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Keith Law: "Cabrera shouldn't appear in the top three spots on any ballot."

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Mike Trout, Justin Verlander and other 2012 MVP and Cy Young candidates - MLB - ESPN

Note this is an Insider piece.

Trout has the performance and the narrative in his favor right now; if he maintains this crazy level of performance, the only argument against him would be if the Angels miss the playoffs, and claiming that an individual player's value is somehow tied to the performance of his teammates is just flat-earth thinking.

One of the most popular questions I've gotten recently is whether Miguel Cabrera will win the AL MVP award. I don't presume to know what the voters will do, but I know that as it stands right now, he shouldn't appear in the top three spots on any ballot. Cabrera's offensive performance has been solid, but he's a major negative on defense at third base, so a player like Cano, a good defender at a position (second base) where offensive levels are lower, is more valuable overall even though Cabrera has slightly higher raw rate stats. Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team, behind Verlander and Jackson, the latter of whom has completely transformed himself at the plate this year and is a plus defender in center.

I didn't Keith Law could be any worse, well I was wrong.

Jackson and Verlander are awesome, no doubt, but Cabrera is the MVP of this team this season. So say he shouldn't even be top three just doesn't make any sense.

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Not a big Keith Law fan but this seems reasonable to me. I don't like penalizing a player for being bad on defense, I don't see why Cabrera would somehow be more valuable at 1B or DH than 3B, but you do need to reward players for being good defensively, I'd have Trout, Cano, Jackson, and probably a few other guys ahead of Cabrera for overall value right now.

That doesn't mean he's not *the best player* though, it just depends on how you're judging things. I think that in 15 years we'll look back and Cabrera will have had a long and incredibly consistently great career as he waltzes into the Hall of Fame, but for just this one season in particular I don't think he deserves the MVP.

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Not a big Keith Law fan but this seems reasonable to me. I don't like penalizing a player for being bad on defense, I don't see why Cabrera would somehow be more valuable at 1B or DH than 3B, but you do need to reward players for being good defensively, I'd have Trout, Cano, Jackson, and probably a few other guys ahead of Cabrera for overall value right now.

That doesn't mean he's not *the best player* though, it just depends on how you're judging things. I think that in 15 years we'll look back and Cabrera will have had a long and incredibly consistently great career as he waltzes into the Hall of Fame, but for just this one season in particular I don't think he deserves the MVP.

How would he not be less valuable at 3B than 1B or DH. Why wouldn't you lower his value if his defense sucks? I am very confused by this post.

As far as the overall idea by Law, I kind of agree, but not all the way. Cabrera's consistency, the fear he puts in pitchers and the way he can help guys batting near him are hard to put into context. He's a prime example of stats not telling the whole story.

That said, Trout and Cano as well as possibly others are in front of him right now.

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I don't think Law is being unreasonable. I think Jackson has been as valuable overall as Cabrera. If Jackson had not missed time with the injury, he'd clearly be ahead of Cabrera. As it stands, I think it's close. My top three would probably be Trout, Cano and Jackson. You could reasonably put Cabrera in there some place, but I don't think he's the slam dunk candidate some are making him out to be, not when there are three great two-way plays in the league this year.

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How would he not be less valuable at 3B than 1B or DH. Why wouldn't you lower his value if his defense sucks? I am very confused by this post.

As far as the overall idea by Law, I kind of agree, but not all the way. Cabrera's consistency, the fear he puts in pitchers and the way he can help guys batting near him are hard to put into context. He's a prime example of stats not telling the whole story.

That said, Trout and Cano as well as possibly others are in front of him right now.

Cabrera's consistency shows up in his stats, so nothing needs to be added. As far as the fear he creates and whether he helps guys around him, that's subjective. You can give him credit for that or not, but that seems like the kind of thing you can always say about your favorite player if you want to vote for him.

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I don't agree with law, but I see where he is coming from. The thing I don't understand is how he goes to great lengths to use sabr stats to make his case, which is fine, but he ignores trout's inflated babip and hr/fly. But he follows by discounting weaver based on babip, like many tried to do last year with verlander. That's not consistent.

