Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

After huge game, Miguel Cabrera a legitimate triple-crown threat

Time to bury the Yaz culture?

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera just went 3-for-4 with two homers, a double, six RBI and three runs in a big Tigers win over the A’s, 12-2. The big blow as far as Cabrera’s individual stat line is concerned was a grand slam in the eighth. That blast put him in a pretty good position to lead the AL in batting average, home runs and RBI—a.k.a. the AL Triple Crown. If he did win it, Cabrera would become the first player to win his league’s Triple Crown since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrezemski did so in 1967.

Cabrera is now hitting .333, leading the AL. In second place is Angels center fielder Mike Trout entered Tuesday night’s late game with a .329 batting average.

After the six RBI Tuesday, Cabrera now has 129 RBI. Hamilton enters his late game with 123, putting him in second place.

Cabrera’s two-bomb night gives him 40 homers, which trails Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton by two. Also of note for Cabrera on an individual level, his 39th homer marked a career high and he’s now (obviously) reached 40 homers for the first time in his already-stellar career.

Repoz Posted: September 18, 2012 at 10:31 PM | 87 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tigers

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Buzzkill Posted: September 18, 2012 at 10:41 PM (#4239727)
Bury the Yaz culture? Blasphemy. It won't happen.
   2. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 18, 2012 at 10:48 PM (#4239732)
I hope the bus doesn't hit him until after he passes Hamilton in HR. :) (See previous threads.)

Seriously, this guy is a monster. The best hitter the Tigers have had since Hank Greenberg.
   3. GregD Posted: September 18, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4239743)
Could easily win the triple crown and still not be as good as he was last year. A great player. But he's such a great all-around player that he may age gracefully and yet not have eye-popping career numbers. Good enough for the HOF but not smashing up leaderboards.
   4. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM (#4239756)
But he's such a great all-around player that he may age gracefully and yet not have eye-popping career numbers. Good enough for the HOF but not smashing up leaderboards.

Who knows where his career numbers will end up, and unfortunately they will be diminished by the inflated numbers of the steroid era, but if we want to look at season leaderboards:

If the season ended today, Cabrera would win his second batting title, his second RBI title, and his second total base title, plus his first SLG and OPS titles. He's already won two OBP titles, and one each of 2B, HR, and OPS+.

He's also finished second in AVG (twice), SLG (twice), OPS (twice), runs, hits (twice counting this year), total bases, walks, OPS+ (twice counting this year) and offensive WAR (twice counting this year).

Bill James' HOF measures have him at 26 in Black Ink (average HOFer is 27) and 171 in Gray Ink (average HOFer is 144).

These are the active hitters with more Black Ink than Cabrera:

Albert Pujols
Alex Rodriguez
Ichiro Suzuki

That's it! For Gray Ink, he's third behind only Pujols and A-Rod. And the dude's 29 years old.

There are 14 teams in the AL, 16 in the NL. It's hard to lead the league in anything these days and he does it with (relatively) stunning regularity.
   5. GregD Posted: September 18, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4239757)
That's the right way to look at it, #4. I was just interested in the fact that he could age gracefully and still wind up with 2700 hits and 470 HRs, numbers that are great but may not capture how great he's been.
   6. Carlo Paz Posted: September 18, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4239758)
I was at the Sox-Tigers game yesterday sitting on the third base side. It really struck me that Cabrera seemed to be having a blast out there. Constantly jawing back and forth with everyone. Playing around. Goofing with base runners, yelling into the Sox dugout. It was fun to watch.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 18, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4239765)
The best hitter the Tigers have had since Hank Greenberg.


And like Greenberg, Cabrera moved off first base to another defensive position so that the Tigers could get another big bat into the lineup.
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:00 AM (#4239774)
That's the right way to look at it, #4. I was just interested in the fact that he could age gracefully and still wind up with 2700 hits and 470 HRs, numbers that are great but may not capture how great he's been.

Those would likely be HOF-worthy totals in a non-sillyball era like we're in now. That said, if he ages gracefully he's going to finish substantially above 470 home runs. 470 would mean he averages ~30 a year and then he's done at age 34. Another way to think about it is that if Cabrera does what Vlad did from ages 30+ he'll beat those numbers, and I don't think of Vlad as someone who aged particularly gracefully.

Anyway, Cabrera is a monster at the plate. I'm proud to have been the first sponsor of his bb-ref page back in 2003 (for $10; now it's $840).
   9. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4239782)
Crazy to think Trout is still like four up on Cabrera in WAR. I get all the Tigers games, so I've seen a ton of Cabrera in the last few years. He makes hitting look so effortless. Even though Detroit has disappointed a lot of its fans so far, I hope Tigers fans don't take for granted that they're getting to regularly watch one of the best hitters and one of the best starting pitchers the game has seen in a while.
   10. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:33 AM (#4239788)
Miguel Cabrera has also been really durable. He has played in at least 157 games in every full season of his career except for one, and he played 150 games in that season. I would not be surprised if he made a run at 2000 career RBI.
   11. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 19, 2012 at 01:33 AM (#4239806)
Crazy to think Trout is still like four up on Cabrera in WAR.

This makes me doubt the accuracy of WAR. I mean, I understand the difference in Trout and Cabrera as players, and I begrudgingly (I'm a Tiger fan) agree with the consensus that Trout has been more "valuable" this year. But THAT much more valuable?

Trout's having an absolutely incredible season. He's a fantastic base-stealer (Cabrera isn't) and he's a fantastic defensive center fielder (Cabrera isn't), PLUS he's probably gonna hit 30 HR. But by most hitting standards -- including the often ignored but very important "games played" -- Cabrera has been better. I simply can't believe the gap between them is that big, based solely on baserunning and defense. Offense and defense should both be half of the game, but isn't most of "defense" actually pitching? How many balls are hit to Trout and Cabrera each game that aren't routine?

And if the Angels had asked Trout to move to 3B in March, do you think he would be as good as Cabrera has been? (I know, it's an unfair question, but if you're going to knock Cabrera for his defense -- as WAR does -- you really should give him extra credit for "doing whatever he's asked.")

I was at the Sox-Tigers game yesterday sitting on the third base side. It really struck me that Cabrera seemed to be having a blast out there. Constantly jawing back and forth with everyone. Playing around. Goofing with base runners, yelling into the Sox dugout. It was fun to watch.

Cabrera really, really likes playing with Fielder, and vice versa. The bro-love between them is beautiful to see. Cabrera seems to be popular with all of his teammates and it's good to see him visibly enjoying the game. As a younger player, I think he sometimes seemed over-serious or sullen.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: September 19, 2012 at 01:48 AM (#4239811)
If he wins the Triple Crown and/or the MVP that's obviously something that helps him in the "hit by bus" sweepstakes.

I'm not sure folks understand the point behind black and gray ink. They were developed by James a long time ago as a predictor of eventual HoF induction. Yes, it's harder to get black/gray ink these days -- but why would you assume the voters will take that into consideration? If James's model still holds, then modern hitters are screwed if it's harder for them to get black ink; if James's model no longer holds, then we need to re-establish the utility of black ink (and the weights to assign) so we don't know what value the current measures have. For now, it's still probably a decent measure of "perceived dominance". But it's quite possible that black/gray ink doesn't matter anymore for HoF or that 26 points of black ink is the equivalent of 40 points before. Back when James did his study, there weren't many expansion era players in the pool (if any).

If anything, the "raw" standards for hitters seem to be going up, not down, in the face of there being more teams. That may be even more true for non-closer pitchers although that's hard to tell because we haven't had good starter candidates in quite a while. It will be interesting to see how easy/hard a time Mussina (and Schilling and maybe Smoltz but Smoltz has the CYA and the saves) have of it but being one of the best pitchers in an expanded league clearly wasn't enough for Brown (who had other baggage too) nor (by the BBWAA) Bunning.

And this point seems to have to be raised a lot -- the average HoFer is roughly a borderline BBWAA selection. The HoF is chock-full of VC selections which pulls the averages down a lot. The average HoFer of course also includes middle infielders, Cs, etc. -- i.e. guys with very little black ink who pull the average down. For example, Roberto Alomar had just 3 points of black ink. The average corner player BBWAA inductee will have a lot more black ink than the average HoFer -- Jim Rice has 33 but Tony Perez has 0 (still can't believe he made it); Ryan Howard has 21. I will grant you that with the BBWAA electing Rice, Perez, Puckett and maybe Morris while also rejecting some equally good or better candidates, it's very hard to tell where the BBWAA border is these days. A good storyline (triple crown!) or a "faction" backing Cabrera could push him over today.

