You can't measure everything: The Cabrera/Trout Debacle

I knew some corners of the sports world wouldn't be happy with Miguel Cabrera winning the MVP. I was surprised, however, at the level of anger and vitriol from some. I was even more surprised at an odd sort of self righteousness, particularly from Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.

Passan, in particular, wants to paint the MVP in terms of Galileo, Copernicus, and what he sees as some sort of holy crusade for "science."

Yes, that's right kids. He sees this in a baseball award.

He also kicks about 48% of the country in the throat by bringing up Nate Silver and making *that* comparison (can't we finally leave politics alone for just a few days or weeks?).

What Passan needs to understand, and some of the other people in the advanced metrics corner, is we, as a species, cannot measure everything. So just because Mike Trout had a better season in terms of currently constructed advanced metrics (of which there is no doubt), all this means is, frankly, Mike Trout was the best sabermetric player in the American League.

Let me say that again: Mike Trout was the best player according to sabermetric analysis in the American League this year.

But, of course, that isn't what the MVP award is. Value is indeed sometimes subjective. Saber measures what, well, saber measures, nothing more, nothing less, and I think even the most hard core number cruncher would admit that we haven't figured out how to quantify value for every possible variable for a baseball player.

Therefore, baseball writers have a perogative, and indeed I say they are required, in fact, to judge a player's value in ways that go beyond statistics. As a Tigers fan, we all know that if Miguel Cabrera took another shot in the eye and was out for the year, it would demoralize the team. We all agree that there would be effects beyond the simple deletion of Miggy's WAR. Morale is hard to quantify.

Which is also why I think Miggy's move to third base is the kind of thing that, again, isn't easily quantifiable in a statistical model. This was a selfless, team building move, that earned Miggy respect in the clubhouse. And allowed us to get Prince Fielder.

Opposing pitchers claim they fear Miggy more. This psychological edge leads to mistakes as pitchers try to nibble around the corners, but can we quantify "fear" in players?

Finally, there is the value of the Triple Crown. Yes, it is an "arbitrary" set of stats we choose to emphasize. But guess what? Statistical models do in essence the same thing: they have to be designed, so someone along the way decides a partiular set of numbers have more value. And besides, is it such a horrible, awful thing that we celebrate a particular achievement in a special way, even if the stats themselves are judged arbitrary?

None of these arguments will convince Jeff Passan, because not automatically granting the MVP award to the best "saber" player of the year is apparently the same thing as Galileo being put under house arrest. Nor will it convince Jonah Keri of Grantland, who laughably thinks Trout's season is way, way better than Miggy's. Fortunately, however, baseball writers are still "allowed" to make judgements that aren't constrained to a rigid statistical model.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.

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