Also, the myth of cabrera's defense continues. He is a better defensive third baseman than first baseman. Trout is lauded for being a cf, but third base is also a position where the war adjustment is positive. We went into this season thinking that Cabrera would take a value hit by moving to third, but it has actually been a value gain.

Trout has had a great year, but this could end up being his career year given his luck measures. Or maybe he is Ty Cobb. Whatever.

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I think positional adjustments have their value, don't get me wrong. I also concede that players should get credit for their luck. I just think that by the end of the season Cabrera is going to be at or near the top of every offensive category, save steals. I think it would be silly to discount him too much because he plays third instead of second or cf. and I also think there is value to be had where the numbers are a product of true skill and not skill with a healthy dose of good fortune mixed in.

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I don't agree with law, but I see where he is coming from. The thing I don't understand is how he goes to great lengths to use sabr stats to make his case, which is fine, but he ignores trout's inflated babip and hr/fly. But he follows by discounting weaver based on babip, like many tried to do last year with verlander. That's not consistent.

Also, the myth of cabrera's defense continues. He is a better defensive third baseman than first baseman. Trout is lauded for being a cf, but third base is also a position where the war adjustment is positive. We went into this season thinking that Cabrera would take a value hit by moving to third, but it has actually been a value gain.

Trout has had a great year, but this could end up being his career year given his luck measures. Or maybe he is Ty Cobb. Whatever.

Or Fred Lynn. He had some good years but, his rookie year was his best IMO.

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I would not downgrade a player in MVP voting based on his being lucky. It's the results that count in awards voting. If he was lucky, then good for him. I only consider luck when projecting future performance. The only think holding Trout back is playing time. As for as quality of performance, he is the clear leader.

I think Cabrera has proven himself to be a capable third baseman, but not a good one. Cano, Trout and Jackson contribute more to their team's defense than Cabrera and they need to get credit for that.

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How would he not be less valuable at 3B than 1B or DH. Why wouldn't you lower his value if his defense sucks? I am very confused by this post.

As far as the overall idea by Law, I kind of agree, but not all the way. Cabrera's consistency, the fear he puts in pitchers and the way he can help guys batting near him are hard to put into context. He's a prime example of stats not telling the whole story.

That said, Trout and Cano as well as possibly others are in front of him right now.

What I mean is, you shouldn't penalize Cabrera because he's forced to play third base by his team. Why would he be more valuable if he was playing a position where he didn't contribute anything defensively? I don't think he should be rewarded for "playing" third base, but I don't think he's less valuable as a player than if he played 1B or DH.

It's like if Mike Trout was a bad CF but a great RF (obviously I'm not saying he actually is) but his team insisted on playing him in CF. Why should he be punished for that?

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I would not downgrade a player in MVP voting based on his being lucky. It's the results that count in awards voting. If he was lucky, then good for him. I only consider luck when projecting future performance. The only think holding Trout back is playing time. As for as quality of performance, he is the clear leader.

I think Cabrera has proven himself to be a capable third baseman, but not a good one. Cano, Trout and Jackson contribute more to their team's defense than Cabrera and they need to get credit for that.

That's what gold gloves are for. But the MVP vote should be looked at this way;

Where would the team be without a player? That rules out Cano, the Yankees would still be an elite team without him.

Trout? Very nice season, give him ROY.

But in the last 3 years, Miggy has won the triple crown. I know the MVP is only for this season, but to ignore what he has done, year after year, is an injustice.

What does he have to do? Win an actual triple crown? Then people can say "well, his defense stinks, IMO. And he's slow and hits into too many double plays"

It's a popularity contest and a California boy is going to win it, unless the pennant chase causes him to choke and Cabrera gets on one of his rolls and leads the Tigers to the Central crown. If Miggy leads the league in 2 of the 3 tricategoriescatagories, there's no justification for him not finally winning a much deserved MVP. Of course, I'm biased. Whether he wins it or not, I'm just glad he's on OUR team.

And BTW? When a player changes positions and still puts up these monster numbers, it just makes the case for MVP stronger, IMHO.

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I think Trout's the MVP of the American League and I don't find it particularly close.

