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  1. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    15 Nov '12 15:34
    Nate Silver, as usual, makes the airtight case.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/the-statistical-case-against-cabrera-for-m-v-p/#more-37483

    The argument on Trout’s behalf isn’t all that complicated: he provided the greater overall contribution to his team. Trout was a much better defensive player than Cabrera, and a much better base runner. And if Cabrera was the superior hitter, it wasn’t by nearly as much as the triple crown statistics might suggest.

    -snip-

    Trout, with his speed, aggressiveness and good judgment on the bases, was also able to help the Angels in other ways, such as by scoring more often from second base when one of his teammates got a base hit. With the more detailed data available on everything that happens on the field, it is now possible to quantify these contributions as well.

    Over all, Trout contributed about 12 additional runs on the basepaths when compared with an average runner. The bulky Cabrera, by contrast, cost the Tigers about three runs on the bases.

    Trout is also the much better defensive player. Major League Baseball now records in detail exactly where each batted ball is hit. The best systems for measuring defense rely on this physical evidence, rather than pure statistical inference, in order to see whether a player makes more or fewer plays than his peers at the same position.

    One of these systems, Ultimate Zone Rating, estimates that Trout saved the Angels 11 runs with his defense in the outfield. Cabrera, a clumsy defender at third base who is more naturally suited to play first base, cost the Tigers 10 runs with his.

    Between his defense and his base running, therefore, Trout was about 35 runs more valuable to the Angels than Cabrera was to the Tigers. By contrast, the 14 additional home runs that Cabrera hit (44 against Trout’s 30) were worth about 22 extra runs for the Tigers, based on measures that convert players’ contributions to a common scale.

    Didn’t Cabrera also hit for a higher batting average? Yes, but barely: he hit .330 against Trout’s .326. And Trout had the slight edge in on-base percentage, .399 to .393.

    Trout also made his offensive contributions in a more difficult ballpark for hitters. Detroit’s Comerica Park once had a reputation as a pitcher’s haven, but that has not really been true since the Tigers moved the fences in in the mid-2000s.

    Angel Stadium of Anaheim, instead, is more pitcher-friendly, measuring 387 feet to the left-field power alley, one of the deepest distances in the majors.

    Although there are statistical formulas to adjust for these “park effects,” it is now also possible to measure the impact of ballpark dimensions through a visual inspection of the data.

    Of the 159 home runs hit at Comerica Park this season, for example, about 20 or 25 were not hit deep enough to leave the field at Angel Stadium, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker. Another 15 or 20 would have been borderline cases.

    Angel Stadium is shallower in straight center field, making up for much of the difference, but since most of Cabrera’s home runs came to the power alleys, playing in Anaheim would likely have hurt his statistics on balance. Trout, who hits to all fields, is less sensitive to his ballpark, and had slightly better overall numbers than Cabrera in road games.

    What about Cabrera’s superior R.B.I. total? Isn’t that evidence that he helped his team when it had the most on the line?

    In general, the consensus among statistical analysts is that the best hitters in the clutch are simply the best hitters over all. With the possible exception of a few outlying cases, most players’ statistics in clutch situations are similar to their overall batting statistics over the long run.

    Even if one believes this, however — that there is little predictive power in clutch hitting statistics — one could nevertheless form a coherent argument that they deserve consideration in the retrospective evaluation of players, such as in determining who had the more valuable season. A grand slam still counts more than a solo home run.

    Cabrera, in fact, was a very good clutch hitter in 2012, hitting .356 with nine home runs and 89 R.B.I.’s with runners in scoring position. Trout, by contrast, had 53 R.B.I.’s with runners in scoring position.

    But much of the difference simply reflects the fact that Cabrera hits third in the batting order, and had more opportunities to hit with runners on base. His 89 R.B.I.’s with runners in scoring position came in 205 plate appearances, a rate of 0.43 R.B.I.’s per opportunity. Trout’s 53 R.B.I.’s came in just 135 opportunities, since he is the Angels’ leadoff hitter. That yields a similar rate of production: 0.39 R.B.I.’s per plate appearance with runners in scoring position.

    -snip-

    In fact, there are now systems, like Win Probability Added, that measure all aspects of clutch performance in a comprehensive way. They account not just for the number of runners on base and the number of outs, but also the game score and the inning. A grand slam when a team trails by three runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth turns a near-certain loss into a win, giving a player maximal credit by this system. A grand slam when a team already leads 7-0 gets little credit, since the game is already in hand.

    According to this measure, Trout was actually slightly more valuable than Cabrera as an offensive player, considering the timing of his contributions. Add in his defense and base running, and it isn’t all that close a call.

    It may seem hard to argue against a player who won the triple crown. But Cabrera’s numbers, while worthy of an M.V.P. award in many seasons, weren’t historically great. His batting average, R.B.I. and home run totals would also have qualified for the American League’s triple crown in 2008. Before that, however, you would have to go back to 1972 to find a year in which his numbers were good enough to lead the league in all three categories.

