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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Olbermann: The Winner Of The Debate: Mike Trout

The Last Word with…Keith Olbermann.

I am so old that the previous two Triple Crowns were won in a) the first year I had any awareness of the game, and b) the first year I was a true fan.

I got kinda spoiled.

It was – and is – a singular accomplishment. Miguel Cabrera deserves all the praise. He deserves to be in the company of F. Robby and Yaz and all the rest. He does not deserve the Most Valuable Player Award.

I know, I know, I’m the traditionalist and the one who whined here about Felix Hernandez getting the Cy Young last year. And I’m not going to hang this entirely on the idea that historically there was nothing automatic about a Triple Crown equaling MVP (ask not just Ted Williams, but Lou Gehrig). But I also have an appreciation of (if not a slavish dedication to) all the statistics that have come into the game since Carl Yastrzemski’s matchless September got him his place in history in 1967. And the thing being left out of the arguments about Cabrera versus Mike Trout is that the reason “The Triple Crown” was such a big deal all that time was that it wasn’t just the imaginary title we gave the leader of three Glamor Batting Categories – it was the imaginary title we gave the leader of the only three batting categories we had.

...In short, Trout was about 30 percent more valuable than the runner-up (and that’s with Robinson Cano’s explosive finish), and he doubled the value of the 12th best player in the league. For contrast, the top five guys in NL War finished in a grouping of 0.5 (Buster Posey 7.2, McCutchen 7.0, Braun 6.8, Molina 6.7, Wright 6.7) allowing room for interpretation and argument. To get down to half the value of the WAR champ, you have to go to Carlos Beltran and David Freese and a tie for 33rd.

That room for argument is non-existant in the American League. Miguel Cabrera won a Triple Crown, and Mike Trout’s season was 54 percent more valuable.

Which is, at minimum, the added value of all the new statistics, since Yaz won, and I was a kid, and there were only 20 teams – and “The Triple Crown” was the best we had.

Repoz Posted: October 06, 2012 at 08:45 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Bug Selig Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4256705)
Miguel Cabrera won a Triple Crown, and Mike Trout’s season was 54 percent more valuable.


54, really? That's at least one too many significant digits.

Not quarrelling with the conclusion (despite a zip code that begins with 48) but this kind of statement is what the mouth-breathers like to use against us. Most of us agree that any WAR comparison has a +/- just about equal to the highest dWAR of any of the players being discussed. As he notes, you could vote for any of 5 guys in the NL and not be wrong. Trout has enough of an edge that the uncertainty is only regarding how much better he was than anyone else. Some credibility is lost when we pretend to know that answer to within a fraction of a gnat's ass.
   2. KT's Pot Arb Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4256759)
Exactly, having two different WARs is proper and right because it forces us to recognize the inherent uncertainty, but again it is a weapon for the mouth breathers to dismiss the idea completely.
   3. Tippecanoe Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4256772)
it is a weapon for the mouth breathers to dismiss the idea


this kind of statement is what the mouth-breathers like to use against us


People with sinus trouble just don't understand WAR.

   4. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4256837)
I still do not know why War needs to ever be mentioned in this "debate" except at the end as a stat that confirms the argument, not the other way around.
   5. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4256864)
I still do not know why War needs to ever be mentioned in this "debate" except at the end as a stat that confirms the argument, not the other way around.

I agree with this. WAR need not be mentioned in order to make a case for Trout. Personally, I find the NL-MVP race to be much more interesting.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 06, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4256868)
I still do not know why War needs to ever be mentioned in this "debate" except at the end as a stat that confirms the argument, not the other way around.

