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Friday, November 16, 2012

Keri: Mike Trout Is the Real MVP, Miguel Cabrera Is the Players’ MVP

As Jonah points out…“One more for the pile‏.”

But when it comes to figuring out which player provided the most value to his team, players are unreliable sources. Not because they don’t know the game. It’s because of the way the game doles out incentives.

One of the reasons most commonly cited by players interviewed on the AL MVP race for Cabrera’s supremacy was runs batted in, or more broadly, the general skill of run-producing. Ever see a player hit a sacrifice fly, scoring a runner from third with less than two outs? Watch the dugout reaction. The player who scored the run might’ve worked an eight-pitch walk, stolen second, hustled to third on a grounder, and scored on a relatively shallow fly ball. The player who hit the fly ball is still going to get the majority of the back slaps in the dugout. If the player who drove in the run did so by hitting a ground ball to the right side, there’s a non-zero chance the umpires will stop the game, so everyone in attendance can throw a parade to honor the hitter’s incredible selflessness and team play. But now try the same exercise at the end of a game, in a walk-off situation. No matter the circumstances, no matter what lengths the player who scored the winning run went to before crossing home plate, the mob of ecstatic teammates always gravitates toward the player who drove in the run. This is one form of incentive — the respect and admiration of your teammates.

...So what would you expect the players to say? Every piece of evidence in front of them, be it dugout handshakes or mega-dollars, points to home runs and especially RBIs being the best way to get rewarded. When presented with what seems to them like overwhelming proof that Cabrera was far more valuable than the player who scored 20 more runs, stole 45 more bases, took the extra base far more often, hit into 21 fewer double plays, and played overwhelmingly superior defense, they’re going to side with Cabrera.

That doesn’t make players experts on the subject. It just means they respond to rewards, like all other human beings. And like all other human beings, they make mistakes. They just made one here.

Repoz Posted: November 16, 2012 at 06:37 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Darren Posted: November 16, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4304696)
This is a good, long, exhaustive article. Too bad it got posted after everyone got sick of this topic.
   2. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: November 16, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4304719)
Mike Trout Is The Real MVP

Yes, because something like 'valuable' with a fluid definition that is calculated differently by everyone can be decided with absolute certainty. -Catch phrase warning!- I mean, obviously.

   3. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 16, 2012 at 08:13 PM (#4304724)
That doesn’t make players experts on the subject.

The "subject" doesn't lend itself to experts or expertise. It's not weighty enough.

And how can you not laugh at the idea that baseball players don't know anything about baseball, front office people don't know anything about baseball, people who write about baseball don't know anything about baseball, most lifelong fans don't know anything about baseball, but guys who calculate WAR are experts about baseball?
   4. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4304729)
And how can you not laugh at the idea that baseball players don't know anything about baseball, front office people don't know anything about baseball

According to comment 25 in this thread, the players and front office people disagreed on the identity of the MVP. Appeal to authority works better when the authorities aren't arguing amongst themselves.
   5. JJ1986 Posted: November 16, 2012 at 08:35 PM (#4304731)
What about those who are front office people and guys who calculate WAR?
   6. depletion Posted: November 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4304880)
I think if people were at ease with the MVP being partly a luck award, they would be more at ease with Cabrera winning it. The award is not for the most talented player, or the player who would do the most given an equal opportunity. Cabrera was lucky to be on a team that presented him with many opportunites to drive in runs, but did the deed and got the most RBI's.
   7. OsunaSakata Posted: November 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4304940)
I think if people were at ease with the MVP being partly a luck award, they would be more at ease with Cabrera winning it.

To me, the luck factor would be if a player put up insane numbers based on an unsustainable BABIP. He would be the deserving MVP, but I wouldn't pick him high in the fantasy draft next year.

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