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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CAPUTO: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mike Trout - why Cabrera is the better player

And the video ties it all together in a neat head-scratching muddle.

Last year, the endless debate, which raged about who should be the American League Most Valuable Player between the two (Cabrera, despite many protests, won in a relative landslide), was just the beginning. There are those who have already come to the conclusion Trout, because he is so skilled overall, is clearly the better player.

I understand that thought. It is not without validity.

Yet, entering this season, I still view it differently. I see it like Trout can only hope he is some day as good a player as Cabrera.

Trout has much more to prove. In actuality, he performed at an extraordinary level as a hitter for only a relatively short period.

When a spot in the playoffs was on the line, Trout faded at the plate, while Cabrera surged.

At this stage, Trout, who reportedly arrived to spring training carrying 30 extra pounds, remains about potential. Cabrera is about reality.

Repoz Posted: February 26, 2013 at 05:53 AM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, tigers

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 26, 2013 at 06:27 AM (#4376132)
Trout was more valuable than Cabrera in 2012

Cabrera is the better player

These are not necessarily mutually inconsistent propositions. The first, however, is undeniably true. The second is an interesting question.

Now, how do we define "playoff spot on the line"?

In the last 7 games of the season, Trout hit 379/471/793.
In the 7 games before that, he was down at 217/379/391 -- lousy BA, excellent OBP, fine ISO
In the 7 games before that, he hit 308/438/346 -- good BA, great OBP, lousy ISO
In the 7 games before that, he hit 259/355/519

So over the last 28 games, he hit 295/413/524. Prior to that he hit 333/396/573. So 17 points of OBP for 49 points of SLG ... that's not fading.

Now Cabrera was ridiculous in Sept so, absolutely, he outhit Trout by a bunch over that stretch -- 159 points of SLG for 38 points of OBP.

Cabrera didn't play in game 162 but in the 27 before that the Tigers went 16-11. Over those 28 games, the Angels went 18-10.

Ummm ...

As we all know, the Angels had more wins than the Tigers on the season. The Tigers won because they made up 3 games on the White Sox, being tied to start the month. The Angels picked up .5 on the A's and 4.5 on the Rangers but were too far back to take the division. Unfortunately for the Angels, the O's and Yanks went 19-10 and the Rays 17-11.

In case you aren't keeping score, the uber-clutch Tigers went 16-13 down the stretch. The O's, Yanks, Angels, Rays, and A's all had better records than the Tigers down the stretch and for the season overall. They even only went 2-2 against the Sox down the stretch. They did manage to go 12-4 against Cle, KC and Minnesota.

This myth needs to die. The Tigers made the playoffs not due to some clutch drive but due to being in a crappy division and having the Sox struggle to a 13-16 finish.
   2. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 26, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4376147)
Cabrera is better than Trout cuz people who look at numbers are commie homo terrorists.
   3. The District Attorney Posted: February 26, 2013 at 08:55 AM (#4376149)
When a spot in the playoffs was on the line, Trout faded at the plate, while Cabrera surged.
Hey, when a spot in the playoffs was on the line, at least Trout was sober, didn't commit any crimes and showed up to the game.
   4. bjhanke Posted: February 26, 2013 at 09:06 AM (#4376152)
"At this stage, Trout, who reportedly arrived to spring training carrying 30 extra pounds, remains about potential. Cabrera is about reality."

Walt dismantled this in enough detail that I don't feel any need to add to that. What I want to say is that the above sentence is false as a piece of writing. Trout is about potential; that part is true. But Cabrera is not about "reality." Cabrera is about previous accomplishments that more strongly indicate that he will have more seasons like 2012 than Trout's previous accomplishments. That is, both players are about "potential." It's just that Cabrera has more history behind his potential, so statistical projections of Cabrera's have more statistical confidence in them than projections for Trout. The only "reality" question involved in comparing the players is how well they played last year. Most analysts say it was Trout. Reality is in favor of Trout, not Cabrera. -Brock Hanke
   5. bunyon Posted: February 26, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4376173)
Hey, when a spot in the playoffs was on the line, at least Trout was sober,

Wait til he turns 21!

Seriously, has Trout really put on 30 pounds? Is it muscle? He wouldn't be the first rookie to believe the press and slip a bit in effort and performance. Has anyone seen his ST appearances?
   6. AROM Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:02 AM (#4376180)
Are they comparing Trout to his 2012 weight entering spring training? Trout had a serious illness in winter/spring 2012 and lost a bunch of weight. He could be 30 pounds heavier mostly by showing up healthy. On Sunday I saw a shot of him in the dugout and he looked like the Trout that finished last season.

