When the regional television broadcaster for Toronto Blue Jays games hired Gregg Zaun to be a talking head on the pre and post game shows, he offered a breath of fresh air to a fan base that previously tolerated a rather amateurish approach to presenting baseball on television. His insights into blocking pitches, pitch grips and base running were informative and his “no-nonsense” approach was entertaining and seemingly genuine.

At some point over the last two seasons, it’s safe to assume that Mr. Zaun was introduced to Don Cherry, the boisterous and xenophobic host of Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night In Canada, and a treasured voice to Rick-bags from across this nation of hosers. What was once informative and insightful has devolved into outlandish, as the charm of “no-nonsense” perspectives turned into the awkwardness of clichéd drivel spouted loudly without shame.

Mr. Zaun added to his ever-expanding repertoire of nonsense by sharing his thoughts on the American League MVP debate on Tuesday night with the following tweet:

Exhibiting a stunning lack of interest in ever auditioning for a role in a Major League front office, Mr. Zaun’s successful attempt at gaining attention on Tuesday night through his unabashed ignorance on how contributions are evaluated in baseball might have caused something of a negative reaction, but it does place him firmly in the category of master baiter.

And just so we’re clear, Miguel Cabrera has had an incredible season with his bat, most notably at collecting RBIs. However, we’d be remiss not to mention that he came up to the plate this season with a combined total of 444 runners on base. Mike Trout came to the plate with 305 men on base. There’s a bit of a difference there in opportunity.

But even with that difference, no one would argue that Mr. Carbrera wasn’t better at knocking in runs this season. He was the second best in all of baseball among regulars. However, there’s a whole lot more to be added to offensive value than the number of players you push across the plate, and even more to be added in terms of overall value. In almost every other element, Mike Trout is superior.

Ignoring this to offer a conveniently ignorant argument isn’t what we would’ve come to expect from Zaun when he first began introducing Blue Jays broadcasts. Unfortunately, his tossing of crumpled up and blank thoughts in our directions has become an all too familiar routine since his once promising debut.

Comments (50)

  1. I tired to troll that tweet but he didn’t bite.

  2. I like Zaun when he’s explaining mechanics, or specific situations within a game, which they built into his initial broadcasting foray way better than what he’s doing now. But he has no feel for evaluating personnel, and needs to ditch the “Zaun Cherry (copyright Drunk Jays fans)” shtick.

    • “I like Zaun when he’s explaining mechanics, or specific situations within a game”

      Meh. Plenty of guys could do that. I like the content but I don’t think Zaun is any smarter about this stuff than anyone else who played long in the game.

  3. am i in the minority that is sick of parkes referring to people as “Mr. last name” here when discussing baseball players/writers/managers?

  4. what are “linear weights”? my understanding is that when people say the problem with “linear weights in WAR”…they mean the way in which Slugging% values a triples 3x more than singles…when i think it should be obvious that a triple is (with some exceptions) not much more valuable than a double. which leads me to think: maybe slugging percentage is a garbage stat…because it seems like you could figure out the historical value that a double actually has towards leading to a run(s) being scored…either by the person who hit it, or whoever was ahead of them. but…i could be way off. i was thinking of reading “the book” – does it answer this type of question?

    anyway – this is to say: cabrera has a higher batting average – therefore, with runners in scoring position, you’d do better to have him at bat rather than trout. his lead in the RBI race, crudely measures that he, in fact, did get hits when men were on base…and that his team thought enough to bat him behind guys that get on base more…rather than leading off and relying on the 7,8,9 guys to get on base for him…

    what angels fans really should be wondering is: what the hell was mike scoscia doing batting trout leadoff all year? it likely cost him some mvp votes, but i wouldn’t be surprised if the RBIs he DIDN”T have an opportunity to get, actually evapourated WINS he could have produced in reality.

