I’ll cling to the old world. I swear I will…I’ll cling. .... GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH
I’m very perplexed with a lot of my baseball writing brethren. Miguel Cabrera and R.A. Dickey have each respectively had phenomenal seasons, MVP and Cy Young-worthy seasons — seasons we should be celebrating. But instead many scribes and bloggers across the country have taken to disparaging them, especially Cabrera who has fallen victim to that nebulous (I would say ludicrous) new-age sabermetric stat called WAR. I’ll get to that in a minute, but when it comes to Dickey I have to wonder if the stigma of being an unconventional 37-year-old knuckleballer is going to deprive him of winning the National League Cy Young Award, when his winning should be a no-brainer. How else do you explain why so many people seem to be desperately looking for someone else to vote for?
...and yet there is this clamor from the sabermetrics gallery that Cabrera must be penalized for his slowness afoot and supposed defensive shortcomings. To hear them tell it, if Cabrera winds up leading the league in batting, homers, RBI, slugging and total bases, and being second in hits and runs, it will still pale in comparison to L.A. Angels super rookie Mike Trout leading the league in runs, stolen bases and . . . WAR.
I certainly get that Trout’s speed is an important component in this debate. But this growing infatuation with WAR (wins above replacement) is, in my opinion, turning baseball into an inhuman board game. This is a stat that even its inventors can’t agree on an established formula, other than when all of these various factors of offense and defense are put into a blender and shaken well, out comes the player’s value to a team in wins above and beyond the “replacement” value of a player taken off the waiver wire for nothing. In other words, one big hypothetical. According to one blogger last week, Trout’s superior WAR demonstrates that “he has helped his team win roughly three to four more games than Cabrera has helped his.” Don’t ask how that conclusion is reached. Much of this, presumably, is based on Trout’s superior defense and speed. But again, all of this is hypothetical, and how do you vote on a stat nobody knows how to calculate?