Miguel Cabrera in Perspective
On Monday we explained why we feel that Angels’ rookie sensation Mike Trout should win the American League MVP award. While we maintain that the numbers back up our argument, we concede that a similar argument can be made for Tigers’ third baseman Miguel Cabrera to win the prize as well. In a debate that has divided opinion more than any presidential election, only a fool would deny that there are valid reasons for each player to win. While Cabrera is not without his supporters, we thought it was only fair to break down his major selling points in the same way we did for Mike Trout.
Our defense of Cabrera will rely purely on the facts, rather than any emotional or historical reason. We do not believe, like others, that the Triple Crown should be a major factor in the MVP vote. The Triple Crown is based on three arbitrary categories that were decided the most important in baseball over 100 years ago. If Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton had hit two extra home runs to ruin the Triple Crown, it would have done nothing to lessen the impact of Cabrera’s season.
Additionally, we will not argue that Cabrera deserves to win because Detroit made the playoffs and the Angels didn’t. That type of evidence held up by writers too lazy to look at the standings to see that the Angels finished with a better record than the Tigers.
With all that in mind, we break down Cabrera’s case for the MVP, by the numbers.
- Cabrera led the league in six major offensive categories (RBIs, HR, average, slugging, OPS and total bases) while Trout only led in the categories (OPS+, SB, runs).
- Cabrera led the league in Runs Created, with four more than Trout.
- Cabrera played in 22 more games than Trout.
- Cabrera’s move to third base opened up a spot for Prince Fielder, who OPS’d .937, nearly 400 points higher than the player he replaced posted in 2011 — Brandon Inge with .548
- Without him, the remainder of the Tigers posted a WAR of 7.6. Without Trout the Angels still scored a 11.4.
- In the second half of the season Cabrera OPS’d 1.081, compared to a .958 OPS for Trout.
- In the last month of the season, with both teams in the playoff race, Cabrera OPS’d 102 points higher than Trout.
- With runners on and two outs, Cabrera posted a monster OPS of 1.201, Trout only managed a .782 clip.
- In games that were late and close (7th inning or later, score within one run), Cabrera’s OPS was 1.040 with a .337 average. In the same situations Trout hit a measly .784 with a .277 average.
- In fact, in the 7th-9th innings, Cabrera boasted a slash line of .326/,403/.657 compared to Trout’s .255/.360/469.
- The Tigers won 86 games with Cabrera in the lineup. The Angels only won 81 in games Trout appeared.
As you can see, it’s relatively easy to argue the case for Miguel Cabrera. While Mike Trout has the clear lead in WAR and was the better defensive player, Cabrera excelled when it mattered most, late in the season and late in games. We still would vote for Mike Trout to win the MVP, but we can not fault any writer who votes the other way (assuming of course they don’t cite the Triple Crown, the playoffs, the fact that Trout was a rookie, or any other cosmetic bullshit that people seem to want to cite).