Monday, September 23, 2013
The MVP case for Miguel Cabrera
By David Schoenfield
We're making the MVP cases today for the five top AL contenders. Here's the case for Miguel Cabrera, and here are the previous arguments for Mike Trout, Chris Davis, Josh Donaldson and Robinson Cano.
2. Cabrera is having a historic offensive season -- even more impressive than his Triple Crown year last season. He leads the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and RBIs. His OBP is 52 points higher than last year and his slugging percentage is 41 points higher. If he was the easy MVP winner last year, it's an even easier choice this year.
3. Cabrera's wRC+ (a park-adjusted offensive metric from FanGraphs) is 195, tied for 17th-highest since 1950. Since George Brett in 1980, the only players with a better figure are Barry Bonds (2001 to 2004), Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas in the strike-shortened 1994 season, Mark McGwire in 1998, Bonds in 1992 and Mike Schmidt in the strike-shortened 1981 season. So, yeah, he's good with the bat.
4. Cabrera's offensive totals clearly surpass Davis and he plays a more important defensive position. No, he's not a Gold Glover, but he's made just 12 errors.
5. Trout, Davis and Cano are going to be watching Cabrera on television in the postseason. Trout didn't even have to play in the pressure of a pennant race. Yes, Cabrera has slowed down the past few weeks with his injury problems, but the Tigers had already wrapped up the division title by late August. Plus, his OBP is still over .400 in September.
6. Cabrera is hitting .401/.535/.796 with runners in scoring position. Not a misprint. His walk rate, 14 percent overall, jumps to 22 percent with RISP. So he has all those RBIs even though he often gets pitched around in those situations.
7. With two outs and runners in scoring position, the numbers jump to an insane .459/.612/.934 in 84 plate appearances.
8. WAR is nice and all, but it doesn't factor in the timing of those hits as shown above. Trout has hit a fine .328 with runners in scoring position, but that's not close to Cabrera. Plus, Trout hits his best when the game is out of reach -- when the score is greater than four runs, he's hit .466, so he pads his stats a bit in blowouts. Cabrera, by contrast, has hit just .250 when the margin is greater than four runs.
9. Against the Indians, the Tigers' main competition for the AL Central title, Cabrera hit .317 with 20 RBIs in 17 games.
10. Yes, Comerica is a good hitter's park, but it's not necessarily a good home run park. Cabrera has hit 27 of his 44 home runs on the road. Imagine if he got to play half his games at Camden Yards like Davis. The Triple Crown may have been a lock.