joe Page was mainly a reliever, but he had 14 wins and 17 saves, many in critical game situations, and 31 relief wins/saves at that time was extremely rare, highly impressive, considering how the game was played then. Williams was better, no doubt, but was he more valuable? That’s the conundrum.

Brent
Guest

One point:

If you looked at 1933 to 1961, when the Yankees won 19 of 29 pennants, and your conclusion is that winning a pennant may influence the MVP voting but being a Yankee doesn’t, how do you separate the two?

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
I think many current baseball fans underestimate how much Ted Williams was disliked all around baseball in the 1940s. It wasn’t that some writers and fans merely disliked him; many writers and fans around the AL absolutely _dispised_ him. It was similar to Albert Belle in the mid/late 90s, when there was simply no way he was going to be voted MVP. TW didn’t start to become a somewhat “beloved” baseball figure until late in his career, and it wasn’t until well after his retirement that he was generally perceived that way. Joe Gordon’s case for the 1942 MVP isn’t… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

Dan, I’m so sorry people don’t get your sarcasm. It’s amazing, and keep it up.

Forrest
Guest

That was an epic troll Dan. +4

Ed
Guest
Here’s a thought….do you think that Trout’s huge lead in WAR actually HURTS his MVP chances? If he was leading by a small margin (say 8.0 vs. 6.6), people might be willing to accept that. But because the margin is so large (10.5 vs. 6.6), people just dismiss it. “Oh that can’t be right”. “Obviously WAR doesn’t make any sense”. Etc. I’m reminded of something Bill James wrote in one of his abstracts about a minor leaguer who hit something like 66 home runs in a single season. James said people couldn’t wrap their heads around it so they just… Read more »
Brettifus
Guest
Ed: I don’t know that it “hurts” Trout’s MVP chances, but I really feel this is an interesting point. I know I’ve wondered about the large margin. WAR suggests that not only is Trout a better player, but that he is a vastly better player (or at least, having a vastly better season). Taking only offensive numbers into account, this just doesn’t seem to be true. Trout has a big lead in SB’s (at a tremendous success rate), but Cabrera has the edge in power (more 2Bs, HRs, TBs, SLG). This appears to suggest that the majority of Trout’s WAR… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest

James was talking about Dick “Dr Strangeglove” Stuart’s 1956 season for single-A Lincoln, when he hit 66 HR in 141 G.

Brent
Guest

He made a somewhat similar point about Vern Stephens 159 RBIs in 1949. The number was so mind boggling, that the voters decided that it wasn’t really that important and eventually the consensus became that Rizzuto, despite inferior numbers, was the better shortstop (for instance that year, Stephens, a shortstop with a 137 OPS+, finished 7th in the MVP voting, behind 3 other Red Sox and 3 Yankees (including Rizzuto who finished 2nd))

Phil
Guest

I haven’t read the posted comments so far, so maybe this has been mentioned, but the one thing I wish everyone would do is wait until the season is finished. Trout’s case has been solid for a while, but there has been some narrowing in the past few weeks. It’s not likely, but if Trout were to go into a tailspin the last 10-12 games, and Cabrera were to pull a ’67 Yaz down the stretch (i.e., off-the-chart hot more than the Triple Crown), then that should be taken into consideration. You never know.

