Cabrera's Triple Crown And The Case For MVP

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Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera became the first player since 1967 to win a Triple Crown. (AP/Orlin Wagner)
Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera became the first player since 1967 to win a Triple Crown. (AP/Orlin Wagner)

Each baseball season gives us a World Series champion. Very few provide us with a Triple Crown winner, but we got one this time around. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers led the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in—the first player to do so since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. But today, with the advent of statistical measures such as on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) and Wins Above Replacement (WAR), there’s a chance Cabrera will not be the AL MVP.

Bruce Arthur, columnist for Canada's National Post, made the case that Angels' rookie Mike Trout should give Cabrera a run for the title.

“I find adjusted OPS is a pretty good way to figure out a hitters’ value,” Arthur told Bill Littlefield on this week's Only A Game. “It really does get complicated because you can weigh all these different stats in different ways.”

Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown capped a great season for the Detroit Tigers, and the team will extend its season into the playoffs. But Arthur doesn't believe the Triple Crown guarantees the MVP.

“Miguel Cabrera had a wonderful year,” Arthur said. “It is extraordinary just because it hasn't been done in so long. Miguel Cabrera led the American League in OPS. It was actually his worst OPS in the last three years.”

However, Arthur stood by rookie Mike Trout’s notable season with the Angels.

“The accumulated picture as far as I look at it tells me that Mike Trout was a better baseball player this year and was probably more valuable,” Arthur said. “The Detroit Tigers won a division title. Well, the Los Angeles Angels have one more win, in a tougher division, and were 6-14 when Mike Trout got called up. And again, this is a rookie.  This is a kid who hadn't done a lot of anything in the major leagues. They were the best team in baseball.”

“You can argue that Miguel Cabrera was the best offensive player this year,” Arthur said. “Those stats—home runs, RBIs, and batting average—are the three that every television broadcast puts on the bottom of the screen when a guy comes up. So naturally, they still matter. That being said, I don’t think it’s exactly the measure of how good a player is in baseball anymore.”

Arthur said it’s easy for fans to dismiss statistical analysis as “mumbo-jumbo,” but he thinks the stats help clarify how the game actually works.

“If you want to talk about wins, if you want to talk about guys that are in the playoffs, Anaheim didn’t get in.  But Mike Trout propelled that team the way no other player in baseball—as far as we can tell—propelled the game,” Arthur said. “If you want to talk about valuable—that’s value.”

This segment aired on October 6, 2012.


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