      • tangotiger.net….good spot. maybe the book is unecessary reading, after all.

        anyway, i think i was on the right track: linear weights just add up all the things mike trout did…without taking into account the fact that his manager did not deploy him in what most of us might agree would appear to be more advantageous situations for him to produce RBIs.

        so, you could say that part of cabrera’s “value” was that his manager knew he could put him in the middle of the lineup all year long. with trout – if he had suddenly gone cold…let’s say in july…everyone would have said “well, naturally he’s coming back down to earth” and socscia was correct not to make him a centrepiece of the lineup.

        anyway – i think this is a more interesting discussion than just badgering anyone that doesn’t acknowledge the greatness of mike trout.

        • linear weights just add up all the things mike trout did…without taking into account the fact that his manager did not deploy him in what most of us might agree would appear to be more advantageous situations for him to produce RBIs.

          You are correct BUT his manager put Mike Trout in a position to take MORE at bats, which helps his team score more runs due to Mike Trout’s marginally higher level of overall PRODUCTION (remember, the Angels scored more than the Tigers) and win more games (remember, the Angels won more games than the Tigers).

          Which is to say: the Angels better used their generational offensive weapon than the Tigers did.

          • nice – i’m trying to see how all these things work – i’ve only watched a few angels boradcasts, and so i was just thinking of ianetta’s pretty catcher-ish AVG…but then i saw that the bottom of their order actually gets on base far more than i’d assumed…

  5. I’ve almost started to like Jamie Campbell as a result of Zaun being such a deuche

  6. Trout’s offensive contributations are close to Cabrera’s. I figure, you can almost throw out RBIs and runs scored because they are almost entirely a function of the people that bat around you and where you bat in the order. It would be pretty hard to estimate how many runs Trout scored because of his base running that he wouldn’t have scored if he were slower.

    What you can looks at is OBP, SLG, and OPS all of which are very close with Cabrera in the lead. However, you have to consider the Trout turns a lot of singles into doubles by stealing bases. If you add the stolen bases to his doubles total (and subtract the singles for them) then he would have a SLG close to Cabrera and a similar OPS. So that’s a dead heat.

    So really, what all of this comes down to is this: Cabrera hit 14 more home runs than Trout. Those 14 homeruns probably scored around 20-25 runs for his team. His defense at third took away some of those runs (hard to say, 2-5?). The question is was Trout’s defense in centrefield and his general baserunning (not counting steals because we have already accounted for them by adjusting his OPS) worth 20 runs or more for his team?

    If you think the answer is ‘Yes’, then Trout is your MVP. If you think the answer is ‘No’, then Cabrera is your MVP.

    Personally, I’ve been flip-flopping over this, but I think the answer is probably ‘no’. And I think it’s a far more justifiable position than Keith Law or Jeff Passan would have you believe.

    • weighted runs created plus, includes park factors and base running (100 is league average, like OPS+ but with more oomph)

      Miguel Cabrera: 167 wRC+

      Mike Trout: 174 wRC+

      • So I’m to believe that a 4% difference in a stat based on such things as theoretical as ‘park factors’ and base running metrics should trump something as tangible as 14 homeruns? No thanks.

        • Why are they theoretical? They count stolen bases and caught stealing, not the other kind of “theoretical” things like going first to third, which is pretty simple to count and quantify.

          • Park factors are very theoretical. My understanding is that they have been shown to fluctuate year to year and are heavily dependent on who played there. It is very difficult to accurately quantify the ‘true value’ of the park factor.

            As for baserunning, what is the inherent value of going first to third on a single instead of first to second on a single if the next hit is a single, double, triple, homerun, pop up, ground out, walk, etc. anyway? It really only matters when the next hit is a deep fly. In many cases where a runner has gone first to third it has actually added nothing in terms of run creation.

            • In many cases where a runner has gone first to third it has actually added nothing in terms of run creation.

              This just ain’t so. A runner standing on third base has a much greater chance of scoring than one on second. See also: fallacy of the predetermined outcome.

          • Re: “Fallacy of the pre-determined outcome”.

            While I see your point in general, I don’t think that really applies here. I don’t think the defense or pitching will really change that much with a runner on third versus a runner on second. Either way, it’s a runner in scoring position and will be defended accordingly.

