When I first wrote about the American League’s Most Valuable Player race, I thought Mike Trout should be the winner, even though I thought you could make a strong case for Miguel Cabrera. However, the chart below is one of two reasons why I now believe Cabrera deserves the award.
1) As can be seen below, Cabrera has been on a tear over the last 100 games of the season. And he hasn’t let up over the last month, when games are more important*. Trout on the other hand has been in a steady decline for the last 40 games or so.
2) As we all know by now, Trout (10.3 WAR) has a huge lead in Wins Above Replacement over Cabrera (7.3). That is due in large part to his gold glove defence at a premium position (centre field). But while I believe WAR is the best individual stat we have, it makes some bold assumptions about how valuable a good glove is. And there are some that believe it overvalues defence. So until we can resolve the value of good defence in terms of Wins, I can’t completely trust WAR to be used as the lone deciding factor.
Chart data via Baseball-Reference.com…WAR values via Fangraphs.com
* Yes, technically all games are worth just one loss or one win. But you can place a higher premium on games later in the season if a team is in the playoff hunt as there is less room for error. Think of like running a race. If you stumble at the start, there is a chance to recover. If stumble just before the finish line, it is too late to do anything about it.
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