You've got it backward. First we look at the WAR and say "Hang on a minute, that seems to indicate that Trout is way more valuable". Then that should make us look at the actual stats and say "Yes, clearly he's far ahead in baserunning; he has only 7 GIDP and Cabrera has 28; their rate stats are similar though Cabrera has more slugging. For some reason the park adjustments have been changed to say that the Angels play in an extreme pitchers' park and the Tigers don't; not sure about that, but Comerica is definitely good for righties and Cabrera is a righty, so we'll say OPS+ is correct and his rate stats would be lower than Trout's if they played on the same team. As for defense, it's not possible to have one stat that compares people at different positions, but Trout is obviously more valuable than Cabrera. So when it comes to being an all-around asset to the team, Trout wins."
   7. eric Posted: October 06, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4256909)
You've got it backward. First we look at the WAR and say "Hang on a minute, that seems to indicate that Trout is way more valuable". Then that should make us look at the actual stats and say "Yes, clearly he's far ahead in baserunning; he has only 7 GIDP and Cabrera has 28; their rate stats are similar though Cabrera has more slugging. For some reason the park adjustments have been changed to say that the Angels play in an extreme pitchers' park and the Tigers don't; not sure about that, but Comerica is definitely good for righties and Cabrera is a righty, so we'll say OPS+ is correct and his rate stats would be lower than Trout's if they played on the same team. As for defense, it's not possible to have one stat that compares people at different positions, but Trout is obviously more valuable than Cabrera. So when it comes to being an all-around asset to the team, Trout wins."


Of course, that entire narrative is exactly what WAR is doing, so that narrative doesn't tell us anything except break down how WAR came at its conclusion. That narrative actually waters down the argument because WAR attempt to objectively quantify how much value Cabrera's hitting had vs Trout's defense and base running, etc whereas using the eyeball test we are restricted to such imprecise arguments as "Trout is close in hitting, while miles better in baserunning and defense and so he clearly wins." Those arguments are less persuasive since, because hitting is the most valuable of the three attributes, it is possible to conjure up a situation in which player A has a "small" hitting advantage, player B has relatively "large" baserunning and defense advantages but player A is still better overall (that doesn't apply in this case by any means, but that's what WAR is for: attempting the accurately quantify the various factors in the argument).
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4256917)
You've got it backward. First we look at the WAR and say "Hang on a minute, that seems to indicate that Trout is way more valuable".


No you don't.
First you go to to bb-ref stats, sort by ops+ and you look for the top 15-25 or so names. Look at all the other numbers on that page and rank them in your head based upon games played, plate appearances etc.... After you do that, then you look at baserunning, even gidp to get a rough idea of the players value on the base paths. Then you look into the players position and make a mental adjustment on your ranking of the players based upon position and the quality of their defense, then you look at your list and vote that way after you do whatever methodology you use to put pitchers on the ballot(you cannot ignore pitchers, it's against the mvp rules.)

If after doing your rough rankings, you feel it's close, you look deeper, go into risp stats, clutch stats, if you are from the camp that believes making the post season is more important for the ballot you make that adjustment logically by looking at the teams record when the guy played and maybe give bonus points for his performance in September if they were in a pennant race etc.

After all is said and done, you might want to look at war to see if it agrees with you or if you want to evaluate someone that you missed because their defense is so incredible that they weren't on the top 25 ops+ hitters in the league.


If you want to look at counting stats to get a quick idea of how to adjust for playing time instead of using your own thought process, sort by rc
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM (#4256920)
That narrative actually waters down the argument because WAR attempt to objectively quantify how much value Cabrera's hitting had vs Trout's defense and base running, etc whereas using the eyeball test we are restricted to such imprecise arguments as "Trout is close in hitting, while miles better in baserunning and defense and so he clearly wins." Those arguments are less persuasive since, because hitting is the most valuable of the three attributes, it is possible to conjure up a situation in which player A has a "small" hitting advantage, player B has relatively "large" baserunning and defense advantages but player A is still better overall (that doesn't apply in this case by any means, but that's what WAR is for: attempting the accurately quantify the various factors in the argument).


Those arguments are for sheep, Not thinking people.

Why take all the numbers at face value. I really disagree with the positional adjustments of war, the defensive adjustment of war, it's mostly useless stat for pitchers, it's beyond useless for relievers, and it undervalues catchers, firstbaseman and utility players. With this many flaws, it should never be the first step in the debate.
   10. calhounite Posted: October 06, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4257049)
MLB stands for MFing Batter. (Yea, the F was changed to L to protect the innocent). Essentially composed of Hitters who can do that one impossible thing. Hit that MF ball that's actually going so fast within a hitter's purview, it can't even be seen. Yea, it's required that they field a position, but it's like, well, there's always the garbage can first-Dunn-WHAT THA-make that left field.

The problem with War is fielding means something like relative to. There is no relative to. Yea, it means something but relative to means getting the Barneys.

Still would vote for Trout.

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