I agree, he is doing it all this year. He hits for average, gets on base, hits for power, leads the league in steals and is a premium defender in center field. Really the only advantage Cabrera has over him this year is that he has hit 8 more HRs(in 80 more ABs), but Trout more than makes up for that with his great defense and all the value he provides on the basepaths.imo In most years I think Cabrera would deserve it but Trout is just having a remarkable season and as of now clearly deserves the MVP.

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That's what gold gloves are for. But the MVP vote should be looked at this way;

Where would the team be without a player? That rules out Cano, the Yankees would still be an elite team without him.

Trout? Very nice season, give him ROY.

But in the last 3 years, Miggy has won the triple crown. I know the MVP is only for this season, but to ignore what he has done, year after year, is an injustice.

What does he have to do? Win an actual triple crown? Then people can say "well, his defense stinks, IMO. And he's slow and hits into too many double plays"

It's a popularity contest and a California boy is going to win it, unless the pennant chase causes him to choke and Cabrera gets on one of his rolls and leads the Tigers to the Central crown. If Miggy leads the league in 2 of the 3 tricategoriescatagories, there's no justification for him not finally winning a much deserved MVP. Of course, I'm biased. Whether he wins it or not, I'm just glad he's on OUR team.

And BTW? When a player changes positions and still puts up these monster numbers, it just makes the case for MVP stronger, IMHO.

I don't agree. The MVP should be based on how much value a player adds to his team this year. It should not be based on who his teammates are or what he did last year.

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Last week I saw a tweet that I could not follow up on that said Cabrera was +1 at 3b. Do not remember the Stat but I assume 0 is right in the middle... what do the advanced metrics say at this point on the season? My eye says he has been ok. Not good but not bad either.

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Too bad they don't take into account things like Cabrera willing to go to third so they could sign Prince.

That was pretty valuable.

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Last week I saw a tweet that I could not follow up on that said Cabrera was +1 at 3b. Do not remember the Stat but I assume 0 is right in the middle... what do the advanced metrics say at this point on the season? My eye says he has been ok. Not good but not bad either.

They are anywhere from -8 to +1. My eyes tell me he is right in the middle of that range - below average but not really bad.

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Cabrera's at a -8.5 UZR/150, which is a lot better than the -15 that I was thinking he'd average....so by the numbers he's a much better defensive 3bman than I thought he'd be. That having been said that's still in negative territory, so Trout has an edge due to his awesome hitting and plus CF defense IMHO. Although I think Miggy's been more valuable than Jackson to-date.

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I think Trout's the MVP of the American League and I don't find it particularly close.

I'm not sure how you can say it's not close, when there's still a lot of baseball left to be played and Trout has almost 100 less PA's which is a significant differentiating factor.

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I highly doubt that many MVP voters will care or put any real consideration into defense. In my opinion that would only come into play if you were deciding between two players and one played the field and the other was a DH.

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If Cabrera somehow pulls off the triple crown, he's the MVP. I don't care how mediocre his defense is at third base.

I love Keith Law, but he's being a bit of a contrarian.

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Trout vs Cabrera

Bb 9 9

K 20 13

Avg 340 327

Obp 403 388

Iso 255 259

They are basically in a dead heat hitting wise. Trouts obp is boosted by an inflated babip. With how much he strikes out, it should be lower.

Trout has also played in fewer games, so he is more likely to see those numbers come down by the end of the season.

Now, things like defense and position have some value. But I am not sure how much weight to give it. Sure Cabrera can't play cf. But he doesn't have to. We have a pretty good cf as it is. Could trout play 3b? I doubt it. So I don't give that much weight.

Defensively, trout is very good. Cabrera is merely adequate. However, there is still no good way to properly evaluate defensive value. Give trout a bump, but don't go crazy.

Trout is also a better baserunner. I think that is worth a big bump. His stolen base numbers are excellent.

Cabrera has the edge in games played. He has an additional 80 plate appearances or so.

We will see how the next six weeks play out, but I think Cabrera is going to have a very good case. If he end up with the best offensive numbers, I don't think his position and defense should count too much against him.

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