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Monday, October 1, 2012
Another post about the AL MVP race

By David Schoenfield

Is there really anything new to say about the most controversial debate in baseball since the Oakland Athletics first soiled the national pastime by allowing their players to grow whiskers?

Probably not. So let's do a few links. Jeff Passan, national baseball writer for Yahoo, has an analysis of the debate here. Among the highlights:

And ...

And ...

Passan refers to Tyler Kepner's column in The New York Times. Kepner writes:

As Passan points out, Kepner than proceeds to suggest that in the "absence of a truly historic season," then Trout is the more worthy MVP candidate. It does seem weird to base an MVP ballot on whether Cabrera ends up with one fewer home run than Josh Hamilton. So, if Evan Scribner serves up a home run to Hamilton this week, that may decide the MVP race?

In this piece, Joe Posnanski writes:
There are two ways to look at the Cabrera versus Trout debate, when it comes to Cabrera's candidacy. One is that it's all about the Triple Crown achievement, as Kepner wrote. But two, it's about a storyline that has developed, the sense that Cabrera has somehow carried the Tigers while Trout hasn't done the same for the Angels. Why that storyline has developed, when Cabrera has had Verlander and Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer helping out, I'm not exactly sure. I mean, Fielder has had a better year at the plate than Albert Pujols; heck, Jackson has an .859 OPS, nearly the same as Pujols' .869. I suspect it has to do with the Triple Crown, but also about the RBIs. Fans, players and managers obsess over RBIs.

As for Verlander and Cabrera, check out these comparisons:

Justin Verlander, 2011: 251 IP, 174 H, 24 HR, 57 BB, 250 SO, 2.40 ERA
Justin Verlander, 2012: 238.1 IP, 192 H, 19 HR, 60 BB, 239 SO, 2.64 ERA

Miguel Cabrera, 2011: 161 G, .344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 149 runs created, 405 outs
Miguel Cabrera, 2012: 158 G, .325/.390/.601, 43 HR, 135 runs created, 448 outs

Of course, I left out two statistics: Verlander's W-L record and Cabrera's RBI count. Cabrera was arguably more valuable at the plate in 2011, due to a higher on-base percentage. He created more runs while using fewer outs. This season, Tigers' leadoff hitters have a .366 on-base percentage; a year ago it was .311. Like Verlander's W-L record, Cabrera's RBI total is a team dependent statistic.

Finally, from Buster Olney's Insider blog over the weekend:

Quote from one player about Cabrera in Olney's piece: "He's the best, and he's out there every day. He's really tough, and I don't think you can put into numbers what he means to that team."

Quote from an executive about Trout: "Why is there even a conversation?"

Anyway, at this point, I don't think either side will be convinced and I wrote more on this than I intended. The lines in the sand have been drawn. Which side you got?