If he is really carrying 245 pounds on his 6 foot frame though, better look somewhere else for steals.
   7. bunyon Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4376182)
That makes some sense, AROM.
   8. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4376189)
Trout is a rugged dude (he has a neck like a defensive tackle) but I'd be worried if he's carrying an extra 30 lbs of anything. I was just talking about that with a buddy of mine re: Vernon Wells. Why in the name of God do teams not have weight clauses in contracts? Its not like its beyond a player's control.
   9. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4376190)
Seriously, has Trout really put on 30 pounds? Is it muscle? He wouldn't be the first rookie to believe the press and slip a bit in effort and performance. Has anyone seen his ST appearances?

If they are talking about from the end of last season, then I seriously doubt it. Typically the rule of thumb is that with a dedicated weight training and nutrition regime, you can gain a pound a week max. But virtually nobody keeps that up those kind of gains over long stretches. Now Trout is is young, so there could be some added natural growth in there pushing things along. But my guess would be that a large chunk of that 30 lbs is just additional fluid retention, which is typical.
   10. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:14 AM (#4376191)
But Cabrera is not about "reality." Cabrera is about previous accomplishments that more strongly indicate that he will have more seasons like 2012 than Trout's previous accomplishments. That is, both players are about "potential." It's just that Cabrera has more history behind his potential, so statistical projections of Cabrera's have more statistical confidence in them than projections for Trout.


This strikes me as unnecessary pedantry. It's pretty clear that Caputo's saying that Cabrera's track record indicates that he's a guy who puts up seasons like this with some regularity and likely will continue to do so for another couple of seasons before he enters his decline phase. I don't think anyone would object to saying Cabrera "is" someone who's going to put up a 315/390/550 line with 30-35 homers, 40 or so doubles, and over 100 RBI unless he gets injured. Trout's an unknown quantity. He's put up one transcendent season, but without the track record, we don't know to what degree he was playing over his head, playing to his true talent level, or (least probably of all) has room to improve. It wouldn't shock me to see Trout put up another season that was more valuable than Cabrera's of course, but it shouldn't shock anyone to see him never play up to his 2012 season again, either.
   11. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4376199)
If he is really carrying 245 pounds on his 6 foot frame though, better look somewhere else for steals.

People seriously underestimate the importanc of lower body strength for sprinters. As long as he isn't disproportionately gaining upper body strength (or fat obviously), there is no reason to expect a huge dropoff in acceleration or velocity.
   12. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4376202)
People seriously underestimate the importance of lower body strength for sprinters. As long as he isn't disproportionately gaining upper body strength (or fat obviously), there is no reason to expect a huge dropoff in acceleration or velocity.


Lower body strength is huge, but it's all about relative strength. Elite sprinters tend to weigh around 170, with squats around 600. If Trout brought his squat up a little over 100 pounds with the extra 30 pounds of mass, I'll buy that he MIGHT not be any slower, but I still wouldn't bet the farm on it.
   13. The Good Face Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4376217)
Lower body strength is huge, but it's all about relative strength. Elite sprinters tend to weigh around 170, with squats around 600. If Trout brought his squat up a little over 100 pounds with the extra 30 pounds of mass, I'll buy that he MIGHT not be any slower, but I still wouldn't bet the farm on it.


Yeah. Also, Trout DOES have a big upper body. He's built like a NFL running back, with broad shoulders, a massively thick neck, and huge Popeye forearms. Of course, bulky strong guys can still be very fast, especially when they're very young. Considering the vast wiggle room in "official" baseball player weights, I wouldn't worry about it unless his physique actually looks significantly different from last year.
   14. Don Malcolm Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4376229)
Mike DiGiovanna's article in the LAT from 2/16...



   15. AROM Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4376233)
OK, here are the weight stats:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/fantasy-roto-arcade/angels-lineup-now-7-percent-more-mike-trout-124013301--mlb.html

Trout at 241 is 30 pounds heaver than the media guides generally list him, but he's been listed around 210 since he was drafted at 17. He's only 10 pounds heavier than he finished 2012.
   16. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4376234)
Yeah. Also, Trout DOES have a big upper body. He's built like a NFL running back, with broad shoulders, a massively thick neck, and huge Popeye forearms. Of course, bulky strong guys can still be very fast, especially when they're very young. Considering the vast wiggle room in "official" baseball player weights, I wouldn't worry about it unless his physique actually looks significantly different from last year.


Roids.
   17. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4376241)
Roids.