John Autin
Editor
No argument with the thrust, Dan, but the particular points don’t work for me. What’s the point of even a pretend comparison to Hamilton? Because he’s Cabrera’s competitor for HRs & RBI? But if you were seriously talking about those things, you’d need to talk about park factors and team context; Texas scores almost half a run per game more than Detroit. And yes, Miggy’s had more RBI chances, but he’s also hit better with RISP than Josh And if Cabrera has more RBI due to his 13 more games played, so much the better for his MVP case. Playing… Read more »
topper009
Guest
Speaking of park factors, that deserves some discussion here. Cabrera has a 39 point lead in OPS (.991 vs .952), but a 4 point deficit in OPS+ (168 to 164)!? That looks pretty odd to me, I never thought of Anaheim having a notorious pitcher’s park, and if anything thought Detroit was a bit of a pitchers park, at least based on the outfield dimensions. Comerica left to right: [346 402 422 379 330] Angel Stadium left to right: [333 379 404 379 333] The thing that jumps out here is the main problem with park factors, Comerica really needs… Read more »
birtelcom
Editor
The point of the park factors applied in OPS+ abnd ERA+ is NOT to measure the effect of the park on idividual players or individual types of players, such a righties or lefties. Rather it is to adjust the value of a “run” in each differnt park, just the way the value of a “dollar” needs to be adjusted when we talk about the “dollar” in year 1912 as opposed to a “dollar” in the year 2012. Just as a dollar in 2012 buys you fewer eggs than it did in 1912, a run at Coors Field buys you fewer… Read more »
topper009
Guest
Right but now it requires less runs to win in Anaheim because the Angels score less runs there, but why do they score less runs there than on the road compared to just 4 years ago? Is there something about the park that makes it tough on hitters or is their performance just a random fluctuation? Should Trout be given extra credit for producing runs at home when his teammates are relatively struggling to do so, or is he just lucky that he is hitting well at home this year when the rest of his team isnt, thus making his… Read more »
birtelcom
Editor
The Angels’ park factors rely not just on how the Angels hit at home vs. away but also on how the Angels’ opponents hit in Anaheim as opposed to when they play the Angels in thier own parks. And the adjustments are based on multiple years, not just one year, to reduce that chance of random fluctuation. In 2012, the Angels have averaged 3.8 runs a game at home but 5.25 on the road. In 2012, Angels opponents have averaged 4.3 runs in Anaheim but 4.7 runs when playing the Angels in their own home parks. That adds up to… Read more »
topper009
Guest
Right but you skipped 2009, where the multi-year park factor is 99. So, forget the numbers, why does it makes sense that Angel Stadium was a neutral park 4 years ago but is now a pitcher’s park? Why should I accept that as true? What are the constants and what are the variables involved in coming to this outcome? It appears to me that the stadium is a constant, it is literally the exact same in both seasons. It seems to me the variable is the Angel’s home/road splits, and if that change is not a function of the stadium… Read more »
Joseph
Guest

Certainly, a player who can’t refrain from overdosing on energy drinks is not the most valuable.

Trout can’t win because he’s clearly not human. Plus, he’s too young. I believe you must be a human player over 21 to win.

More seriously, based on past history, Trout’s team’s likely non-post season qualifying place finish is likely to hurt him, no?

John Autin
Editor
I haven’t said much on the “Triple Crown = MVP” topic — mainly because I think it’s self-evident that Trout is the best and most valuable player, but also because I’d been deliberately ignoring the tortured “arguments” that TC should equal MVP. Now that I’ve accidentally read one — honestly, I never dreamed that Tyler Kepner could take this path, and had I known I probably would have skipped it — I better understand how Dan and others have been driven to facetious retorts. I can’t stop rolling my eyes at the twisted logic, and the failure to follow the… Read more »
birtelcom
Editor
If you are going to read one article on Trout vs. Cabrera, here’s a good choice, by the country’s greatest active sportswriter. http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/2012/09/trout-miggy-and-mvp.html When I read Kepner’s article in the paper, that tautological spiel about what the Triple Crown “means” struck me as sort of a wink to the more stat-savvy readers to say, yeah, I get that the TC just means leadership in three narrow and somewhat arbitrary stat categories among many. But given that the rest of the disucssion of Trout vs. Miggy throws stats under the bus in favor of a maudlin view of the Triple Crown… Read more »
Chad
Guest

Last year, I remember getting into discussions about Verlanders Fip and xFip, and how they essentially reflected that he got extremely lucky, and that he basically got better results than he deserved. Well, this year Trout had a .383 Babip while Cabrera had a .331 Babip. Of course, some of Trout’s advantage there is due to his speed. My question, though, is this: Do bWar or fWar take Babip into consideration in any way?

wpDiscuz