Still Tony Oliva, a hit by bus candidate, had 41 black ink. Albert Belle, another one, had 28. Dick Allen had 27. Dave Parker had 26. George Foster had 26. Cecil Fielder 24 (he was the bus). Mattingly (another classic hbb candidate) had 23. Galarraga has 21. Juan Pierre has 21! Edgar has 20. There are reasons to think Cabrera as hbb would do better than those guys but I wouldn't count on him doing well enough. (Note, Edgar as a hbb candidate would have gone nowhere.) Now, some of those guys might well eventually make it in via VC (Oliva is often suggested, I expect Mattingly to get at least a Gil Hodges type push, Parker's not out of the question) which would count as a success under James's old model.

All #4 really says is that Cabrera has been one of the best hitters of the last decade and that he is on an HoF track. Nobody disagrees with that. The debate was whether that alone is enough to get you into the HoF and the answer to that is (almost always) no unless you absolutely dominate. 26 points of black ink (which is already counting his 2012 -- shame on you b-r) does not meet the historic HoF definition of dominance.

By the way, leading the league in OBP scores you 0 points in black ink which is why I didn't consider it in one of my earlier Cabrera posts. OPS, OPS+, etc. score 0 as well. Total bases scores you zero. I am surprised to learn that leading the league in walks will score you 2 points. The triple crown categories are your biggies (4 points each) and, for Cabrera, slugging counts as 3 points.

Cabrera is up for 11 points this year but he holds just a 1 point lead in BA, a 9 point lead in SLG (a little more than 1 HR) and is tied for the RBI lead. He could easily end up with zero black ink this year. If he scores 0 black ink, Cabrera will be back behind Dante Bichette in black ink. :-)

Somebody mentioned Vlad. Vlad's 30s were actually pretty good because he was pretty durable. Those 7 seasons had nearly 4200 PA and at a 129 OPS+. That makes Cabrera an absolute shoo-in as would (as I've said) Ken Griffey's 30-40 which is pretty similar to Vlad's 30-36. The major risk to Cabrera's future HoF candidacy is that he gets "hit by a bus" (i.e. can't stay on the field). Orlando Cepeda (3000 PA of roughly average 1Bishness) is enough to make him at least borderline. Even Albert Belle's 30s might be enough. It's Mattingly and Oliva (post-injury) and Nomar (not a great comp) that are the cautionary tales.

By the way, if somebody wants to argue that Orlando Cepeda's 30s don't really add anything to Cabrera's HoF case so he _should_ go in if his career ended today -- I see your point and it's a reasonable one but take it up with the BBWAA. I just can't see them ever again electing a (mostly) 1B/LF with 315 HR. His BA can afford to take a hit but I think he (and any corner player) has to get to a min of about 450 HR and 1500 RBI to get serious consideration (or win a triple crown or an MVP or two). That's gonna take about 2000 PA of being Cabrera or about 2000 PA of being Ryan Howard or something like 2500-3000 PA of being Adam LaRoche (I always like to pull him out as my mediocre 1B).

Hopefully we'll never find out who's right on this question and Cabrera will continue to be Cabrera for another several years.
   13. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 19, 2012 at 02:28 AM (#4239819)
Cabrera is up for 11 points this year but he holds just a 1 point lead in BA, a 9 point lead in SLG (a little more than 1 HR) and is tied for the RBI lead.

Walt, I think you missed tonight's games. Cabrera had 6 RBI tonight, Hamilton had 0. :-)

It's extremely difficult to tell what the BBWAA would do with Cabrera in a literal hit-by-a-bus situation (and all that such an abrupt, tragic ending entails), as you and I both mentioned in the previous thread, because there really isn't a precedent. Puckett comes close, and he got into the Hall on the first ballot, but he played an extra two years to get that hit total up, and was also extremely popular.

I think quite literally no one who started his career with 10 years as consistent* and as excellent as Cabrera's stopped playing after the 10th year. There haven't been many such players in the first place, and the majority went on to long, excellent careers before heading to the Hall of Fame. A few petered out in their 30s but generally still remained borderline Hall of Famers, or at least in the discussion. (I'll put Vlad in there and maybe Oliva, but I should point out that after 10 calendar seasons -- 8 full seasons -- Oliva only had 1462 hits and 177 HR. That's not nearly as strong a HOF case as Cabrera's after 10 years (~1800 hits, ~320 HR), and in Oliva's 11th year he got hurt and played 10 games. After that, he wasn't the same player and it was pretty clear he never would be. In other words, Oliva was not a bus-hit HOFer after his first 10 years, and starting from his 11th the perception of him as a HOFer dimmed considerably.)

(* I mention "consistent" because I think it is important in assessing short careers. There's always going to be some "what-if" credit applied when a star leaves early, and when a guy rolls up season after season of 157 games played with uniformly excellent numbers, like Cabrera, the voters have more confidence that he would have stayed healthy and productive, were it not for the bus/war/asteroid. If his 10th season ended after 30 games and a back injury, that would allow more doubt to creep in.)
   14. shoewizard Posted: September 19, 2012 at 02:53 AM (#4239823)
Cecil Fielder 24 (he was the bus)


I chuckled out loud.
   15. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: September 19, 2012 at 02:58 AM (#4239824)
I think quite literally no one who started his career with 10 years as consistent* and as excellent as Cabrera's stopped playing after the 10th year.


Ralph Kiner? Jackie Robinson?
   16. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 19, 2012 at 03:01 AM (#4239825)
For those of you who don't believe Cabrera is a "hit-by-a-bus" candidate right now, do you think that Albert Pujols was a "hit-by-a-bus" lock after his first 10 years? Holy crap: 1900 hits, 408 HR, .331/.426/.624, 172 OPS+, 78.8 WAR, 9 All-Star Games, 3 MVPs.

If you believe that he was (and if he wasn't, nobody was), then where's the dividing line? How far away is Cabrera?

They are obviously very similar and comparable players -- both played LF/3B/1B, both came up young and were good right away, and their eras almost completely overlap -- and Pujols was just as obviously superior over their first ten years. But by how much?
   17. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 19, 2012 at 03:28 AM (#4239828)
I think quite literally no one who started his career with 10 years as consistent* and as excellent as Cabrera's stopped playing after the 10th year.

Ralph Kiner? Jackie Robinson?


Kiner batted .279, had 1451 hits, was mediocre in his 10th year and nothing special in his 9th. In my opinion, Cabrera has been more "excellent," and he has surely been more consistent in the sense of never missing time or having a down year. It's not a terrible comp, and Walt raised it a couple of times, but Kiner and Cabrera were not really similar players in terms of how they produced their value. Kiner still got into the HOF, though it took a while.

Robinson was a totally different type of excellent (I was actually referring to "hitting" but didn't make that clear) and played in a totally different context, but, again, his 9th and 10th seasons were pretty blah, he averaged just 120 games in his last four seasons, and his counting totals trail Cabrera in everything but stolen bases, walks and triples. (Cabrera passed him in runs a few days ago.) If you look at WAR, Robinson was amazing, but by traditional baseball stats, he wasn't as "excellent" as Cabrera and, again, definitely wasn't as consistent. Robinson was a first-ballot HOFer, and very possibly would be a HOFer even without the integration/pioneer story.
   18. shoewizard Posted: September 19, 2012 at 03:52 AM (#4239835)
I think I regret posing the question the way I did yesterday.

My bullet points on this are:

1.) If his career ended tomorrow, he is borderline. The peak is just about high enough, but need a little more, in lieu of defense and baserunning value.

2.) I believe that sometimes the modern metrics that most of us adhere to may undervalue a little bit guys that consistently have high batting avg and high rbi totals. Too much backlash against those types because in the traditional past they tended to be overrated. Would I rather have Miguel Cabrera or Jim Thome's career through age 29, ( Thome had 144 OPS+ in 4400 PA or 152 OPS+ through first 6400 PA's, but had his best two seasons at age 30-31 )

Through age 29 it's easily Cabrera for me, if first 6400 PA's, it's a push if you ignore age.

3.) The odds favor him ending up over 450 HR, 1600 RBI and .300 BA , .920 OPS. He will probably end up with close to as much time at 3rd as any other position.

