There are worse crimes in the deep annals of BBWAA vote butchery than voting Miguel Cabrera as the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2012. SB Nation ran down some of the worst winners and extraneous votes from throughout the years. Cabrera’s win does not belong anywhere near such a list.

Miguel Cabrera is not a bad MVP selection by any stretch of the imagination. He won the freaking Triple Crown, a feat unseen in baseball since 1967. His team made the playoffs – though his team plays in a very weak division and the best pitcher in baseball (and Cy Young runner-up) and a $200 million dollar slugger rank among his team mates.

Some twists of fate coupled with Cabrera’s incredible performance placed him atop three key statistical leaderboards, fast-tracking him to immortality (key if largely irrelevant in an “on the field” baseball sense) and delivering Miguel Cabrera the 2012 MVP award. I don’t care how cosy your ballpark: .330/.393/.606 is really, really good! 200 hits is good, 44 league-leading home runs is great.

Cabrera spent the season at or near third base, giving his all at the hot corner. While no one confuses him for Brooks Robinson, his portly friend Prince and many other top sluggers could not pull off the same trick after more than four years on the other side of the diamond.

The problem, if there is one, is that Mike Trout’s season was better. Mike Trout is probably a better baseball player than Miguel Cabrera. He did not hit for as much power as the Tigers third baseman but he reached base at a higher rate than Cabrera, a higher rate than all but two hitters in the AL.

He also ran the bases better than anyone else, he played defense in the outfield better than anyone else, and hit for more power than anyone has any right to expect of a base-stealing fly catcher – Trout’s 30 home runs ranked him 13th in the American League. In 2012, in the eyes of many around the game, Mike Trout was the most valuable player in baseball.

But Mike Trout was not voted MVP – that goes to Miguel Cabrera. Congratulations.

Can anyone watch the two MVP favorites play and come away thinking Miguel Cabrera is capable of doing more to help his team win? If only watch only the time spent directly in the batters box, maybe. But the game is played beyond the confines of the pitcher/batter confrontation. In those many capacities, Trout exceeds the contributions of Cabrera.

But Cabrera made a different kind of history and made the playoffs (with all the inherent advantages build into that construct) so he gets the award. His Triple Crown will live forever and Mike Trout must wait for the planets to align once again.

Robinson Cano’s amazing season falls by the wayside. Adrian Beltre? Never heard of him. Justin Verlander won last year and was just as good in 2012, minus those pesky pitcher wins. This award is all about Cabrera and Trout. Cabrera won.

This is not a triumph for The Old Way or The Old Guard or proof “new stats” are false or somehow less legitimate. The stats say Trout but the MVP is elected democratically – warts and bias and subjectivity and all. You know what? That’s okay.

If the voters don’t see the ways in which Mike Trout’s value outstrips Miguel Cabrera, it’s their loss. If champions of small ball and Playing the Game the Right Way and going from first to third on a single suddenly forgot the importance of these pillars of the game because a guy lead the league in NotThoseStatsTHESEStats: oh well. Hopefully they’ll get it right next time, right? They can either come around our get left behind, their choice.

There is no shame in the baseball world for Cabrera taking this award. He is a deserving winner for his incredible season (his best since last year, when his offensive line was even better and he was the most valuable player in the American League.) Congratulations to Miguel for his MVP trophy, Triple Crown feat, and trip to the World Series. Not a bad 7 months of baseball, Miggy. Not bad at all.

Comments (48)

  1. Don’t Underestimate Intuition when voting for year-end awards. Always gotta remember DUI

  2. Trout’s lack of Gold Glove is still astonishing to me.

  3. Get over it geeks, the right man won.

    I too find Trouts’ lack of GG astonishing though.

    • Lol geeks. Watch a game.

    • Hey Ron,

      You’re a fucking dickhead.

    • Outside of home runs or RBI, what made Cabrera a deserving choice? Purely with the bat, Trout was equal to Cabrera, if not outright better. You don’t even need WAR or any saber stats to find that Trout’s OPS+ is higher than Cabrera’s.

      And for the record, Sabers generally laugh at anybody who uses OPS/OPS+.

      So even if you ignore base running, defence, position, saber stats….Trout was still the better player.

      You could argue that Cabrera’s team made the playoffs…but the Angels won more games. So now we’re rewarding Cabrera for geography, as opposed to Cabrera helping the team more than Trout.

      The only legitimate arguments in favour of voting for Cabrera are the extra playing time he had over Trout, or if you’re a Tigers fan.

      And FYI, people wouldn’t be interested in advancing their knowledge about baseball unless they were already pretty fucking interested in watching and playing the game of ball.

      • I think most people are downplaying the significance in playing time between Cabrera and Trout. Cabrera played 16% more games than Trout, therefore to make up for the number of games wouldn’t Trout would have to be 16% better a player than Cabrera, which I don’t feel is the case.

