The results will be announced later today, but the AL MVP race is still a contentious issue
The "new" wave of saber-oriented analysts lean heavily towards Mike Trout as their MVP candidate, citing things like Trout's peripheral numbers that rival and even surpass Cabrera's in many ways.
Joe Posnanski, one of the greatest baseball writers of our time, broke it down by incorporating many different metrics and looking at the "big picture," so to speak.
Posnanski began with an interesting anecdote about another Triple Crown winner, Ted Williams in 1942, who lost the MVP to a far inferior player who was viewed as a better leader with more "intangibles."
Back then, it was the "progressive" analysts that were firmly in the Williams camp, but it was to no avail. It wasn't the only time Williams lost out on an MVP award due to what appears to be nothing short of media bias.
Now, the progressive people are the ones voting AGAINST the Triple Crown winner, and going with a guy who filled the stat sheet in many other ways.
The MVP finalists this year in the American League are Trout, Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, and Robinson Cano. Make no mistake, however, this is a 2-man race. The question is not about which of the 5 to choose. It's whether to pick Trout or Cabrera.
Based on Bill James' formula, Mike Trout is significantly ahead of Cabrera as an overall MVP candidate. Trout is responsible for 173 total runs, compared to only 150 for Cabrera.
At first glance, most people would assume that Cabrera had a solid edge offensively, and that Trout's baserunning and defense closed the gap and helped him surpass Cabrera.
In reality, the offensive gap was a lot smaller than people think. According to James' formula, Cabrera was responsible for 131 runs, and Trout was responsible for 126. That's not much of a difference at all, especially when you consider the fact that Cabrera played in 22 more games than Trout.
The defensive numbers are where the real disparity lies. Trout saved 21 runs, while Cabrera's defense actually cost the Tigers 4 runs, according to James' formula.
The last two categories that Posnanski mentions are baserunning and position value. Since Trout's league-leading 49 stolen bases are included in the offensive category, this really only includes baserunning while the ball is in play. Trout was worth 4 runs, while Cabrera was worth 0. In terms of position, James' formula places slightly more value on 3B in general, so Cabrera gains 1 run on Trout.
When you put it all together, Trout is the clearly more valuable player. Virtually every WAR metric available supports this. Yes, Cabrera won the Triple Crown. But Trout's statistics across the board were great as well, and he created more total runs than Cabrera while making fewer outs.
Still, it's highly likely that Cabrera will win the MVP. In fact, I'd be shocked if he doesn't.
Despite the immense progress that we've made in statistical analysis, there's still a huge premium placed on certain statistics above all others, despite the fact that they're really not the great gauge of performance that people believe them to be. RBI, for example, is an extremely flawed stat, and depends as much on teammates and situations as it does on the player credited with them. Batting average is a nice stat, but there are a lot of other productive things that someone can do with an at bat that can't be measured in terms of simply a hit or an out.
Check back later this evening to find the MVP voting results here on FanIQ.
Source: Value Added [Posnanski]