Then again the guy that he looks most like statistically among guys that player both 3rd and 1st is Dick Allen

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2012, Played 30% of games at 1B and 3B, (requiring At least 6000 plate appearances), sorted by greatest Adjusted OPS+

Rk             Player OPS+    PA   Age    G   AB    R    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1          Dick Allen  156  7315 21
-35 1749 6332 1099 1848 320 79 351 1119  894 1556 .292 .378 .534 .912
2      Miguel Cabrera  151  6408 20
-29 1496 5604  949 1783 383 13 315 1107  703 1097 .318 .395 .560 .955
3    Harmon Killebrew  143  9833 18
-39 2435 8147 1283 2086 290 24 573 1584 1559 1699 .256 .376 .509 .884
4       Darrell Evans  119 10737 22
-42 2687 8973 1344 2223 329 36 414 1354 1605 1410 .248 .361 .431 .792
5         Enos Cabell   93  6304 22
-36 1688 5952  753 1647 263 56  60  596  259  691 .277 .308 .370 .678 
   19. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 19, 2012 at 04:27 AM (#4239838)
Never mind
   20. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: September 19, 2012 at 05:22 AM (#4239839)
"26 points of black ink (which is already counting his 2012 -- shame on you b-r)"

hey, if the world got hbb, b-r got it right
   21. zack Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4239898)


This makes me doubt the accuracy of WAR. I mean, I understand the difference in Trout and Cabrera as players, and I begrudgingly (I'm a Tiger fan) agree with the consensus that Trout has been more "valuable" this year. But THAT much more valuable?


Someone says this every time a great hitter is beaten in WAR. I don't know if there's really a 4-win gap, but Mike Trout is exactly the type of player a framework like WAR was designed to expose the greatness of, and Miguel Cabrera is exactly the type of player that WAR would diminish the greatness of. The whole point is that it tries to add-up all the little things in the same units, so we can see the "total package", whereas with Cabrera his entire value is easy to see just in BA/OBP/SLG.

They are currently seperated by a single point in OPS+. I can see the value of a great centerfielder, one of the fastest people in the game over a plodding, poor third baseman as being 4-wins easily. Anyway, let's look at the difference:
Player  Batting Baserunning DPs   Fielding   Positional Scarcity
Trout       47      10       1        25         
-1
Cabrera     51      0       
-5       -5           1 


Those secondary numbers are high, but Mike Trout is an incredible athlete. He's 46-4 in SB for christ's sake.
   22. McCoy Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:16 AM (#4239901)
Having said that it also quite possible and likely that WAR isn't adding up or accurately measuring all the little things correctly.
   23. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4239905)
I would love to see Cabrera win the triple crown. It's never happened in my lifetime and I was always fascinated by it as a kid. It has always seemed amazing to me that it happened in back to back years in the AL then never happened again.
   24. BDC Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4239909)
A quick bus list centered on Cabrera; there aren't many entire careers very similar to the shape of his right now, of course:

Player           Rfield   PA OPS+     Pos
Elmer Flick          30 6414  149  
*98/47
Hank Greenberg       17 6097  158     
*37
Babe Herman         
-31 6228  141    *937
Jack Fournier       
-31 6033  142 *3/7981
Ralph Kiner         
-40 6256  149   *7/83
Miguel Cabrera      
-60 6413  151  3579/D
Albert Belle        
-63 6676  144    *79D 


Three HOFers, three not, and the dear departed Cabrera. This is tough. Kiner's been mentioned as a quite reasonable HOFer and close comp, but Kiner is also a nice guy and was helped by the "announcer boost" in the voting. Cabrera has some of Belle's negatives (off-field controversy, questions about his work ethic – not about its results, mind you, just about his general sportsmanship). On the whole, some more rings, some more black ink, some more career milestones; all these would make his case sharper. It's edging onto the edge right about this morning :)
   25. Chris Fluit Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4239910)
Player Batting Baserunning DPs Fielding Positional Scarcity
Trout 47 10 1 25 -1
Cabrera 51 0 -5 -5 1


What happened to Reached on Error? That used to be listed as a secondary category, much like "avoided double plays" and was another way of capturing the additional value of players with good speed. Has that been folded into batting or baserunning instead?
   26. Chris Fluit Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4239912)
Kiner was also the Black Ink King, leading his league in home runs for seven straight years. He's a useful comp for the Hall of Merit but not so much for the Hall of Fame. Rightly or wrongly, BBWAA voters aren't likely to consider Cabrera's intermittent black ink to be of the same caliber as Kiner's consecutive string.
   27. JJ1986 Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:41 AM (#4239925)
Wow. Trout's got 15 runs on Cabrera even if his fielding is 0.
   28. John DiFool2 Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4239927)
That's the right way to look at it, #4. I was just interested in the fact that he could age gracefully and still wind up with 2700 hits and 470 HRs, numbers that are great but may not capture how great he's been.


Those would likely be HOF-worthy totals in a non-sillyball era like we're in now.


Everyone is overlooking how the BBWAA will perceive sluggers in the post-steroid era; it is quite possible that they'll keep applying the sillyball standards for quite awhile going forwards, esp. while several of the players from that era (Bonds, McGwire) hang around on the ballot until their 15 years are up. And the next guy who could hit 500 (after Sir Albert) might be Adam Dunn, who won't come within several light years of election even if he does and might sit there as a shining example of the "Aha! 500 home runs still doesn't mean as much as it used to!" mindset.
   29. SOLockwood Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:43 AM (#4239929)
Addie Joss is an obvious "hit by a bus" example -- tubercular meningitis in this case. Ross Youngs is another.
   30. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:59 AM (#4239947)
Has that been folded into batting or baserunning instead?


ROE was folded into batting when they did the major renovation of WAR this past spring. See here.
   31. zack Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4239953)
Having said that it also quite possible and likely that WAR isn't adding up or accurately measuring all the little things correctly.


Sure, and I'm not running an audit. My point is just that "it shows this slugger as worse than this all-rounder" is not a reason to reject WAR, it is the reason WAR exists.

FWIW, fWAR has the gap at a little under 3 in favour of Trout.
   32. DanG Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:06 AM (#4239955)
The best hitter the Tigers have had since Hank Greenberg.
17 times since 1919 a Tiger has had 5 Batting Wins in a season:
Rk            Player BtWins OPS+  PA Year
1     Harry Heilmann   5.52  167 672 1921
2            Ty Cobb   5.30  169 613 1922
3     Harry Heilmann   7.04  194 627 1923
4     Harry Heilmann   5.05  161 664 1925
5     Harry Heilmann   5.97  180 596 1927
6     Hank Greenberg   5.74  170 710 1935
7     Hank Greenberg   6.01  172 701 1937
8     Hank Greenberg   5.45  169 681 1938
9     Hank Greenberg   5.90  171 670 1940
10         Al Kaline   5.06  162 681 1955
11         Norm Cash   8.10  201 673 1961
12         Al Kaline   5.19  176 550 1967
13     Cecil Fielder   5.08  167 673 1990
14   Magglio Ordonez   5.63  166 679 2007
15    Miguel Cabrera   6.10  178 648 2010
16    Miguel Cabrera   6.85  181 688 2011
17    Miguel Cabrera   5.33  169 636 2012 
   33. Shredder Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4239964)
But by most hitting standards -- including the often ignored but very important "games played" -- Cabrera has been better.
Doesn't WAR take playing time into account? And sorry, I'm not sure why Trout should get dinged or why Cabrera should get some sort of extra credit for games played beyond what is reflected in the numbers. Similarly, voters shouldn't project Trout's numbers over those games missed when deciding who to vote for. It's not like Trout was hurt, or missed a bunch of games because he was slumping.
And if the Angels had asked Trout to move to 3B in March, do you think he would be as good as Cabrera has been? (I know, it's an unfair question, but if you're going to knock Cabrera for his defense -- as WAR does -- you really should give him extra credit for "doing whatever he's asked.")
Well, while I know this is a hypothetical, Cabrera went from a corner infield position to a corner infield position. It's a much more difficult position, but it's still fairly similar. And while his defense has been good enough to hold the position down, it hasn't been particularly good.

I'm not an expert on WAR, but my understanding based on what someone said last week is that oWAR is position adjusted. Miggy already gets a bump as replacement level for a third baseman is almost certainly lower than it is for a first baseman (looks like by about 12 runs).

If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, even I'd have a hard time not voting him for the MVP, even though I think Trout has had the better season (unless he stays on his downward trend over the last couple weeks). Triple Crown is just one of those special baseball treasures that we almost never see.
   34. UCCF Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4239979)
If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, even I'd have a hard time not voting him for the MVP, even though I think Trout has had the better season (unless he stays on his downward trend over the last couple weeks). Triple Crown is just one of those special baseball treasures that we almost never see.