        Also, people Tend to forget that the Angels had a better line-up than the Tigers and thus scored more runs than the Tigers last year. Cabrera was more important to the Tigers run production than Trout was to the Angels.

        • WAR accounts for playing time and Trout compiled – because WAR is a counting stat, don’t forget – 30% more than Cabrera.

          • WAR aside, I think the difference in playing time is substantial. It’s similar to how a pitcher is discounted from the Cy Young if he throws substantially fewer innings than his competitor.

            Sure, one could assume that if Trout played all of April his numbers would have been even greater. He also could have completely tanked in September.

            • It’s similar to how a pitcher is discounted from the Cy Young if he throws substantially fewer innings than his competitor.

              Unless he’s a reliever, then who fucking cares!

  4. The Triple Crown IS historic. That’s why we recognize it as the “Triple Crown” — that’s why we recognize Cabrera as the “Triple Crown Winner.” The fact that Cabrera lead his league in AVG, HR, and RBI is already celebrated by designating this feat as the “Triple Crown;” we do not need to automatically recognize it with the MVP. The same pro-Miggy people who say WAR shouldn’t be a be all and end all statistic, and that a stat like that can’t exist, then turn around and cite “Triple Crown Wins” as if it’s that very thing, some kind of be all and end all statistic.

  5. I am so tired of hearing the whining about that Trout should be MVP. I was a sabrometrics junkie on the mid 90′s when no one had a clue what it was. But it is not everything. To totally discount the triple crown catagories (like some are trying to do) is like believing a lead singer means nothing to a rock band

  6. If Trout was with the Angels the ENTIRE season, he wouldve put up a couple more homers, couples more rbi’s, pass the 50 Stolen Bases and quite possibly added the extra wins the Angels would’ve needed to get into the playoffs and that is why Trout didn’t win, because his team missed the playoffs, Miggy is very deserving of the award, but the question is, would the Tigers have made the playoffs without him or not?

    • If you believe in WAR, probably not. Miggy was worth 6.9 rWAR, the Tigers won their division by only three games.

      Another way to look at this – if we converted three of Mike Trout’s walks to hits – he wins the batting title and all this goes away.

      • But you can’t just do that. If you converted both players 3 walks to hits Miggy wins the triple crown still. See how easy it is to make shit up?

        • I think what he’s getting at here, Bob, is that Trout’s OBP was higher and thus he took a higher proportion of walks to hits than Cabrera did. Shit isn’t being ‘made up’, you’re just an ignorant asshole.

          • Uh yeah, shit IS being made up. You can’t just “convert” stats around and say, “oh! see, if this had happened, he would have won the MVP”. I can use the same logic to say that if Trout played the full season at the MLB level he would have had a lower batting average because he would have to catch up to pitchers at the beginning of the season. I can say that if Vernon Well hit 60 homers, he would have won the MVP.

            But those two things didn’t happen, and Miguel Cabrera wins the MVP, deservedly so.

            • I wasn’t “making stuff up” I provided a hypothetical situation to prove a point. In this HYPOTHETICAL situation, converting three walks to singles changes…what exactly? His OBP and total bases stay the same. If the circumstances of arriving at the same conclusion – Mike Trout successfully reaching first base – are the only thing that looks different, the only difference is reflected in his batting average.

              A cosmetic change (IN A MADE UP SCENARIO) that re-frames the entire argument. Not a debate you’re interested in having? Fine. But I think the point it raises is not worth dismissing out of hand.

        • Make shit up like deciding the Triple Crown is the be all and end all?

          • Ok then. Even dismissing the triple crown, voters still look to the homer, rbi and avg when they make their decision. So going by the traditional voting method, Cabrera STILL wins the MVP honours.

            Maybe this is not how they should vote (it shouldn’t be) but that is how it is done for the most part and that is why Miggy is our AL MVP

  7. Drew, I felt this was a very balanced piece. As someone who is still learning about sabermetrics, I do understand why the general populous thinks so highly of Cabrera’s season. That was how we saw baseball. I think it is clear that Trout had the better season and should be MVP but I don’t condem people who see it the other way because that is what they know.

    Stats guys are going to have to better brand the way they report on baseball for these ideas to resonate with fans (and writers). There is nothing in metrics that sounds as sexy as “TripleCrown Winner”

  8. I don’t get some people. You don’t to be a “geek” or a “saber-nerd” to realise that defense and base-running are incredibly important parts of the game.

    Even if you want to claim that Miggy is better with the bat, you have to take the entire game into consideration. So if we’re ranking these guys out of 10, you could say.

    Miggy – 10/10
    Trout – 9/10

    Miggy – 3/10 (probably generous)
    Trout – 9/10

    Miggy – 2/10
    Trout – 9/10

    TROUT STILL WINS. Watch a fucking game!

    • MVP isn’t usually decided by base running and defence though. Anal beads.

