Tuesday, 1 October 2013
There aren't nearly enough opinions on this MVP debate, I'll throw mine into the ring.
To start, I think that Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball. One would be hard-pressed to argue that. He slugs the ball like very nearly no one else, and gets on base at a staggering pace via both walks and immensely impressive command of both his bat and plate discipline. And he seems to do it with relative ease. But there's plenty more to baseball, all of which is just as important as what a player does with the bat in his hands. Not nearly enough attention is paid to this, and so instead the award for "best player" turns into some warped award for "hitter who most often appears in headlines" or "hitter whose team made it deep in the playoffs". Those last two scenarios are totally ridiculous, and yet occur all the time. To better attack this argument, i'll break everything down into subheadings.
The Triple Crown Factor
With how far we've come incorporating advanced metrics and stats into the game, I'm puzzled as to why the Triple Crown still holds as much relevance as it apparently does, in its unmodified, archaic state.
Batting Average, while nice, is not as useful as On Base Percentage (henceforth referred to in its abbreviated state). Someone who doesn't ever walk could hit .330 and have a poor OBP, which is more important than whatever his batting average is.
Home Runs, are awesome. There's not much to be talked about here. Hitting home runs are always useful and admittedly a highly sought after commodity.
RBI, are a sticky topic. All of national media's dinosaur writers will praise the RBI stat as a greatt tool for measuring run production and how many runs a player generates. What they fail to recognize is how a players chances at an RBI are drectly determined by the players hitting in front of him. If you don't have a quality group batting in front of you, you aren't going to get as many opportunities at an RBI. This ruins the legitimacy of the RBI used for the aforementioned purpose. Many other metrics do a better job.
The Triple Crown shouldn't count for a thing in its current state. It means very little in today's modern era baseball. As far as i'm concerned, the fact that Cabrera has "two thirds of the Triple Crown locked down" means absolutely nothing.
We know that Mike Trout is no slouch defensively. Even on a down year from his fantastic 2012 campaign, he is still putting up above average numbers in the field, and certainly not costing anyone any games with his play. He's saved -8 runs this season - which isn't fantastic - putting him at just about the middle of the pack for AL outfielders. The highest is 25 and the lowest is -20.
Miguel Cabrera has saved the fewest runs of any AL third baseman to log any amount of time at the position this season. If you count NL third baseman, he's second to last after Michael Young. His range and athleticism at the position are nonexistent, and really only a liability.
All year long you'll hear and read about some extraordinary defensive plays and how these defensive players are helping their teams. Come MVP voting time, it's like these things just don't matter anymore. They just bring up the default offensive stats, have a quick skim and make a choice. That's sad, because defense is so important to teams, that some of them are willing to employ hitters who are an obvious liability at the plate, simply for their defensive prowess. Can you imagine that, BBWAA?
Mike Trout is fast, and Miguel Cabrera isn't. Done. But, for the sake of detail I'll digress.
Trout has stolen 33 bases this season, while his speed has undoubtedly led to him taking extra bases where slower runners couldn't, and beating out infield hits that others simply aren't fast enough to. This obviously also applies to his ability to get to balls in the field. Fangraphs' baserunning metric gives him an 8.1, 5th highest in MLB.
Cabrera is not a quick runner, and his situation essentially directly contrasts Trout's. He has 3 stolen bases, and Fangraphs credits him with a -4.3 baserunning score.
What It All Means
Miggy is having the best offensive season of his career, and his production totals can't be matched by anyone in MLB, let alone just the American League. The fact is, that's where his value stops. He can produce runs like no other, but basically nothing else - and his albeit impressive offensive output is NOT enough to outweigh what others (Ex. Trout) have done on all sides of the ball, including an immensely impressive season at the plate of their own. The kind of season Miguel Cabrera is having perfectly fits the criteria for just one award - the Silver Slugger. You know, the award concerning specifically and only hitting.
Monday, 30 September 2013
A few years ago I was having a... "spirited" discussion with a teammate of mine regarding Buster Posey and his eventual impact on the Giants. We agreed that he was going be tremendously good and that he'd maintain his great start to the 2010 campaign. Shortly thereafter the conversation derailed. He, a Blue Jays fan, directly compared him to JP Arencibia, who was then at 'AAA' Las Vegas tearing up the Pacific Coast League. He insisted that Arencibia was going to be a better all around player than Posey, and his 'AAA' numbers were "proof" of that (they weren't). I wasn't having any of that, and kindly left the discussion with a "we'll see". Now we've had plenty of time to "see".
A typical 84 mile per hour fastball, and it was all over for Barry Zito.
The crowd erupted as Barry Zito strode from the bullpen to the pitchers mound; the Culmination of 7 years worth of reputation building as the classiest player in the organization. For the first time in his life, he came in as a lefty specialist with the objective of retiring just one batter - longtime friend and former teammate on the Oakland A's, Mark Kotsay. One man at the end of his tenure with a team whose fanbase embraced him, despite all his shortcomings after signing a contract nearly nobody could live up to. Another, at the end of his career as a whole after 17 years - 3 of which he spent playing with the man he now opposed out on the mound.