Though it's not unprecedented for a player to win the Triple Crown and still not be MVP. But given how long it's been, it's hard for me to imagine him not winning the MVP if he gets there.

Plus, it would be very cool. You'd like to think that Trout will have many, many other opportunities (kind of like Pujols, who took a few years to get his first one).
   35. tshipman Posted: September 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4239990)
If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, even I'd have a hard time not voting him for the MVP, even though I think Trout has had the better season (unless he stays on his downward trend over the last couple weeks). Triple Crown is just one of those special baseball treasures that we almost never see.


Yeah, I have to imagine that if Cabrera were to win the Triple Crown he would most likely be the unanimous MVP. It's just so rare, especially in today's game.

The Trout thing confuses me. It seems literally unbelievable that Trout could be putting up a 10 Win season in 120 games. War is making the claim that Trout in a full season is as good in his rookie year as Babe Ruth was in his best season and better than Bonds was when he hit 73. That makes me very, very skeptical.
   36. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4239994)
Yep, for me, Trout would have to finish ahead of Cabrera in the batting race to win the MVP if Cabrera leads in homers and rbi. No matter what happens from here on out, Trout will end the season as technically the most valuable, but a Triple Crown has to top what Trout's doing. If he had 80+ steals or something I might feel differently, but a lot of the lustre has come off his numbers this month. He's not sitting on .350/.410/.600 anymore.
   37. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4239997)
Joe Mauer might win his 4th batting title yet.
   38. Chris Fluit Posted: September 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4240015)
ROE was folded into batting when they did the major renovation of WAR this past spring. See here.


Thanks, Kiko. I think it makes more sense to include it with avoiding double plays as "reaching base without a hit" but I'm glad that it's in there somewhere. The list of guys who were helped the most does include some of the low average/good speed guys that you expect to get on base that way like Torii Hunter and Ozzie Smith.
   39. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4240056)
My point is just that "it shows this slugger as worse than this all-rounder" is not a reason to reject WAR, it is the reason WAR exists.

If this goes back to my comment, I'm definitely not complaining that "WAR says this slugger is worse than this all-rounder." In fact, I acknowledged that Trout is having a "better" year than Cabrera, precisely because of the things like baserunning, defense, and positional value that WAR exposes. I believe heartily in the concept of WAR. I just have my doubts that the current equation is completely accurate. A scale where Mike Trout is worth 10-something and Miguel Cabrera is worth 6-something just doesn't seem right to me. I mean, Cabrera is closer to Michael Brantley and Jamey Carroll than he is to Trout.

The Trout thing confuses me. It seems literally unbelievable that Trout could be putting up a 10 Win season in 120 games. War is making the claim that Trout in a full season is as good in his rookie year as Babe Ruth was in his best season and better than Bonds was when he hit 73. That makes me very, very skeptical.

Exactly. I have no problem with the evaluation that "Trout has been better/more valuable/worth more wins than Cabrera this year." Trout is no doubt having a fantastic year, but his conventional stats are hardly unprecedented (.327/.396/.558), so a stat that says that Trout is THAT much better than Cabrera makes me suspicious that said stat is either overvaluing the things Trout does well, or undervaluing the things Cabrera does well.

Trout's defense seems great, but he's got 304 putouts and 2 assists this year. At least 5 AL outfielders have more putouts, and dozens of them have more assists. A large percentage of those outs were routine plays. So Trout is making something like 2.5 plays per game, where a run-of-the-mill center fielder might make 2.3. I find it hard to believe that this could lead to almost 4 wins on defense alone. It just seems that something is off balance in the equation.

Again, I'm not talking about the ranking, but the magnitude.
   40. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:09 PM (#4240063)
it seems that the defensive evaluation metrics tend to overstate players at the different ends of the spectrum. rickie weeks isn't a below average defender; he's an awful defender. mike trout isn't a really good centerfielder; he's an otherwordly centerfielder.

i cannot prove it but that is my sense of the metrics for defense. but if a high defensive value is being input into the overall value calculation then it follows that the value is overstated by some degree.

trout has been a better player on a per game basis than cabrera and has played enough games to be more valuable in terms of the season itself.

i get the s8x appeal of the triple crown, but i think it's pretty silly to claim cabrera is more valuable when his value begins and ends in the batters box.

more than silly actually but i am working to mind my manners
   41. JJ1986 Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4240068)
Trout's UZR is only 13, which, if used instead, would take between 1 and 1.5 wins off his WAR
   42. alilisd Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4240071)
The best hitter the Tigers have had since Hank Greenberg.


Yes, but that Kaline guy was pretty good, too.
   43. alilisd Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4240079)
But he's such a great all-around player that he may age gracefully and yet not have eye-popping career numbers.


Great all-around hitter, not so sure he's a great all-around player. He definitely, barring injury as always, will have eye-popping career numbers. Already has as much career black ink as an average HOF. He started young, still hasn't turned 30, and has been exceptionally durable. He'd end with great ratios and great counting stats with just a few more healthy seasons.
   44. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4240084)
Part of the reason Trout's season scores so high is that the park factor for Angel Stadium has been sinking like a stone. It was at 102 for hitters as recently as 2009, but has fallen since then all the way to 92. Combined with the overall reduction in offense, that has changed the offensive standards in a big hurry.

Eight years ago, Vladimir won an MVP in the same park by hitting .337/.391/.598 - basically what Trout has done this year, but with 40 more points of slugging. But Trout has a good ten points of OPS+ over Vlad's MVP season.
   45. PreservedFish Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4240086)
Trout's dWAR number (2.6 in 125 games) is obviously inflated. He's a very good centerfielder, but he's probably not as good as his teammate Peter Bourjos, who had a 1.6 in a full season last year. Devon White topped 2.6 twice, Andruw Jones four times, while Torii Hunter and Mike Cameron and Gary Pettis and Dwayne Murphy and Andrew Dawson and Carlos Beltran never did.

Of course we can rehash the argument over how meaningful this dWAR number is, whether or not it's a reliable indication of what actually happened on the field this year, etc. IMO this is still a "small sample" for a defensive performance, and I take even the large samples with a grain of salt, so I would mentally adjust his WAR number down by at least 1 win.
   46. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4240095)

Those secondary numbers are high, but Mike Trout is an incredible athlete. He's 46-4 in SB for christ's sake.

Right, it's also worth noting that Cabrera leads the league in GDPs, and is 22% ahead of the guy with the next most (28 vs. 23). He's having a great season at the plate but there are things he doesn't do well. I assume this is adjusted for opportunities as Trout has only 7 GDP but bats leadoff.

I was surprised to see how much LF Trout has played this year - to the point where positional scarcity actually accrues to Cabrera's benefit. I had assumed he spent almost all his time in CF.

I'm also surprised that the Rbat is so close when Cabrera has almost 20 games on Trout. But the plate appearance numbers are a lot closer, I'm guessing because Trout bats leadoff and because Cabrera is more often removed for defensive replacements late in games.
   47. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4240098)
Trout's dWAR number (2.6 in 125 games) is obviously inflated. He's a very good centerfielder, but he's probably not as good as his teammate Peter Bourjos, who had a 1.6 in a full season last year. Devon White topped 2.6 twice, Andruw Jones four times, while Torii Hunter and Mike Cameron and Gary Pettis and Dwayne Murphy and Andrew Dawson and Carlos Beltran never did.


Trout has also played 60 games in LF this season. I agree that the number is probably inflated, but a very good CF playing a corner outfield spot should be able to accrue more defensive runs (while simultaneously losing runs in the positional scarcity adjustment). See also, Ichiro.
   48. PreservedFish Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4240106)
Trout has also played 60 games in LF this season. I agree that the number is probably inflated, but a very good CF playing a corner outfield spot should be able to accrue more defensive runs (while simultaneously losing runs in the positional scarcity adjustment). See also, Ichiro.

Neither Ichiro nor Rickey Henderson nor Roberto Clemente ever topped Trout's 2.6. Bonds did, once.
   49. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4240107)
Part of the reason Trout's season scores so high is that the park factor for Angel Stadium has been sinking like a stone. It was at 102 for hitters as recently as 2009, but has fallen since then all the way to 92. Combined with the overall reduction in offense, that has changed the offensive standards in a big hurry.


