A square rooted slice of Detroit-style pizza from Carleton.
In high school, I had a very wise history teacher whose motto was that the best way to win a debate was to be able to make the argument for the other side better than your debate opponent. So, I decided to challenge myself. Can I make a case that Miguel Cabrera deserves the American League MVP over Mike Trout using sabermetrics?
...The problem is that in order to make the case that Mike Trout wasn’t quite as good as Cabrera, I had to completely bury my head in the sand on Mike Trout’s defense. (I also had to cherry pick where I made my adjustments to their respective values.)
And that seems to be the crux of the debate. The only universe in which Miguel Cabrera wins the AL MVP is one in which baserunning and defense have no value. In order to swallow my own argument, I have to believe that Mike Trout either is a merely pedestrian center fielder, or I have to assume that there is precious little difference between outfielders in their ability to play defense. Oddly enough, this sabermetrician now encourages people to watch an Angels game or two.
There’s a deficit of language in how to express that a player is good at playing defense. I can rattle off stats both flawed (*cough* batting average *cough*) and advanced that describe offense. Personally, I think most of it goes back to playground days where defense was the boring part, but that’s another article. As a sabermetrician, what I worry about is that when I come to a deficit of language, I will act like, well, an American, and just yell louder. But what I have to realize is that my own language is not very coherent, and even if it were, I’d still need to teach people how to speak it.
Miguel Cabrera might win the AL MVP when the ballots are counted, even though Mike Trout was the better player. And the sun will rise the next day.