Joe Posnanski posted a column today on his personal blog discussing Trout over Miggy for MVP... so I took a couple of hours to write a reply. Thought that I'd also share it here.
If one buys the argument that "September matters more," especially in a pennant race when you talk about "clutch games" and so forth, here are the offensive numbers for Cabrera and Trout after the All-Star break:
Cabrera -- 75 games, 94 hits, 57 runs, 26 HR, 68 RBI, 1.074 OPS, 186 total bases, .327 BABIP, 192 tOPS+.*
Trout -- 75 games, 94 hits, 72 runs, 18 HR, 43 RBI, .966 OPS, 170 total bases, .374 BABIP, 165 tOPS+.*
A couple of things pop out immediately.
a. Trout's BABIP is massive, which means he was getting on base more often and in a position to score more runs. We don't know what his BABIP should be, of course, as he's only played one full season, but that .374 number is off the charts compared with the league as a whole.
b. Trout's power numbers are below Cabrera's, as they should be, and the OPS in particular is way behind. 100 points is a significant difference. (The total bases are closer than the OPS difference would indicate, with Trout having a slight lead in walks and HBP.)
c. Cabrera's 192 tOPS+ is also significantly higher than Trout's 165, although certainly I'd take either for my ballclub.
[If you want to take a look at team records, you can do that as well:
Detroit -- 44-42 before the All-Star break, 44-32 after
LA Angels -- 48-38 before the All-Star break (42-24 with Trout), 41-35 after
Now, there are all sorts of reasons why those are different, and only some could be directly attributable to Trout/Cabrera. For whatever reason, Detroit was three games better than the Angels in the second half. But that's secondary to the player discussion.]
There's also been a big push to discount RBI as a meaningful statistic and inflate runs scored in its place. I don't quite understand this argument, because both are team-dependent. To score a lot of runs, you need people to drive you in. To have a large amount of RBI, you need people on base. It's hard to have one without the other. Detroit had 726 total runs scored; the Angels had 767. Detroit had two players with more than 80 RBI; the Angels had four. Detroit had five players with 100+ OPS; the Angels had seven. The Angels as a group had more opportunities to score runs, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise that Trout has a huge amount of runs scored. He got on base, they knocked him in to the tune of 129 runs. Cabrera drove in 139 runs of his own on a team that scored 41 less runs than the Angels. That's eye-catching as well and shouldn't be easily dismissed.
There's also an argument that because Trout put up the numbers he did while missing the first month, what could he have really done playing the entire season. We don't know, obviously, but his second-half numbers dropped off from his monster numbers in July. He would have scored more runs, certainly, but his batting average and OPS might have started dropping earlier. We don't know. What we do know is that Cabrera stepped his OPS by 136 points and tOPS+ up by 35, whereas Trout's OPS/tOPS+ numbers in August and September were his two lowest of the season.
Cabrera OPS (July, August, Sept/Oct) -- 1.086, 1.092, 1.071
Trout OPS (July, August, Sept/Oct) -- 1.259(!), .866, .900
Trout had one monster month, a Bondsian-type month...but Cabrera was more consistent.
I'll take the guy who was more consistent.