Are park factors adjusted for quality of the home staff? Dan Haren joined the team in 2010, and since then, he and Weaver have probably represented a good chunk of the innings thrown at Angel Stadium.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 19, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4240110)
Are park factors adjusted for quality of the home staff? Dan Haren joined the team in 2010, and since then, he and Weaver have probably represented a good chunk of the innings thrown at Angel Stadium.

I think they just compare RS by both teams in the park, vs. on the road. If the good pitcher pitched at home more frequently, that could skew it.
   51. Shredder Posted: September 19, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4240122)
He's a very good centerfielder, but he's probably not as good as his teammate Peter Bourjos, who had a 1.6 in a full season last year.
I think he's probably better than Bourjos. I think Bourjos runs better routes, but Trout has more speed off the break, and is generally fast enough to make up for the occasionally poor route. I also think Trout can leap a fair amount higher than Bourjos, which has contributed to four(!) home runs that he's stolen. Bourjos is a terrific defensive player, but after watching the last two years, if I had to choose between the two as an every day CFer, I'd take Trout. In body type and reputation, Bourjos "looks" more like a CFer, and he has terrific top speed.
I think they just compare RS by both teams in the park, vs. on the road. If the good pitcher pitched at home more frequently, that could skew it.
Aren't most park factors that are used in these calculations spread over a few years? So one freakish year would be mitigated by two or three more normal years.
   52. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 19, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4240144)
And if the Angels had asked Trout to move to 3B in March, do you think he would be as good as Cabrera has been? (I know, it's an unfair question, but if you're going to knock Cabrera for his defense -- as WAR does -- you really should give him extra credit for "doing whatever he's asked.")

Well, while I know this is a hypothetical, Cabrera went from a corner infield position to a corner infield position. It's a much more difficult position, but it's still fairly similar. And while his defense has been good enough to hold the position down, it hasn't been particularly good.


The point I was ineffectively trying to make was that Mike Trout is obviously a much better center fielder than Miguel Cabrera would be, but at the same time, Miguel Cabrera is very likely a better third baseman (and maybe a better first baseman) than Mike Trout. It's not completely up to either of them where they play on the field, so it seems a little unjust to penalize someone who is playing "out of position" because his team asked him to, while the other player is put at a position that emphasizes his best assets. If Mike Trout was playing third base for some stupid reason, his WAR would be much lower and he'd be much less "valuable," but it wouldn't be his fault. He'd still be exactly the same player in terms of ability and potential.

In a sense, Cabrera is getting double-penalized for moving to third. First, he's getting dinged by WAR because he's slightly below average at third base. But second, even with the built-in positional adjustment, he's getting penalized for playing at a position that probably isn't optimal for him, because management wants him to. That doesn't mean that WAR is "wrong," but it doesn't convey the full story of Cabrera's season. I consider his ability to play slightly-below-average defense at third a huge asset, even if his defense is a net negative in terms of WAR. It's not his fault the Tigers didn't take more advantage of it.
   53. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: September 19, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4240188)
I think they just compare RS by both teams in the park, vs. on the road. If the good pitcher pitched at home more frequently, that could skew it.


I think it would be awesome if teams started gaming OPS+ by pitching their good pitchers at home more often, to pump up their position players' trade values.
   54. alilisd Posted: September 19, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4240189)
Neither Ichiro nor Rickey Henderson nor Roberto Clemente ever topped Trout's 2.6. Bonds did, once.


But dWAR measurement just changed. So only Ichiro would be comparable, right? The others are being measured with TZR while Trout, and Ichiro, are being measured by DRS.
   55. Shredder Posted: September 19, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4240227)
It's not completely up to either of them where they play on the field, so it seems a little unjust to penalize someone who is playing "out of position" because his team asked him to, while the other player is put at a position that emphasizes his best assets.
He's not being penalized for playing out of position. He's benefiting from the fact that "replacement" level is now much lower than it would have been if he were at first base. If Cabrera were still at first, his dWAR may be slightly higher, but his oWAR would undoubtedly be a fair amount lower.
If Mike Trout was playing third base for some stupid reason, his WAR would be much lower and he'd be much less "valuable," but it wouldn't be his fault.
Who cares who's fault it is? Earlier in this thread you wanted to ding Trout because he hadn't played as many games this year. That's not his fault. Should we make some sort of adjustment to give him the benefit of the doubt for that month? Absolutely not. We evaluate what he's done when he's been in the lineup. Same is true for Cabrera. You can't give your guy credit vis a vis Trout because of something that wasn't Trout's fault, then also turn around and say your guy deserves a break because of something that's not his fault.
Miguel Cabrera is very likely a better third baseman (and maybe a better first baseman) than Mike Trout.
Maybe. But you don't have to go very far back into history to find a gold glove winning center fielder who moved to first base at the club's request, and became a gold glove player at that position as well. So I'm not sure I'd be willing to bet that Trout couldn't handle first (or third) as adeptly as Cabrera who, let's not forget, actually spent a fair amount of time (including a full season!) at third base before this year.

Honest question: Do you think Cabrera playing poorly but adequately at third base helps or hurts his MVP chances? I don't think it's a particular tough call.
   56. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 19, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4240234)
For those of you who don't believe Cabrera is a "hit-by-a-bus" candidate right now, do you think that Albert Pujols was a "hit-by-a-bus" lock after his first 10 years? Holy crap: 1900 hits, 408 HR, .331/.426/.624, 172 OPS+, 78.8 WAR, 9 All-Star Games, 3 MVPs.

If you believe that he was (and if he wasn't, nobody was), then where's the dividing line? How far away is Cabrera?


How many first basemen should be in the HOF? The HOF has inducted 237 players in 130 ish years. If it was allocated by position/roster size, that would leave room for roughly 10 first basemen. Of course that would include relief pitchers and bench players, who don't deserve as much representation, so if you divide it by starters only, 8 position players and 5 starting pitchers , you would have room for up to 18 first basemen.

Is Cabrera one of the 18 best first basemen of all time now? Not even close by WAR, I think he's still in the 40s. But close enough to make the top 18 if he has a long career.

So is his first ten years so extraordinary that on its own he merits inclusion? I would think it would have to be one of the 5 best first decades ever by a first baseman to give him one of those slots, ie if it was just top 18 best starting decade and he had zero post decade career accomplishments like the other 18 had he obviously wouldn't merit it.

So his first ten years must be extraordinary and I think top 5 is the bare minimum, especially when top 9 would just be "above average" for the group. Iso, no, he wouldn't merit inclusion based on his performance. Cabreras first decade isn't remotely one of the 5 best by a first basemen, I dont think it's even top 10. I think Pujols first decade might be top 3, but not just because of the 15% more offense over Cabrera, but also his excellent defensive value. Pujols recorded 78.8 WAR with the aid of 117 fielding runs. Cabrera has 43.8 WAR hobbled by -61 fielding runs. Throwing defense out, Pujols had 591 batting runs to only 395 for Cabrera.

The only extraordinary thing about Cabrera when compared to other great first basemen is that he started so young, which makes him a likely candidate if, and only if, he lasts another decade and doesn't suffer anything worse than the typical age related decline.
   57. chemdoc Posted: September 19, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4240240)
I'm also surprised that the Rbat is so close when Cabrera has almost 20 games on Trout. But the plate appearance numbers are a lot closer, I'm guessing because Trout bats leadoff and because Cabrera is more often removed for defensive replacements late in games.


I don't think Cabrera's been removed for a defensive replacement more than a handful of times.
   58. Loren F. Posted: September 19, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4240282)
This will all be moot when the writers vote Jim Johnson the MVP. They couldn't have won all those one-run games without him!
   59. smileyy Posted: September 19, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4240333)
I think it would be awesome if teams started gaming OPS+ by pitching their good pitchers at home more often, to pump up their position players' trade values.


I've always thought that "pitcher's parks" can be used to game the system in a similar way. A pitcher's park can great a lot of "good-looking" pitchers. If your own management can properly evaluate them, I'd think this could lead to a lot of average pitchers being highly valued by the rest of the league, and being able to be used in trades accordingly.
   60. alilisd Posted: September 19, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4240359)
I think Pujols first decade might be top 3, but not just because of the 15% more offense over Cabrera, but also his excellent defensive value.


Not sure how Pujols wouldn't be top 3. I guess if you don't count Gehrig's first two seasons since they were really just "cups of coffee" then he is in front of Pujols for first and if you do the same for Foxx's first three seasons you can get him closer to Pujols for second, but I don't see anyone else even close to those guys. Maybe a WW II credit for Mize puts him in the discussion?