          • Further, when you assess an MVP it should be based on what they DID accomplish, versus what they COULD have accomplished.

            The question should be: in the instances in which Trout took an extra base, did the team get a run they wouldn’t have had otherwise? Not, did Trout do things that should help his team score more runs in theory, regardless of whether or not they did.

            For obvious reasons, the first question is almost impossible to answer, which is why people defer to the second. But let’s call it for what it is rather than asserting it as a truth.

            • I don’t agree. By standing on second rather than third, he raises the Angels run expectancy. Period. Just like RBI & runs and whatever, we should not credit/demerit him for things other players do. Getting an extra 90 feet helps.

              • assessing things that way gets you pretty far afield. Raising expectancies doesn’t create wins. Only the actual outcomes create wins or losses.

    • You can’t just say the difference is 14 home runs. Everything counts. Trout has the edge in triples 8-0. Cabrera has hit into 28 double plays (Trout 7). The steals are 49-7,. etc. Cabreras has done his production using way more outs, etc.

      That’s the value of using things like wRC, etc. – they count everything. And that’s where Zaun is so lazy – he just decides aribtrarily that defense, speed, and whatever else he doesn’t like don’t count. If that’s his opinion, fine, but he shouldn’t pretend he’s being objective about it.

      How many runs did each produce? How many runs did each prevent? Runs translate to wins. Everything counts.

  7. Is there a stat that accounts for the relationship between RBI and the number of opportunities to hit those RBI?

    Something like…..oRBI.

    RBI / [total runners on base for all PAs]

    If I can just invent that, something way more descriptive and advanced must already exist.

    Cabby: 0.313 oRBI
    Trout: 0.272 oRBI

  8. RBI? He’s joking, right?

  9. Zaun on twitter:
    “ever hit 3rd in an MLB lineup? they are just lobbing it up there”

    To which I’d respond (if i had twitter)
    “Have you ever hit 3rd in a major league lineup?”

    “yes, 16 times!”

  10. You know what I think the problem is? There’s no BBWAA Offensive Player of the Year Award.

    And yet, the problem can be fixed so damn easily. You have the Hank Aaron Award, given to the hitter — read, offensive player of the year — every season, during the World Series. It started off right, and Delgado won it twice with the Jays in two years where he should have won MVP (don’t get me started on his losing that award to A-Rod in 2003). Now it’s voted on entirely by the fans, which is why Kevin Youkilis won it one year, mostly because he played for the Red Sox and was a popular guy.

    I think the Aaron Award needs to be given to the BBWAA. Make it the Cy Young equivalent for hitters, and suddenly your MVP problem is solved. Sometimes guys might win both. Sometimes there will still be a controversy. But for the first time, you’d be able to point to the MVP and say that it’s actually to the “player judged to be MOST VALUABLE to his team”. So in 2012, regardless of whether Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, he should win the Hank Aaron Award and Mike Trout should win MVP. That’s what should happen. Whether it will is another story. I just wish the Aaron Award could be treated very seriously, instead of letting fans vote for it…and I have a strange feeling the fan vote will end up giving that one to Jeter.

    Just one thing about the Triple Crown: I’ve changed my views on RBIs, no question. It’s a sexy statistic, and there’s a lot of myth about it — Hack Wilson’s 191 RBI in 1930 haven’t even come close to being seriously challenged, and only 3 players ever (Aaron, Bonds, Cap Anson) have recorded 2000 RBI — but beyond that basic stuff/myth/legend, RBIs don’t tell you much of anything. Same with batting average. they are both very sexy statistics, there’s some mythical numbers, but we have better tools to judge hitters nowadays.
    That said, nobody’s won a Triple Crown since 1967. Cabrera shouldn’t be MVP this year, but he’s one of the best pure hitters of our time, he’s played his whole career in ballparks where hitters go to die (Dolphin and Comerica), and he’s doing something that we may not see for awhile. So yeah, RBIs are mostly useless, average doesn’t tell you as much as the other slash lines, and Cabrera’s not the MVP, but for this week I say fuck all of that…we’re going to see a Triple Crown winner. Even if you’re a sabermetric machine, just sit back and enjoy this one as a baseball fan. It’s still a really neat moment in baseball history that may not happen again for another 45 years.