    • Of course. Hell, this wasn’t even Cabrera’s best season. But this isn’t like when Juan Gonzalez won his MVP Awards, or when Delgado got shafted in 2000 (and you could argue in 2003 as well), or when Colon won the Cy Young, or any other arguments you want. These were two historic seasons we may never see again, and truthfully even if Trout was the correct choice there was no “wrong” answer on this one. Instead of arguing about this let’s just enjoy the fact that we get to watch these two guys play baseball.

  9. Listen, Triple Crown or not, MVP or not, we’re watching a Hall of Fame career unfold in Detroit. Seriously, Miggy could retire right now and he’d be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. When it’s all said and done he’s going to have mammoth numbers.

    And we could be watching Mike Trout begin his own run to Cooperstown. It’s WAY too early to say that for sure, of course, but I hope I’m right and I hope he doesn’t tear his knee up or something awful like that. He’s an incredible player to watch, and if things break as they should Trout’s going to have a few MVP awards of his own by the time he’s through. Either way, these debates are why baseball is better than every other sport. What a great time to be a baseball fan.

    • First ballot hall of famer if he retired now? You fucking high my friend?

      • You know, it’s not that far-fetched to suggest that Cabrera would get into the Hall if he retired right now.

        MVP votes every year. Batting titles, HR titles, Triple Fucking Crown!

      • Do I really have to do this? 8 30-HR seasons, 6 seasons with at least 100 Runs Scored and 8 with at least 90 Runs Scored, only once had an OBP below .345 (his rookie season when he only played 87 Games), 4 seasons with an OBP above .400, two HR titles, a Doubles crown, a 50-Double season, 5 seasons with at least 40 Doubles, no less than 177 Hits in any full season, at least 100 games played at 4 different positions (1B, 3B, LF, RF), proven to be at the very least an adequate defender at both corners, 100 RBI every year but his rookie season (even if RBIs don’t mean much that’s still kind of impressive), a Triple Crown, an MVP, two batting titles, two OBP titles, 7 All-Star Games, 3 Silver Sluggers, an NL Pennant, an AL Pennant, 2003 World Series Champion, hit .333 with 10 Hits and 9 Runs in the 2003 NLCS for the Marlins, has received MVP votes every season of his career, has played no less than 157 games every season of his career aside from his rookie season when he was called up in June, despite switching positions quite a few times and now playing a position he’s not ideally suited for, and has of course never spent any time on the DL. All of that while playing in two parks, Dolphin and Comerica, that were/are pretty tough on hitters.

        Now how in the holy mother of fuck is that resume NOT a first ballot Hall of Fame baseball player?! Why do I even have to explain that?

        • Okay my mistake, he only played 150 games in 2010. But still…

          • HOF is loosely determined by reaching certain levels in statistical categories. He is not close to any of them yet. That is why he is not a 1st ballot HOF right now….(we will be down the line, obviously)

            • From Baseball Reference’s HoF section on Miggy:

              Black Ink Batting – 30 (61), Average HOFer ≈ 27
              Gray Ink Batting – 171 (61), Average HOFer ≈ 144
              Hall of Fame Monitor Batting – 174 (61), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
              Hall of Fame Standards Batting – 46 (107), Average HOFer ≈ 50

              Jay Jaffe’s awesome JAWS system supports exactly what you say here – he just has to keep it going for a few more years. He’s closer than it looks though.

        • Thanks, I can look up stats too my friend, I’ve seen his stats. I’m not saying that he’s not a terrific player and one if not the best over the last 10 years

  10. The internet in 2012.

  11. Who fucking cares anymore that shit was so yesterday!!!

  12. this is why iv’e hated the score for a while now. Every one of their writers are biased blue jay fans. If cabrera played on any other team they wouldnt even question it. yet hes a tiger and for some reason jays fans just cant get enough tigers bashing. I think theyre still sour from last year when for some ridiculous reason they thought bautista should have won over verlander.

    • That is some pretty desperate groping right there. The piece clearly says Cabrera is a worthy candidate deserving of MVP adulation. Get over yourself.

      • “If the voters don’t see the ways in which Mike Trout’s value outstrips Miguel Cabrera, it’s their loss. If champions of small ball and Playing the Game the Right Way and going from first to third on a single suddenly forgot the importance of these pillars of the game because a guy lead the league in NotThoseStatsTHESEStats: oh well. Hopefully they’ll get it right next time, right? They can either come around our get left behind, their choice.”

        definitely pro cabrera. lol

    • Parkes hates the Jays… just sayin

  13. Arguing on the Internet is like competing in the special Olympics. Even if you win you still a fucking retard.

  14. The article does seem biased. Whatever happened to the good old days when people tipped their cap when people did things that were amazing. Even if two of them did it. Instead of breaking people down so much some media members should try picking them up. Maybe then people like suh wouldn’t rather wash their balls then talk to you.

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