The only extraordinary thing about Cabrera when compared to other great first basemen is that he started so young, which makes him a likely candidate if, and only if, he lasts another decade and doesn't suffer anything worse than the typical age related decline.


Don't really agree with either of these sentiments. Many, if not most, of the great 1B started young. Also, I dont' think he needs another decade with typical decline to put up HOF numbers. Another 8 years, with typical decline, puts him at 37, most HOF 1B finished up at 37 or later (Gehrig, Greenberg and Cepeda finished at 36 and two of them had extenuating circumstances: disease and military service).

I see no reason he shouldn't have HOF numbers with another 8 years of play. Health can never be predicted, but he's been very durable and healthy so far. If there's no change to that, he may play beyond 37, particularly wtih the DH available.
   61. Shredder Posted: September 19, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4240391)
I see no reason he shouldn't have HOF numbers with another 8 years of play. Health can never be predicted, but he's been very durable and healthy so far. If there's no change to that, he may play beyond 37, particularly wtih the DH available.
In my MLB'11: The Show career that I've been playing for a year or so now, Cabrera is still playing in the year 2023, and has hit over 800 career home runs. He also holds the RBI record. Of course, my character will overtook him in both categories around the age of 33.
   62. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 19, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4240528)
In a sense, Cabrera is getting double-penalized for moving to third. First, he's getting dinged by WAR because he's slightly below average at third base. But second, even with the built-in positional adjustment, he's getting penalized for playing at a position that probably isn't optimal for him, because management wants him to.

Except that he's not. Cabrera's dWAR (fielding + position) is -0.4 this year. It's been -1.0 or worse in each of the four full years he's spent at first for the Tigers, and has never been better than -0.8 in any of his eight previous full seasons. So there's a pretty good argument that the move to third is actually an optimal use of Cabrera's defensive abilities, and WAR is reflecting that.
   63. Blastin Posted: September 19, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4240532)
In my Baseball Mogul 13, he retired after 2026 with 4162 hits but only 706 homeruns (he kept putting up 900 opses until he was 38 and even an 837 at age 42 (playing for Philadelphia after several years with the New Jersey Mob, heh) but he got injured a fair amount and was more of a doubles guy than a HR basher the last half-decade..

I also have a created player (or, a real player that I made better and stuck into a superlineup) topping that list, though.

(Back to nondork world..)
   64. Shredder Posted: September 19, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4240546)
So there's a pretty good argument that the move to third is actually an optimal use of Cabrera's defensive abilities, and WAR is reflecting that.
He's also getting a fairly sizable hitting boost due to the position adjustment in oWAR.
   65. Walt Davis Posted: September 19, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4240555)
I find it hard to believe that this could lead to almost 4 wins on defense alone. It just seems that something is off balance in the equation.

Oops, I dropped the numbers ... it was 2.5 outs per game for Trout vs. 2.3 for an average CF. (I didn't check if those were accurate, just taking the numbers).

The difference between an out and a hit is about .8 runs.* It should be higher than that for OF hits I'd imagine. .2 outs per game would come to 24 runs over 150 games. bWAR has Trout as 25 runs above average CF. He doesn't have 150 games played I know but those two are in the same ballpark.

In baseball, seemingly trivial differences have a big effect. Remember, 40 points of OBP is one less out (and one more time on base) per week -- we might not even notice if we didn't keep count. Trout at +25 runs means that he's saved one run per week -- high but not mind-boggling.

* a "hit" is worth .5 on average; an out is "worth" -.3; so the difference is .8.

he's probably not as good as his teammate Peter Bourjos, who had a 1.6 in a full season last year.

Yes but Bourjos had amazing numbers in 2010 and this year in limited play. For his career it's 4.1 dWAR in about 1.5 seasons' worth of innings. So DRS puts Bourjos a little better ratewise in more innings.

Andruw didn't just top 2.6 4 times, he blew it out of the water sometimes. At age 20, Andruw was 2.5 in fewer than 1000 innings with half of those innings coming in RF. At age 21, he had 3.9 dWAR, followed by a 3.8 and then 2 more seasons over 2.6. So far all bWAR is saying is that Trout has had one season almost as good as young Andruw. That hardly strikes me as "unpossible! dWAR must be wrong!"

Devon White had only two such seasons! Well, let's wait until Trout has 3 before we start thinking that dWAR must be insane to think Trout is better than White. And in one of those years, White blew it out of the water too with a 3.8. He had 3 more seasons of 2+.

And I don't know why anybody would have a hard time believing that Trout might be a better fielder than the young Torii Hunter.

Do we now disbelieve Erstad's 4.2 dWAR season? What about Franklin Gutierrez's 3.6 or Bourn's 3.5? Austin Jackson's 3.4? Gardner's 3.3?

I get Trout's 2.6 tied for 24th best OF dWAR season of the modern era (i.e. names I recognized). Do people really find that shocking? Bill North had a season better than this. So did Cesar Geronimo. Roberto Kelly and Rondell White had seasons just as good. OK, adjust for playing time and he probably moves up the list some.

DRS might have all sorts of problems with it but Mike Trout having a non-historic but excellent season is not any sort of evidence of a problem.

   66. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 19, 2012 at 07:42 PM (#4240577)
He's also getting a fairly sizable hitting boost due to the position adjustment in oWAR.

Well, dWAR and oWAR now both include the same position bonus, so you can't use both of them at the same time. But even if you just look at his RField on its own, B-R has his years at first as -10, -1, -5, -3, and now a -5 at third. Fangraphs has them as -8, +4, -6, -4, and now -9 at third. Neither of those in any way approaches the position adjustment from first to third. Dumb as I thought the move across the diamond was likely to be, Cabrera has made it stick.
   67. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 19, 2012 at 07:58 PM (#4240588)
Don't really agree with either of these sentiments. Many, if not most, of the great 1B started young. Also, I dont' think he needs another decade with typical decline to put up HOF numbers. Another 8 years, with typical decline, puts him at 37, most HOF 1B finished up at 37 or later (Gehrig, Greenberg and Cepeda finished at 36 and two of them had extenuating circumstances: disease and military service).


In another thread a few days ago I looked at the OPS+ great hitting irst basemen averaged in their first 6,000 PAs (roughlywhere Miggy is now). IIRC Miggy was 7th or lower, which didnt stand out at all, except for the fact he was 29 when he got there, while the others were all in their 30s, from 31 up to 38.

So it would be more precise for me to have said he stands out for being so good at a young age, and losing very little time to injury or other factors (strike, suspension). He's been very consistent and reliable for his first decade, but not inner circle HOF productive.
   68. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 19, 2012 at 08:12 PM (#4240593)
Player/OPS+/PAs
Pujols/172/6082
Thomas/169/ 6,092
McGwire/162/6,314
Bagwell/159/6,519
Manny/157/5,912
Thome/152/6,421
Martinez/152/6,534
Cabrera/151/6,399
Giambi/149/6,329
Belle/148/6,054
Berkman/147/6,355
Helton/145/6,076
Delgado/142/6,018


Here it is. Note that ShoeWizard pointed out Miggys played more games at 3b/outfield than first, but I will respond that he's also been terrible at them. And this is probably the most favorable list you can give Miggy, it ignores defense , and I ignore anyone who played before the 1989s, with Gherig, Foxx, etc, etc, Miggy would be pushed far down it.

His consistency is amazing. But he simply asnt been as dominant as many historically great first basemen. Maybe that's coming now?
   69. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: September 19, 2012 at 08:29 PM (#4240601)
How does Albert Belle - who played a lot of OF, a little DH, and zero 1B - make a list of first basemen?
   70. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4240638)
The same way Manny did.
   71. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:45 PM (#4240648)

Neither Ichiro nor Rickey Henderson nor Roberto Clemente ever topped Trout's 2.6. Bonds did, once.

Fair enough. Ichiro had a 2.4. Rickey had a 2.0 in 108 games and I think that was pre-PBP data so it's not directly comparable.

I'd guess that WAR overstates Trout's value relative to Cabrera but I don't doubt that Trout has been more valuable.
   72. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4240654)

Here it is. Note that ShoeWizard pointed out Miggys played more games at 3b/outfield than first, but I will respond that he's also been terrible at them.

At least by the numbers, Cabrera wasn't a terrible outfielder. He was a terrible 3B the first time around.
   73. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:53 PM (#4240658)
How does Albert Belle - who played a lot of OF, a little DH, and zero 1B - make a list of first basemen?