  11. you are fighting a 100 year plus long uphill battle

    people who have jobs in baseball know Trout is by far the most valuable player

    that’s gonna have to be enough for the bloggers for now

    you will never convince my dad Trout wins over Cabrera in MVP with fancy stats he can’t be bothered to understand – even though they make much more sense in player evaluation

  12. It’s crude but I took a look at each player’s RBI stats with RISP

    Cabrera: 174AB, 89RBI or 0.51 RBI/AB
    Trout: 110AB, 53RBI or 0.48 RBI/AB

    Had trout had more situations i think the 50 RBI differential would have been far less extreme. Add in Trouts 20 additional runs scored (again less games) and you barely have to dip into diffensive metrics to look at run production

  13. all the sabr nerds should get in a line and bend the fuck over so Cabrera can shove his MVP award up each one of their asses.

  14. Triple Crown. Last time? Yaz. 1967. This is not entirely meaningless.

    • Last time a rookie had a season as good as Trout’s? 1964. The Triple Crown is invalidated by that alone, let alone the 100 other reasons why it’s a layman award.

  15. Attn. all Trout supporters with a sizable mouthpiece (ie. the authors). Why not point out that the Angels will win more games than the Tigers this season? I know it somewhat validates the bullshit that a player is only the most valuable if his team is a winner, but it certainly undercuts a major (dick fingers) argument (close dick fingers) for Cabrera’s case.

  16. 21 year old tearing up the league as a rookie. Last time? Lynn 1975 (23 years old). This is not entirely meaningless.

    • Agreed! Trout wins rookie of the year in a landslide! Hopefully Trout’s career lasts longer than Fred Lynn’s did. Still, not in the same league as a triple crown year.

  17. “Here is our latest segment of Gregg Zaun’s 3 WAYS TO WIN: 1. THROW STRIKES! 2. DONT THROW BALLS 3. SCORE MORE RUNS THAN THE OTHER TEAM! Jamie campbell: thank you for your terrific insight greg. Now to buck and tabby for the game.”

  18. I think the most futile thing about the MVP debate this year, is the expectation by the Trout supporters that the MVP should be based on statistics (specifically their statistics, not other people’s statistics) and logic.

    Since when has the MVP award gone to the most valuable player? Since when has it been based on ‘real’ stats? It’s decided by feel-good factors, newsworthiness, column-inches, where a player’s team finishes in its division, and a host of other things like ‘playing the game the right way’ and ‘veteran leadership’.

    The truth about someone like Zaun, I would hazard, is that he fundamentally does not think a rookie deserves to be MVP over a similarly qualified (if inferior) veteran. The MVP is actually chosen, moreover, by journalists, who will always pick a good story (“Triple Crown”, “Historic!”) over nameless logic.

    If you want an award for the statistically most productive player, you need to create it first, and then you need to make the selection strictly by the numbers, and keep the journalists the fuck out of the equation. In the mean time, get over it – Cabrera is going to win by a mile.

  19. Am I the only oned who LOL @ master baiter?

  20. I am hereby kicking off my campaign to reinstate Jaime Campbell onto the TV broadcast team. I’d rather listen to Rance Mullinicks than Bucks rasp

  21. I don’t even see why there’s a debate here? trout and the Angels didn’t make the postseason. that was more than enough too disqualify Bautista but I haven’t heard mention of it this year. fuck off mvp

    • So the Angels superior record (against superior competition) doesn’t matter to you, at all?

      • That was a tongue in cheek comment about the stupidity of MVP voting and how annoyed I still am about verlander winning it last year. just because of that I would be annoyed if trout won it this year even though he won’t.

  22. Should speed and defense decide baseball’s MVP? http://bit.ly/OaJQ37

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