    There is also the fact that Cabrera’s Tigers made the playoffs, while Trout’s Angels did not. But the Angels won more games (89) than the Tigers (88), missing the playoffs because they played in a harder division. Trout, moreover, began the year in the minors; the Angels went 81-58 in games in which he participated, equivalent to their winning 94 games over a full season.

    Still, the real progress in the statistical analysis of baseball is in the ability to evaluate the contributions that a player makes on the field in a more reliable and comprehensive way.

    Perhaps 10 or 20 years ago, when evaluations of base running, defense and clutch hitting were murkier, stat geeks would have argued that Cabrera deserved the M.V.P. on the basis of the hard evidence.

    Now that some of the “intangibles” have become measurable, we know that Trout did more of the little things to help his team win.

    It’s the traditionalists who are using statistics in a way that misses the forest for the trees.
  2. 15 Nov '12 16:33
    Originally posted by sh76
    Nate Silver, as usual, makes the airtight case.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/the-statistical-case-against-cabrera-for-m-v-p/#more-37483

    The argument on Trout’s behalf isn’t all that complicated: he provided the greater overall contribution to his team. Trout was a much better defensive player than Cabrera, and a much better b ...[text shortened]... traditionalists who are using statistics in a way that misses the forest for the trees.
    I do not think this is ridiculous in any way. Both were great. I'd vote for Trout but when Cabrera wins he certainly had a great year too.
  3. Subscriber shortcircuit
    The Energizer
    16 Nov '12 00:42
    Two major problems with your argument.

    Trout didn't win the Triple crown and Trout didn't take his team to the World Series.

    Cabrera wins
  4. Subscriber shortcircuit
    The Energizer
    16 Nov '12 02:39
    Originally posted by shortcircuit
    Two major problems with your argument.

    Trout didn't win the Triple crown and Trout didn't take his team to the World Series.

    Cabrera wins
    It wasn't even close. Cabrera wins in a landslide.
  5. 16 Nov '12 15:42
    Originally posted by shortcircuit
    Two major problems with your argument.

    Trout didn't win the Triple crown and Trout didn't take his team to the World Series.

    Cabrera wins
    None of this is relevant at all. It is not a post season award so it should not matter at all how the Tigers played in the playoffs.

    Trout's team had a better record (and his team had a way better record if you count the games in which Trout was in the Majors). Trout played in a much tougher division so they had a tougher schedule. Given that the Tigers played an easier schedule and had a worse record, I would not use team success to justify Cabrera's MVP.
  6. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    16 Nov '12 16:01
    Originally posted by shortcircuit
    Two major problems with your argument.

    Trout didn't win the Triple crown and Trout didn't take his team to the World Series.

    Cabrera wins
    The voters vote before the postseason begins, so the second argument is silly.

    The triple crown stats simply don't matter as much as the bigger picture stats that Nate discusses.

    Of course I knew all along that Cabrera would win. The sabermatricians haven't taken over yet. The old guard still have to die off before the writers can start caring about the things that actually win baseball games rather than those that have the tradition and make the highlight films.
  7. Subscriber shortcircuit
    The Energizer
    16 Nov '12 21:16
    Originally posted by quackquack
    None of this is relevant at all. It is not a post season award so it should not matter at all how the Tigers played in the playoffs.

    Trout's team had a better record (and his team had a way better record if you count the games in which Trout was in the Majors). Trout played in a much tougher division so they had a tougher schedule. Given that the T ...[text shortened]... easier schedule and had a worse record, I would not use team success to justify Cabrera's MVP.
    Um, I am totally aware that post season does not matter in the voting.
    Perhaps I should have re-phrased it, one man guided his team to the playoffs while
    the other did not. You like that better.

    I am pretty sure I got the triple crown part right though!!
  8. 17 Nov '12 13:18
    Originally posted by sh76
    Nate Silver, as usual, makes the airtight case.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/the-statistical-case-against-cabrera-for-m-v-p/#more-37483

    The argument on Trout’s behalf isn’t all that complicated: he provided the greater overall contribution to his team. Trout was a much better defensive player than Cabrera, and a much better b ...[text shortened]... traditionalists who are using statistics in a way that misses the forest for the trees.
    I dunno on this one bud. Havent seen a Triple Crown winner in a long, long, long time.
  9. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    17 Nov '12 20:08
    Originally posted by sh76
    The voters vote before the postseason begins, so the second argument is silly.

    The triple crown stats simply don't matter as much as the bigger picture stats that Nate discusses.

    Of course I knew all along that Cabrera would win. The sabermatricians haven't taken over yet. The old guard still have to die off before the writers can start caring about the ...[text shortened]... lly win baseball games rather than those that have the tradition and make the highlight films.
    The "old guard" got it right. The Angels were never really in the race as they trailed by 8.5 games on August 31st and never made a run. Trout was pedestrian in September 5 HR, 9 RBIs .289/.400/.500 after August 31st.

    By contrast, the Tigers trailed by two on August 31st but rallied and won their division. And Cabrera was the biggest reason why, his numbers from that point on were gaudy: 11 HRs, 30 RBIs .333/.395/.675 in 31 games.