I didn't say that was a list of first basemen, I said it was a list of "irst" baseman, which is a term I hereby make up that is mostly first basemen of recent vintage but includes Belle and Manny. So I'm off the hook for that one.

But seriously, it's a list of showing the OPS+ of the first low defensive value sluggers of the last 30 years (exception to the defensive value being Pujols) showing how far down the list Cabrera is.

If you don't trust any defensive statistics or positional value, simply by wRC+, maybe the best possible rate stat we have, Cabrera is 36th all time without having any decline years, so in ten years after a standard decline he's likely to be closer to 70th. If you had 18 spots each for RF/LF/1B, and you awarded half of those spots without any defensive or positional consideration, you'd have 24 spots for slow footed sluggers, and Cabrera's current wRC+ wouldn't be likely enough to make the list. I damn him with less than total praise as an excellent, but not great, hitter.

In career value Cabrera's 92nd in offensive value in wRAA. He's likely to finish in the top 30, maybe as high top 20. That's his HOF argument if he makes it that far. A guy who consistently put up excellent offensive seasons and offset his defensive shortcomings by cheerfully providing positional flexibility to his teams.

If you want to put up a peak value argument, Votto is a better argument. His OPS+ is higher (and his wRC+ even more so), than Miggy, and he has defensive value. He just got off to a much later start and lost more games to injury, but he's been the more productive total player when on the field.
   74. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 19, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4240660)
At least by the numbers, Cabrera wasn't a terrible outfielder.


UZR says, ahem. -11.2/150 over 3,000 innings. Only -5.9/150 in LF over 2,000+ innings says Faint Praise.


He was a terrible 3B the first time around.


Grain of salt says -12.0/150 this year which would be his worst (-6.4/150 career).

Sample Size for this go round is too small to be in conversation unless he plays third next year too.
   75. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4240666)
If you want to put up a peak value argument, Votto is a better argument.

Say what? Top seasons by wRC+:

Cabrera: 177, 169, 169, 152
Votto: 176, 173, 156, 155

That's pretty indistinguishable, except for the fact that Cabrera has played at least 150 games in all of those years (except for this one, in which he's currently playing his 147th) while Votto had a year of 131 and has also missed a good-sized chunk of this year. Their peaks, at least as hitters, are very similar; it's just that Cabrera has 4 extra years of excellent hitting to go with the identical peak.

Edit: Cabrera's three best years have also come in the tougher league.
   76. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4240671)
Cabrera homered again today and is currently leading in BA, RBI and only one back of Hamilton for the home run lead. He's got a pretty good shot at pulling this off.
   77. alilisd Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4240690)
@ 67: there's a big difference between being a likely candidate, which is what I was responding to, and being an inner circle HOF, which I never suggested and don't believe anyone else has either. As to your list, I would say everyone above him is a perfectly reasonable HOF candidate, unless you have reservations about PeD use or the DH, and everyone below him is pretty close to the borderline so he seems like he should become a likely candidate.

Another way of looking at it would be by batting runs, as it is a bit more accurate/complete than OPS+. He already has 395, which is more than Will Clark and Delgado, and nearly as many as McGriff, Helton, Boggs, Palmeiro and Giambi. Another season like any of his last three and he'll pass all of them. I didn't include corner OF in my search because he won't be playing any more OF and should be compared to corner IF and DH, IMO. That he hits as many 2B as HR, and bunches of both, as well as for a high average should not be overlooked.
   78. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:56 PM (#4240708)
Cabrera homered again today and is currently leading in BA, RBI and only one back of Hamilton for the home run lead. He's got a pretty good shot at pulling this off.


Let's say that Detroit either surges and clinches the AL Central with two games to go, or collapses and falls out of the playoff race with two games to go.
If Cabrera is leading HR by 2, and RBI by 6 or more, and AVG by only .005, does he sit in the final game to clinch the Triple Crown?
I'm hoping not, but I could see where they'd want to preserve this rare opportunity...
   79. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 20, 2012 at 01:25 AM (#4240799)
That's pretty indistinguishable, except for


the fact that those are almost Vottos entire career instead of less than half Cabreras. Then there is defense, which puts Votto ahead.

@ 67: there's a big difference between being a likely candidate, which is what I was responding to, and being an inner circle HOF, which I never suggested and don't believe anyone else has either. As to your list, I would say everyone above him is a perfectly reasonable HOF candidate, unless you have reservations about PeD use or the DH, and everyone below him is pretty close to the borderline so he seems like he should become a likely candidate.


The argument wasnt inner circle, it was whether he was HOF worthy right now. Maybe none of those guys in the list would have gone in after 6k PAs other than Pujols. Big Mac put up 2 more stellar seasons after his 6k PA season and you still get arguments here that he doesn't deserve the HOF now even ignoring PED usage.

Another way of looking at it would be by batting runs, as it is a bit more accurate/complete than OPS+. He already has 395, which is more than Will Clark and Delgado, and nearly as many as McGriff, Helton, Boggs, Palmeiro and Giambi. Another season like any of his last three and he'll pass all of them. I didn't include corner OF in my search because he won't be playing any more OF and should be compared to corner IF and DH, IMO. That he hits as many 2B as HR, and bunches of both, as well as for a high average should not be overlooked.


He's still 95th in batting runs, he'll eventually be highly ranked in it barring injury/decline, but if he was hit by a bus tomorrow he's not even close to the greatest hitter of hs generation* and a bad defender. He needs many more years of counting stats to be worthy.

* he is second in batting runs the last ten years to Pujols, but the gulf between them is huge, 567 to 400. There are a bunch of hitters just behind Cabrera who are well into their decline ages, whom he barely edged because he played more games. Putting up similar batting runs over your best, healthiest decade as did aging shortstops and second basemen in their thirties and mid thirties and a nearly 40 year old DH in a tougher division clearly says your peak alone is not HOF worthy.
   80. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 20, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4240807)
Here is the best way to look at Miggy. He's 24th in batting runs in baseball history before age 30 seasons. That's impressive.

But how did he get there? He's also 15th in PAs all time among players before their age 30 seasons. But his wRC+ is only 50th on that list. He's been very healthy, and productive from a very young age, and has been an excellent but nowhere near all time great hitter (Ryan Braun has a higher wRC+).

When you add back defense he's 45th in pre-age 30 season WAR. His 50 is behind Andrew Jones 65, Santos 61, Fregosi, Cedeno, Rolen, and he has a games played advantage over all of them.

Jones and Rolen are great examples that, no, Miggy isn't HOF worthy today, and won't be, ever, if he suffers an early decline.
   81. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 20, 2012 at 02:11 AM (#4240809)
A great example of a HOF peak would be Greenberg. He had 54 WAR before he went to serve his country in WWII, and had produced more batting runs in 2,000 fewer PAs than Miggy.
   82. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 20, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4240931)
Andruw didn't just top 2.6 4 times, he blew it out of the water sometimes. At age 20, Andruw was 2.5 in fewer than 1000 innings with half of those innings coming in RF. At age 21, he had 3.9 dWAR, followed by a 3.8 and then 2 more seasons over 2.6. So far all bWAR is saying is that Trout has had one season almost as good as young Andruw. That hardly strikes me as "unpossible! dWAR must be wrong!"

But I'm not questioning whether Mike Trout is good defensively, or if he's "nearly as good" as Andruw Jones/Devon White/Bill North, whoever. I think Mike Trout is fantastic in center field, and I think young Andruw Jones was the best outfielder I've ever seen. WAR's relative evaluation of all those guys you listed seems reasonable to me.

The thing I am skeptical about is whether great center field defense -- from anyone -- is really worth 4 wins. (And I admit I must have read some numbers wrong. I thought I saw that Trout had 3.x dWAR but really it's 2.5, which is more believable.) If I don't believe that Andruw Jones was worth 3.9 wins in 1998, it seems entirely consistent for me to not believe Mike Trout has been worth 2.5 (in 126 games) this year.

I'm skeptical that any outfielder's glove can be worth as much as a good (not excellent, but good) hitter's bat, just because of the number of opportunities. A hitter is going to get approximately 1/9th of his team's offensive plate appearances, but no defender is ever going to handle 1/9th of his team's defensive plate appearances, because of strikeouts, walks, home runs (though Mike Trout does "handle" some of those!), and batted balls that no one has a play on. OK, the first baseman catches the ball on more than 1/9th of the PAs, but that doesn't usually involve much defense.