Yep. No Hall of Fame for you, kid.
   18. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4376244)
Yeah. Also, Trout DOES have a big upper body.

Yeah but he always had that. And he did just fine with it last season.
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4376260)
Are they comparing Trout to his 2012 weight entering spring training? Trout had a serious illness in winter/spring 2012 and lost a bunch of weight.

All I heard about Trout last year was the Angels kept him in the minors in April for standard "service clock" reasons which cost him the MVP because he only played 140 games. Are you saying they had a good reason to not have him start the season in the majors?
   20. AROM Posted: February 26, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4376283)
All I heard about Trout last year was the Angels kept him in the minors in April for standard "service clock" reasons which cost him the MVP because he only played 140 games. Are you saying they had a good reason to not have him start the season in the majors?


Trout made his debut and played about 1.5-2 months of the 2011 season. Had he started the 2012 season in the majors, he would be a free agent after the 2017 season. Since he spent last April in SLC, he now has 1 year and 70 days of service, putting him on track for free agency after 2017. I don't think his super 2 status would be any different either.

Trout starting in the minors last year was due to 1. Illness caused him to miss most of spring 2. Angels thought people like Abreu and Wells had more in them than they actually did 3. Nobody knew Trout would be that great so soon. After all, he only hit .220 in 2011. Service time had nothing to do with it, unless they thought about keeping him in the minors for about half the season, which is what it would have taken to delay his free agency on more year.
   21. Shredder Posted: February 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4376293)
3. Nobody knew Trout would be that great so soon.
Yeah, the illness was the primary reason he wasn't up, but this is an important point. It's not like the Angels brass (or anyone in baseball for that matter) knew that Trout was going to put up the numbers he put up. I think even projecting him at 285/365/500 with 25 steals would have been a pretty big stretch, and I can't speak for AROM, but I would have been thrilled with that. So if you're a little conservative, and you figure he's going to come in just under that, it's probably worth it to play the guys you're paying a lot of money to just to see if there's anything left in the tank. Clearly if they knew what they had on their hands, he probably would have been up sooner.

That said, I think this column is another in a long line of "methinks the author doth protest too much" columns that we've seen from Detroit area writers over the last six months.
   22. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: February 26, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4376312)
NJ is NY (#16) is probably joking, but I'm curious why Trout has been placed in the must-be-clean category already. For some players, the assumption would be that he gained weight due to using PEDs; for other players, the assumption would be that he "does it the right way." I've never been able to figure out what puts a player into one category or the other.
   23. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: February 26, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4376314)
NJ is NY (#16) is probably joking, but I'm curious why Trout has been placed in the must-be-clean category already. For some players, the assumption would be that he gained weight due to using PEDs; for other players, the assumption would be that he "does it the right way." I've never been able to figure out what puts a player into one category or the other.


Mostly whether or not the speaker likes the player in question, coupled with whether or not the player in question has a squeaky-clean image that seems genuine.
   24. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: February 26, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4376360)
Double post reloading the page.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: February 26, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4376547)
Trout made his debut and played about 1.5-2 months of the 2011 season. Had he started the 2012 season in the majors, he would be a free agent after the 2017 season. Since he spent last April in SLC, he now has 1 year and 70 days of service, putting him on track for free agency after 2017. I don't think his super 2 status would be any different either.

Nope you need 6 full years of service time to go FA. They would have had to keep him down for more time than he was up in 2011 to affect his clock. He'a an FA after 2017 whether they held him down or not. (He'd have 1 year and 100 days of service time if they hadn't put him in AAA.)

Trout's 2012 ZiPS were 267/338/414, 106 OPS+
Trout's 2013 ZiPS are 282/364/507, 371 wOBA, 7.4 WAR, top comp Matt Kemp
Cabrera 2013 ZiPS are 313/397/561, 399 wOBA, 6.5 WAR, top comp Eddie Mathews

As I've mentioned before, Kemp as the top comp for Trout suggests to me that Trout just doesn't have any good comps. Kemp was still in A+ ball at 20 and didn't make the majors until the last third of his age 21 season, wasn't full-time until 23 and his monster 2011 (age 26) is only 1 win better than Trout's age 21 projection.

Mathews' decline started sometime around 30-32 but I'm guessing he's only the top comp here because ZiPS likes position matches and is counting Cabrera as a 3B. That's fine but I suspect that a list of 1B comps would give us a better sense of how he might age ... or if fangraphs gave us more than his top comp.

