This piece originally ran on Ocotber 4th. Given the attention that Trout and Cabrera are likely to receive today, I believed it had been probably worth running again.
The AL MVP debate continues to rage on, and at this point, the majority of the arguments have already been made on both sides. If you think the Triple Crown ought to always be rewarded by having an MVP, youre voting for Miguel Cabrera. If you think the winner of the award needs to come from a playoff team, youre voting for Miguel Cabrera. If you think that WAR is really a decent measure of player value, youre voting for Trout. At this point, both sides are basically just yelling at one another, with no one is changing their minds.
However, for those who are uncomfortable with those positions and can be undecided, I wanted to provide yet another perspective around the i sue. The the truth is the case for Cabrera requires the a sumption that baserunning and defense have marginal value, which position players should really by evaluated by their hitting statistics. The case for Cabrera also wants you Mike Quick Jersey to definitely take context into consideration, since Cabrera drove in so many more runs than Trout did, and desires Cabrera to get credit for his accomplishments with men on base. Interestingly enough, there exists a metric here on FanGraphs that measures only offense and credits hitters for their performances with men on base. At the risk of contributing to the alphabet soup, I think its worth taking a look at this little-used metric that measures exactly what the Cabrera contingent wants us to measure.
This metric is known as RE24. Its been on the site for a long time, and it is like a part of our Win Probability section. We dont use it a lot, because in general we would rather talk about players from a context-neutral perspective, but for the reason for this discu sion, it could you need to be the perfect metric.
RE24 is basically the difference between the run expectancy when a hitter comes to home plate and when his at-bat ends. For instance, September 16th, Cabrera came to home plate against Joe Smith with runners initially and second and 2 outs, a situation where the Tigers could be expected to score 0.33 operates on average. Cabrera hit a 3 run home run, so that they actually scored three runs, and RE24 gives Cabrera credit for +2.67 runs, the space between what they were expected to score and what they really scored.
Unlike with context-neutral statistics like wRC+, RE24 takes the number of outs and quantity of baserunners into account. It doesn't a sume that all home runs are equal, nor will it treat a strikeout having a man on third base and something out as yet another out. The rewards for performing with men on base are higher, and the blame for failing in those self same situations is steeper as well. This is really a metric that e sentially quantifies the total Nnamdi Asomugha Jersey offensive value of a player based on the situations that he actually faced. This isn't a theoretical metric. If you hit a three run homer, you get more credit than should you hit a solo homer. If you are consistently getting hits with two outs to drive in runs, you receive more credit than if those hits come with no outs and also the bases empty. And, of course, its only an offensive metric, so theres no defensive component, no position adjustments, with no replacement level. This is just upright offense, adjusted for the context from the situations they faced.
Heres the AL leaderboard with this season. If you dont wish to click the link, Ill just reproduce the top five here.
1. Edwin Encarnacion: +55.84 runs2. Mike Trout: +54.273. Prince Fielder: +50.594. Miguel Cabrera: +47.435. Josh Hamilton: 44.44
Offense only. Context Included. Trout is just barely behind Edwin Encarnacion for that league lead, and slightly ahead of Miguel Cabrera, who is actually second on by himself team.
I know these new-fangled advanced stats could be scary, however this isnt some type of black box in which you have to take our word for it. We have RE24 on each players Play Log, so that you can see the exact amount of value that each player was credited with on each and every offensive play these were involved in all year long. Heres the very best five plays from Cabreras play log, for example:
9/16 vs Trey Burton Jersey Joe Smith, 2 on, 2 out, 3 run HR: +2.67 runs9/18 vs Je se Chavez, 3 on, 0 out, Grand Slam: +2.16 runs9/29 vs Casey Fien, 2 on, 0 out, 3 run HR: +2.00 runs4/8 vs Alfredo Aceves, 2 on, 0 out, 3 run HR: +1.99 runs7/24 vs Joe Smith, 1 on, 2 outs, 2 run HR: +1.88 runs
Theres evidence of Cabreras monstrous clutch LeSean McCoy Jersey September in RE24, as his most valuable outcomes all came in the final little while. Actually, Mike Trout only had one plate appearance all year long where his RE24 was over +2 runs a 3 run homer off Felix Hernandez in August so Cabreras certainly had more big moments where his ability to drill the ball within the wall created runs for the Tigers offense.
So, exactly why is Trout in front of Cabrera? And, for instance, exactly why is Cabrera behind even their own teammate, Prince Fielder, in addition to Encarnacion, who is not even just in the MVP discu sion?
It comes back to double plays. I noted a few weeks ago that Cabrera had hit into an AL leading 28 double plays. Turns out, a lot of those were big-time rally killers. 12 from the 28 double plays Cabrera hit into lowered the run expectancy by a minumum of one run; Trout only had two plate appearances all season where the run expectancy went down that much in a single play. Because RE24 can be obtained for every play, and simply acce sible from the play logs, its simple to put each players individual performances into groups, therefore we can easily see the distribution of the offensive events.
Player+1 and up0 to +10 to -1-1 and downTrout542693882Cabrera7721940612
Cabrera had 23 more highly visible significant offensive plays that generated +1 runs or more than expected in line with the situation he was put into. Those plays are extremely valuable, and Cabrera was credited with 97 runs in those 77 plays. Meanwhile, Trout only created 66 runs in his 54 big plays, so were taking a look at a 31 run advantage for Cabrera in high visibility Jordan Hicks Jersey plays. This is whats driving Cabreras narrative everyone remembers these plays, and saw Cabrera come through in big situations more often than they saw Trout do the same.
However, Trout comprises the gap and then some within the other 600+ plays that matter as well. While he had 23 fewer big positive plays, he'd 50 additional smaller positive plays, all of which contributed to the Angels offensive performance. He also had 28 fewer negative value plays, including 10 fewer which were extremely negative, thanks primarily to his capability to avoid the double play.
You can go through each players play logs and see wherever they earned and lost credit. Theres no replacement level here. Were not dealing with defensive metrics that require some subjective inputs and cant easily be replicated. This is just pure offense, and the total value of all of the plays that both Trout and Cabrera were involved in.
And Trout still comes out on the top. Ignore defense. Ignore such things as going first to third on one, or using the extra base on a fly ball. Ignore WAR. Trout still wins. This is when amazing his season actually. Even should you strip away things that make Mike Trout special, he was still being the best offensive performer in the American League this season, even while starting the season in the minors. This isnt only the best performance of 2012 its among the best individual performances within the history of baseball.