I completely made up that 2.5/2.3 putouts per game number (Trout's number is close, but I didn't look up the league average), but if a center fielder is getting only 2-3 playable balls hit to him per game, and a large share of those (75%?) are what we would consider "routine," I just don't see how the value adds up.

Maybe the math works out, I don't know. People much smarter than me have looked at it and seem to believe in it. I'm just not entirely convinced. The way I look at it, our defensive metrics have evolved/improved immensely over the past 20 years, even the past 5 years, but I think it's overly optimistic to assume that the dWAR formula we have right now is perfect. It's a relatively new "science," after all, and there's still a lot of tweaking to do. A few months ago, remember, Brett Lawrie was the best defensive player ever.

And on the "hit-by-a-bus" topic, I am surprised by how many people here think the Hall of Fame is voted on by people intimately familiar with WAR and wRC+ and typical aging patterns. There isn't a minimum WAR for Hall of Fame admission. I mean, seriously, Kirby Puckett was voted into the Hall of Fame (easily), Jim Rice got there eventually, Bruce Sutter and Catfish Hunter were voted in, and Jack Morris might be soon. You can prove with numbers that Miguel Cabrera isn't as good as Vada Pinson or Sal Bando or Ken Boyer, but if you showed that to most HOF voters, all you'd get is some lame crack about getting out of your mom's basement.

Those of us who believe that bus-killed Miguel Cabrera should/would get into the Hall of Fame aren't claiming that his career to this point has been more "valuable" than the careers of everyone who's not in the Hall of Fame. We just think that his fairly uncommon resume (great if not quite elite peak, but consistently and reliably great, year after year) would be worth honoring. Kind of like Sandy Koufax or Dizzy Dean -- with a lower peak, but a much, much higher trough.
   83. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: September 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4240943)
I hope Miggy wins the Triple Crown. I've never seen one, and it would be downright cool.

   84. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4241055)
Who cares who's fault it is? Earlier in this thread you wanted to ding Trout because he hadn't played as many games this year. That's not his fault. Should we make some sort of adjustment to give him the benefit of the doubt for that month? Absolutely not. We evaluate what he's done when he's been in the lineup. Same is true for Cabrera. You can't give your guy credit vis a vis Trout because of something that wasn't Trout's fault, then also turn around and say your guy deserves a break because of something that's not his fault.

Shredder, it certainly wasn't my intention to "ding" Trout in this thread or any other and I apologize if it came off that way. I think he's great, and I even stated somewhere that I would vote for him for MVP, even though I'm (obviously) a huge Tigers/Cabrera fan. I was simply comparing the raw stats, and it's pretty clear and uncontroversial that Cabrera has played more games than Trout. How "valuable" that is can be debated.

There was an interesting Pujols vs. Bonds MVP debate some years back that centered on this. Bonds had the bigger value numbers, but there were a lot of games where he contributed no value at all, because he didn't play in them.

Generally, it makes sense to "value" a player on their total contribution over the season. Whether they contributed 8.0 WAR in 162 games or 120, their team (theoretically) won 8 more games than they would have with a replacement player for the missed games. However, I think there is a certain value in "attendance," whether it's your manager being able to pencil you into the starting lineup every day, or whether it means being on the active roster instead of on the DL or in the minors.

Let's say we take two completely identical teams, with one difference: One has a 2002 Barry Bonds type, who contributes 6 WAR in 70 games before getting hit by a bus, and he is then replaced by Terrence Long for 92 games, for a net WAR of... 6. The other team has a steady Cabrera type who also gets 6 WAR but plays in 162 games. By WAR, both teams should theoretically have identical records, but would the Bonds team really be able to squeeze out 6 extra wins in a 30-game span based on the contributions of a single player? Cabrera's team would be more likely to benefit from his "value," in actual instead of theoretical terms.

That's my "attendance" argument, and it diminishes as the sample sizes increase. The difference between 160 and 140 games is fairly negligible, but there's got to be a line somewhere where the lack of attendance has a material impact on otherwise equivalent WAR. The more games you play in, the more games you can help your team win, but no matter how much you do in a single game, you can only win it once.

Honest question: Do you think Cabrera playing poorly but adequately at third base helps or hurts his MVP chances? I don't think it's a particular tough call.

I think it helps, based on what the voters know about the situation. Is that the right answer?
   85. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 20, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4241285)
There isn't a minimum WAR for Hall of Fame admission


Of course not. I can only look at value, voters psyches are harder to read. But Puckett got in because he was beloved, not because he was deserving from a value perspective. I don't see the special case they would make for Miggy, his off field issues hurt a little too. But if he hits for Triple Crown, obviously wins MVP, leads Tigers to Workd Series victory (along with 2 in Florida) and then gets hit by said bus, I like his chances.

I think it helps, based on what the voters know about the situation. Is that the right answer?


100% agreed. His willingness to move positions is a plus, even if his defense hasn't been. I think voters won't penalize him as much, and probably shouldn't, for the quality of his third base defense.
   86. alilisd Posted: September 22, 2012 at 05:26 PM (#4243146)
The argument wasnt inner circle, it was whether he was HOF worthy right now.


No, it was neither of those. Those are the strawmen you have put up. The question was, "How far away is Cabrera?" you quoted it in 57. You suggested a decade with no more than normal decline. I don't think it will take that long, but that's a quibble.

What I don't understand is why you're twisting yourself into knots trying to argue he hasn't hit like a HOF. There's just no reasonable way to make that argument. He established himself as a very good ML hitter at 21, typical for a HOF. He established himself as an elite hitter at 22 to 25. He has taken another step forward and is hitting at a higher level than ever over the past three seasons.

Through age 29 season he is Frank Robinson with the bat. He's not the same baseball player, not remotely, but he is the same hitter and that is a HOF hitter. In 6423 PA his OPS+ is 151, Rbat 396. Robinson 6408, 150 and 387. All the guys around him in terms of OPS+ and Rbat are HOF hitters, Mathews, Griffey, Rodriguez and Robinson. If he ages with normal decline, he would end up as a HOF hitter. There is simply no way around that.
   87. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 22, 2012 at 05:52 PM (#4243168)
That's pretty indistinguishable, except for

the fact that those are almost Vottos entire career instead of less than half Cabreras.


Well, yeah. But you're comparing peaks, which means you compare the players' best seasons, not their career averages. Or at least, that's the usual definition of "peak." Votto's defense has been better, Cabrera has been healthier. You can flip a coin. I don't see a an argument that Votto's peak is clearly higher than Cabrera's.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
The Piehole of David Wells
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT:  October 2014 - College Football thread
(458 - 7:42pm, Oct 25)
Last: AuntBea

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(3796 - 7:31pm, Oct 25)
Last: Gonfalon Bubble

NewsblogYost's managerial decisions make for extra-entertaining World Series | FOX Sports
(16 - 7:30pm, Oct 25)
Last: BDC

Newsblog2014 WORLD SERIES GAME 4 OMNICHATTER
(24 - 7:29pm, Oct 25)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogBoston Red Sox prospect Deven Marrero enjoying turnaround in Arizona Fall League | MiLB.com
(13 - 7:00pm, Oct 25)
Last: Bug Selig

NewsblogGambling Bochy creature of habit when it comes to pitchers | CSN Bay Area
(5 - 6:56pm, Oct 25)
Last: Bug Selig

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1959 Ballot
(8 - 6:29pm, Oct 25)
Last: Chris Fluit

NewsblogMLB - Royals' Ned Yost keeps managing to win - ESPN
(12 - 6:15pm, Oct 25)
Last: Cat8

NewsblogDave Dombrowski: Injury worse than expected, Miguel Cabrera 'is as tough as you can possibly be' | MLive.com
(24 - 6:10pm, Oct 25)
Last: Random Transaction Generator

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(872 - 6:02pm, Oct 25)
Last: Greg K

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(395 - 5:49pm, Oct 25)
Last: NJ in DC (Now with Wife!)

NewsblogBuster Olney on Twitter: "Sources: Manager Joe Maddon has exercised an opt-out clause in his contract and is leaving the Tampa Bay Rays immediately."
(87 - 5:12pm, Oct 25)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogJohn McGrath: The Giants have become the Yankees — obnoxious | The News Tribune
(20 - 4:40pm, Oct 25)
Last: Baldrick

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread, September 2014
(936 - 4:29pm, Oct 25)
Last: Howling John Shade

NewsblogPhils' philospophy beginning to evolve | phillies.com
(12 - 4:08pm, Oct 25)
Last: Textbook Editor

Page rendered in 0.6921 seconds
52 querie(s) executed