   26. bigglou115 Posted: February 26, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4376567)
Can't find it now, but I read an interview were Trout said he only put on as much weight as he expected to lose over the course of ST. That would make sense, as the increase in conditioning would probably cause him to drop 15 lbs in over a month if he's eating healthy. With the aforementioned issues with his listed weight I'd be surprised if he added that much or more.
   27. AROM Posted: February 26, 2013 at 06:09 PM (#4376585)
Nope you need 6 full years of service time to go FA. They would have had to keep him down for more time than he was up in 2011 to affect his clock. He'a an FA after 2017 whether they held him down or not. (He'd have 1 year and 100 days of service time if they hadn't put him in AAA.)


Why the nope? If you're not repeating what I just said, then I can't tell the difference.
   28. BDC Posted: February 26, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4376588)
a list of 1B comps would give us a better sense of how he might age

Player           Rfield   PA OPS+
Eddie Murray         37 5837  144
Jimmie Foxx          33 6608  167
Boog Powell           0 5506  137
Orlando Cepeda      
-23 5684  142 


There aren't many hitters in Cabrera's exact range, but those are four first basemen with somewhat similar career length and offensive ability to Cabrera, through age 29. (He doesn't appear on his own list because he's played less than 50% of his games at 1B.) Murray still had his typical star year at 39, but the others were greatly diminished after the age of 33 or so. Not a lot of useful data here, but if I expand the list any more, it picks up most of the really good long-career first basemen, which is perhaps still less informative, because it's a list of everybody you can think of :)
   29. Squash Posted: February 26, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4376606)
NJ is NY (#16) is probably joking, but I'm curious why Trout has been placed in the must-be-clean category already. For some players, the assumption would be that he gained weight due to using PEDs; for other players, the assumption would be that he "does it the right way." I've never been able to figure out what puts a player into one category or the other.

The clean-cut All-American white guy golden boy image probably has a lot to do with it. Given that we all assume NFL linebackers are roiding out of their minds, Mike Trout at 6'1" and 240 lbs. of muscle with insane, blazing speed would fit quite neatly into an NFL linebacker core. Even Mike Trout at 230 would be no slouch.

That being said, as noted above Trout has said he expects to lose a lot of the weight during spring training, which would indicate that the extra 10-20 lbs. he's carrying is mostly water with some bulk/fat that he's put on to lose when the more intense conditioning begins - if he lost 10-20 lbs. of muscle in a month it would be pretty dire conditions to begin a baseball season in.
   30. alilisd Posted: February 26, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4376649)
Since when do baseball players do "intense conditioning" in spring training?
   31. Squash Posted: February 26, 2013 at 07:40 PM (#4376662)
The other thing is that Mike Trout is 21 years old. How big is he going to be in his late 20s or 30s? That's a big dude.
   32. bigglou115 Posted: February 26, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4376676)
Since when do baseball players do "intense conditioning" in spring training?


Compared to not running at all, baseball is a fairly intense cardio workout, especially for an outfielder.
   33. Tim D Posted: February 26, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4376705)
I am a Detroiter and I have gotten a real kick out of all the local writers trying to come up with why Cabrera is/was/will be better than Trout. Sorry Detroit, but at Trout's 2012 level he wasn't. That said I still have no trouble with my homeboy getting the MVP, because I think stats guys underrate RBIs, and they always used to poo-poo stolen bases, at least until Mike Trout started getting them. While it is inescapable that Trout was statistically superior, I don't think his team was as dependent on him as the Tigers were on Cabrera. But the stuff about the Angels not winning: please, they were a better team than Detroit. The Tigers were underachievers all year, saved by 2 big bats, some consistent starting pitching and the collapse of a White Sox team that by rights had it in the bag. No reason to suspect any regression from Miggy, but I think Trout is an incredible talent and I see no reason he won't actually get better. A scary thought for the rest of the AL.
   34. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 26, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4376724)
The other thing is that Mike Trout is 21 years old. How big is he going to be in his late 20s or 30s? That's a big dude.
Trout put this picture up on his Facebook page today. Look at the guy's arms.
   35. Morty Causa Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:56 PM (#4376758)
That photo linked in 14 makes Trout the fish look like Shamu the whale--or Greg Luzinski. I bet he's lost a lot of speed at that weight, or will quickly if he doesn't take remedial action. However, Spring Training is not where you lose weight. You do it that way and you lose strength and endurance. And get hurt.
   36. Squash Posted: February 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM (#4376760)
Since when do baseball players do "intense conditioning" in spring training?

