Monday, September 23, 2013
The MVP case for Mike Trout
By David Schoenfield
We're making the MVP cases today for the five top AL contenders. Here's the case for Mike Trout, and here are the previous arguments for Chris Davis, Josh Donaldson and Robinson Cano.
1. Trout is the best all-around player in baseball. Period.
2. All the talk about how to define most valuable is just silly. By definition, the best player is the most valuable player. If you were to poll all the general managers and asked, "Which player's 2013 season would you most want on your team?" Trout wins easily.
3. OK, some numbers. Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement: Trout 9.1, Donaldson 8.1, Cano 7.4, Miguel Cabrera 7.3, Davis 6.1. FanGraphs WAR: Trout 10.2, Donaldson 7.7, Cabrera 7.7, Davis 6.4, Cano 6.0. It's closer than last year between Trout and Cabrera, but even if WAR isn't perfect, it's difficult to argue against margins of 1.8 wins and 2.5 wins.
4. Trout is hitting .325/.433/.562. Trout easily trumps the other three at the plate in terms of on-base percentage and Cabrera's advantage over Trout at the plate is not as large you as may believe. In terms of wOBA (which is not park-adjusted), Cabrera leads .454 to .424 (they're 1-2 in the majors). Yes, Cabrera has 18 more home runs and four more singles, but Trout has 13 more doubles and eight more triples. Trout has 15 more walks and leads in steals, 33 to 3. In terms of estimated runs created, Cabrera is at 154, Trout is at 151.
5. Once you adjust for parks and position, you could argue that Trout has been the more valuable offensive player. In terms of offensive WAR, Trout leads Cabrera 9.9 to 9.0 at Baseball-Reference. At FanGraphs, Trout leads Cabrera, 69 runs created above average to 64.
6. Hey, sorry Tigers, fans, but the whole season counts and Cabrera has one home run and one double over his past 20 games.
7. Defense and speed matter. Trout actually doesn't rate that well this year in Defensive Runs Saved at -8 (FanGraphs likes his defense a little better, thus the higher WAR on their site), but at least he plays a prime position in center field. Cabrera and Davis don't offer anything in the defense and speed department and Cabrera has no range at third base even if he does catch what he gets to.
8. Trout has hit .328/.460/.550 with runners in scoring position. He's close to 100 RBIs (92) even though he's hit just 44 times in the No. 3 slot, the rest first or second.
9. You can argue Trout is more feared than Cabrera. (Or gets fewer pitches to hit due to a lack of lineup protection.) For example, in late and close situations, Trout has walked 23 percent of his plate appearances. Cabrera has walked 18 percent of his.
10. Trout's teammates are worse. Why should he be denied the MVP Award because the Angels had Joe Blanton and Jerome Williams in their rotation instead of Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez?