There was a significant backlash to Miguel Cabrera winning his second consecutive AL Most Valuable Player award. It was not unexpected. Let's act like Captain Renault in Casablanca and round up the usual suspects.
MLB Network's Brian Kenny took out a flamethrower on Twitter, outright deriding the BBWAA's vote.
Couldn't even find a list of al voters. Maybe they're the smart ones? There are a bunch of enlightened writers - they're just outnumbered.— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) November 14, 2013
23 of 30? Trout gets 5. Of course..Bogus Deja Vu all over again, Jack O'Connell.— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) November 14, 2013
Miggy WAS better this year. Better than Miggy LAST year. But not better than Trout in either.— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) November 14, 2013
A sportswriters job is to write. You don't have to understand comparative analysis to be a great baseball writer. Just don't vote..— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) November 15, 2013
Kenny was still at it this morning.
In other words...BBWAA voters..if you can't do comparative analysis, can you at least watch the games?— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) November 15, 2013
I sometimes agree with Kenny. He tends to take extreme views (see his #KillTheWin crusade) in order to enlighten fans to advanced metrics. But the "If you didn't vote for Trout you're a Neanderthal" act is no way to gain converts to the cause. When passion turns into self-righteousness and condescension, all it does is piss fans off.
Of course, Keith Law joined the fray in his ESPN column.
I can't believe we have to do this again, but here we go: Trout was more than two wins better than any other AL player, according to FanGraphs, an enormous gulf that is easily supported by simply looking at basic statistics. Trout trailed Cabrera by 10 points of OBP and 79 points of slugging, but stole 30 more bases than Cabrera, played a tougher position (and played it well while Cabrera played his poorly) and had 60 more plate appearances in which he could continue to deliver value to the Los Angeles Angels.
This is an individual award, and Trout's and Cabrera's teammates are irrelevant to this discussion. Failure to accept that requires an argument from tradition, and those don't fly here.
Please, please, please, for the love of God, stop trotting out WAR. At this point, when a stats wonk like Law even hints at the wins above replacement argument, my eyes glass over. WAR needs to stop being used as a bludgeon in any awards discussion. It's not the be all end all and was never intended to be.
At least Yahoo's Jeff Passan calls out WAR.
Here's a dirty little secret: I think Wins Above Replacement, the catch-all, go-to stat adopted by the sabermetric glitterati as the best determinant of value, is full of crap.
But it doesn't preclude Passan from essentially calling out Detroit fans as willfully ignorant. Keep in mind I needed to keep my knuckles from dragging on the ground in order to put this post together.
Willful ignorance is an embarrassment; trollus mvpus celebrates it. Being informed as to the new methodologies of determining value should be a pre-requisite to forming an opinion; trollus mvpus thinks pre-reqs are for losers. Even if the population of trollus mvpus shifts geographically – the past two years have been populated by Detroiters who have an understandable affinity for Cabrera – people's fandom does not preclude them from at very least trying to understand why others might disagree.
Guess what? Trout's Angels' fan base (or that of Chris Davis or Josh Donaldson) would react in the same damn way. Fans are irrational creatures to begin with. Of course they are going to defend their man. That's what fans do.
The bile being spewed also feels like piling on when it comes to Detroit. This area has a chip on it's shoulder already thanks to the constant put-downs of the area from people who haven't spent more time here than the blink of an eye, if any. Denigrating Cabrera in many ways feels like just another cheap shot aimed at this area in a long series of them.
Thankfully, Jayson Stark's ESPN piece takes a more reasoned approach to Cabrera's MVP win.
If Miguel Cabrera played for Mike Trout's team -- a team that finished 18 games out of first place and spent exactly one day above .500 all season -- hey, guess what?
He never would have had that mediocre September -- because he wouldn't have been playing.
He was a guy who spent that whole month (and October) battling a groin/abdomen injury that was so severe, he required surgery right after the season.
Stark actually sees the gray areas instead of stark black and white, calling out the Kenny's and Law's off the world.
So please. Can the folks on the Trout side stop writing and/or screaming that those 23 MVP voters who cast their first-place votes for Miguel Cabrera were "wrong," or just a bunch of dopes who made a "bad" choice?
Thank you, Jayson Stark.
Sports Illustrated's Cliff Corcoran makes a case for Cabrera winning next season as well.
Over the last four seasons, Cabrera has hit .337/.425/.612 (177 OPS+) while averaging 39 home runs and 127 RBIs, and there’s every reason to expect he’ll come very close to those numbers again next year at the age of 31. Given his dominance over Trout in the voting the last two years, Caberera would now seem to stand an excellent chance of being just the second man ever to win three straight MVPs. Thus far only Bonds has done that, and those MVPs (he actually won four straight) came during his tainted 2001 to 2004 seasons.
Unfortunately, my first thought in regard to a Cabrera three-peat was, "Not another year of this who deserves to win crap..."
Fox Sports' Jon Morosi turns the pro-Trout argument on it's head.
Say Trout had won, and you needed to tell Cabrera why. What would you say?
Well, Miguel, I know Trout didn’t play a truly meaningful game for his team’s playoff chances after June – and as a result faced considerably less pressure than you. I realize you performed 475 OPS points better than him in high-leverage situations (1.188 to .713, according to Baseball-Reference.com). I understand that you played through an abdominal/groin injury during the final two months because you felt you owed it to your teammates and fans. Your presence in the lineup helped No. 2 hitter Torii Hunter have a Silver Slugger season after turning 38, afforded Victor Martinez time to settle in after missing 2012 with a knee injury and masked a disappointing year for Prince Fielder.
You fulfilled your regular-season obligation to the Tigers by carrying them to the playoffs. Despite all of that, we have to give the MVP to Trout. His team could have finished where it did – below .500, ahead of the Mariners and Astros – without him. But he had the better WAR. Sorry.
I'm thrilled Miguel Cabrera won the MVP. I'm more thrilled we can finally move on from the ridiculous, silly, stupid, annoying bickering over who deserved to win the award.
•Essay: Jim Leyland’s legacy in Detroit
•Report: Tigers listening to trade offers on Scherzer
•Who should win manager of the year? | BBWAA award dates and times
•Offseason target: Ian Kinsler | More possibilities
•Tigers 2013 Yearbook: Miguel Cabrera
•Follow us on Facebook!