I think it's mostly the sweating in the sun all day in Arizona/Florida thing, plus they are doing a fair amount of windsprints - baseball coaches love windsprints for some reason. The David Ortiz's of the world are probably mostly taking it easy, but Trout seems like the kind of guy (and is young enough) that is probably still bouncing all over the place.
   37. bjhanke Posted: February 26, 2013 at 11:23 PM (#4376773)
Mirabelli (#10) - My comment (#4) was certainly pedantry, but I thought it necessary. The writer presents himself as making the point you cite him as making, but then he throws this loaded word "reality" in there, right at the end of the passage, to bias the discussion. I have enough writing background to really dislike that sort of thing, because it's the hallmark and starting point of propaganda. Yes, it was clear what point the writer was CLAIMING to make. But with that one word, he changed the point that he actually DID make, which ended up being that Cabrera is "real" and Trout is "not real." Apparently no one here was fooled, as the discussion did not go on to deal with "reality", which is a point in favor of the various posters on this thread. - Brock
   38. Shredder Posted: February 27, 2013 at 01:24 AM (#4376801)
I think stats guys underrate RBIs, and they always used to poo-poo stolen bases, at least until Mike Trout started getting them.
C'mon, Tim. You've been around long enough to know (you are the same Tim, right?) that stat guys have never really poo-pooed stolen bases when the guy stealing them is doing so at better than a 90% clip. Stat guys have rightly criticized stolen bases as weapon in the hands of a player or team who aren't consistently very successful. Stolen bases themselves have always been fairly valuable. It's all the caught stealings that usually go with them that aren't all that great.

Personally, I don't begrudge Cabrera his MVP. I don't think he should have won it, and I wouldn't have voted for him, but he certainly had a great case, and traditionally the award has gone to guys with the types of numbers he put up. It just seems like there have been about 5x as many columns from Detroit sportswriters defending the selection than there have been LA writers saying Trout really deserved (come to think of it, it hasn't even really been the local press backing Trout).
   39. alilisd Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4377258)
Compared to not running at all, baseball is a fairly intense cardio workout, especially for an outfielder.


I hope you're not serious. Do you honestly believe professional baseball players sit around the entire off season doing no physical training? They're lifting weights, sprinting, doing sport specific conditioning and skill work, working on mobility, agility, speed and quickness. Heck, college players are doing this. This is not the 50's and 60's where players took off season jobs and did nothing baseball related for months, or where resistance work was though to make you "musclebound."

And there is nothing about baseball which is "cardio," assuming you're using it as the common shorthand for aerobic exercise. Nothing a baseball player does is of enough duration to tap into the aerobic energy pathway. The longest effort a player could possibly put out is a full sprint around the bases, appoximately 120 yards. A 120 yard sprint lasts nowhere near long enough to push someone out of the anaerobic energy system and into the aerobic. Baseball is all anaerobic and primarily speed strength (moving a relatively light object such as a bat or a ball as fast as possible).
   40. BDC Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4377308)
there is nothing about baseball which is "cardio," assuming you're using it as the common shorthand for aerobic exercise. Nothing a baseball player does is of enough duration to tap into the aerobic energy pathway

Agreed. Outfielders have to accelerate from a standing position a few times a game, but how many meters are they running each time? And they're not trying to win a race, just tracking a baseball and indeed trying not to overrun it. This fact is one reason why I go nuts when someone excuses a major-league player for not running out a ground ball. Very few major-leaguers actually dog it down the line, but those who sometimes do puzzle the hell out of me. You're being asked to sprint 30 yards possibly once or twice a night, and being paid many thousand dollars to do so. So DO it.

Being a professional athlete is not a day at the beach, physically or mentally speaking, but there's a reason they play baseball games every night and football only once a week.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 07:25 PM (#4377318)
This fact is one reason why I go nuts when someone excuses a major-league player for not running out a ground ball. Very few major-leaguers actually dog it down the line, but those who sometimes do puzzle the hell out of me


I have zero problem with an established starter dogging down the line on a routine play. A hamstring injury can ruin a season, and if it's not necessary for the play, no reason to risk it. Mind you a guy trying to get a spot in the lineup, I don't accept them dogging, you have to prove yourself.

Edit:By dogging, I mean not going 100%... a fast jog or better should be expected at all times(unless you are injured and under instructions not to even do that)
   42. BDC Posted: February 27, 2013 at 09:02 PM (#4377352)
I have zero problem with an established starter dogging down the line on a routine play. A hamstring injury can ruin a season, and if it's not necessary for the play, no reason to risk it

Maybe so. OTOH a guy who can't run out a routine ground ball (but somehow can run out a deep grounder in the hole) is simply not as good a baseball player as other guys.

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