    No contest. Trout was probably the best player based on his overall performance the entire year, but Cabrera was the MVP.
  10. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    18 Nov '12 01:50
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    The "old guard" got it right. The Angels were never really in the race as they trailed by 8.5 games on August 31st and never made a run. Trout was pedestrian in September 5 HR, 9 RBIs .289/.400/.500 after August 31st.

    By contrast, the Tigers trailed by two on August 31st but rallied and won their division. And Cabrera was the biggest reas ...[text shortened]... bly the best player based on his overall performance the entire year, but Cabrera was the MVP.
    I don't see why Trout should be punished because the Angels played in a better division. On the contrary, the Angels' 89 wins in a division with Texas and Oakland is far more impressive than Detroit's 88 in a far weaker division.
  11. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    18 Nov '12 09:14
    Originally posted by sh76
    I don't see why Trout should be punished because the Angels played in a better division. On the contrary, the Angels' 89 wins in a division with Texas and Oakland is far more impressive than Detroit's 88 in a far weaker division.
    If you think never being in the division race is more "impressive" than rallying to win one you're entitled to your opinion. Maybe some day the leagues will reward teams that finish third in a division and never come close to making the playoffs. So far they don't so when evaluating the Most Valuable Player, my humble opinion is that a guy who tears up the league in September and gets his team in the playoffs deserves that fact to be considered.
  12. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    18 Nov '12 18:00
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    If you think never being in the division race is more "impressive" than rallying to win one you're entitled to your opinion. Maybe some day the leagues will reward teams that finish third in a division and never come close to making the playoffs. So far they don't so when evaluating the Most Valuable Player, my humble opinion is that a guy who tears up t ...[text shortened]... e league in September and gets his team in the playoffs deserves that fact to be considered.
    The Angels were in the playoff race until the last few days and winning 89 in the west was far more impressive than 88 in the central.

    Your most interesting argument was that Cabrera had a better September than Trout and I admit I had failed to consider that argument, which is a reasonable one. But over the course of the whole season, it seems to me that Trout was more valuable.
  13. 19 Nov '12 14:22
    Originally posted by shortcircuit
    Um, I am totally aware that post season does not matter in the voting.
    Perhaps I should have re-phrased it, one man guided his team to the playoffs while
    the other did not. You like that better.

    I am pretty sure I got the triple crown part right though!!
    The guy whose team did not go to the playoff had a better record in a tougher division so I am not sure how much significance the "guiding to the playoffs" argument can carry.
  14. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    19 Nov '12 15:50
    Originally posted by quackquack
    The guy whose team did not go to the playoff had a better record in a tougher division so I am not sure how much significance the "guiding to the playoffs" argument can carry.
    A lot. A team that doesn't make the playoffs cannot win the World Series which is the goal of every team. Surely how "valuable" a player is is very much related to how much he contributes to a team's successful achievement of their ultimate goal. The Angels were never close to first and weren't even very close to making the expanded playoffs; they trailed Oakland and Baltimore by 4 1/2 games on September 20th with 12 games to go. So when assessing who was the Most Valuable Player in the league the fact that Cabrera tore it up in September and led his team to the playoffs while Trout slumped in September and his team never really made a run is quite relevant.
  15. 19 Nov '12 19:07
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    A lot. A team that doesn't make the playoffs cannot win the World Series which is the goal of every team. Surely how "valuable" a player is is very much related to how much he contributes to a team's successful achievement of their ultimate goal. The Angels were never close to first and weren't even very close to making the expanded playoffs; they traile ...[text shortened]... fs while Trout slumped in September and his team never really made a run is quite relevant.
    I strongly disagree with artificially putting more weight on September than the rest of the year. All games count the same in the standing and in the end the Angles won MORE games against TOUGHER competition.

    The reason the Tigers made the playoffs and the Angels did not has more to do with the fact that the Angels were (1) stupid and did not bring up Trout at the beginning of the season -- as soon as they rectified their mistake they completely turned around their season and ending up with more wins than the Tigers (2) the Tigers play in a much softer division and the White Sox collapsed late in the season while the A's did not. Leading your team to the playoffs is simply a silly argument when the Trout's team had a better record and played tougher competiton.

    Here's why I'd give it Trout:
    While the triple crown is truly great and Cabrera certain had a great year, Trouts year was even better. Trout is a much better defensive player and a much better base runner. So when both reach base Trout is much more valuable and for the half of the game you are in the field Trout is much better. In fact the only reason Cabrera is in the majors is because he can really hit.

    Neverthless, Trout had a better on base percentage, led the league in runs and stolen bases (safe over 90% of his attempts). Cabrera had pleanty of RBIs -- they certainly count but he produced many more outs (in fact he led the league in grounding into double plays) Advanced stats show RBI percentages in specific situations and the value of going to 1st to 3rd which can better compare how a lead off hitter like Trout would do if he had the same RBI chances as a middle order guy like Cabrera.