The timing of this article is uncanny. There are a lot of things to talk about from the past week as well as the upcoming week. Let’s breakdown the first question on everyone’s mind… Can Miguel Cabrera overtake the popular opinion regarding the AL MVP and beat out Mike Trout for the award?
Many an analyst on both Baseball Tonight and MLB Network will argue for Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Now, while I can’t argue that the season he is having is tremendous (for a rookie as well), I do think Miguel Cabrera has a slightly stronger case at this point of the season. For all my sabermetrics people, let’s give the two front-runners a breakdown on a statistical basis, shall we?
Mike Trout leads Miguel Cabrera in the following statistical categories:
Runs Scored (101-118)
Stolen Bases (4-46)
Miguel Cabrera leads Mike Trout in the following statistical categories:
Home Runs (41-27)
Runs Batted In (130-77)
Batting Average (.333-.327)
On Base Percentage (.398-.395)
Slugging Percentage (.616-.556)
On Base + Slugging Percentage (1.014-.951)
Additionally, Cabrera’s average and RBI total are tops in the AL and he trails Josh Hamilton by 1 home run. Never has a player been this close to the Triple Crown with less than two weeks left in the season since the last winner, Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
The sheer difficulty in possessing all these numbers is (to quote Jim Leyland) mind blowing. Throw in the fact that Cabrera has been doing this for the last 9 years is remarkable. A top 5 finish for the third straight year is inevitable for Miguel but with these analysts stuck on the “Wonderboy”, we might have a Triple Crown but not an MVP winner.
Now comes the hard part: justifying Cabrera’s defense. No one will argue Trout’s ability to play center field but how does Cabrera’s third base play affect his chances? Its actually better than you think!
Cabrera’s .963 fielding percentage at third base is good enough for third in the American League. The fielding percentage leader, Mike Moustakas of the Royals, has eleven errors to Cabrera’s 13. Cabrera also has a better range factor (2.53) than other third basemen that are believed to be better fielders (Adrian Beltre- 2.39, Kyle Seager-2.45, and Alberto Callaspo- 2.39). He trails only Moustakas in double plays turned (39 to Cabrera’s 31) and putouts (117 to Cabrera’s 115). Finally, He only trails Moustakas and Toronto’s Bret Lawrie in assists (225). So, in conclusion, the argument that Cabrera is a below average fielder is incredibly misinformed. Though I can almost guarantee that Cabrera will not win the Gold Glove at third base, his defense, from a statistical analysis, shouldn’t hinder him in being the MVP.
There, mull that over, Angels fans. Now onward to the Cy Young discussion!
As I’ve stated before Cabrera is my pick for the MVP, which has naturally has an impact on the defending MVP, Justin Verlander. But while a majority of the media has been focused on Cabrera, the Tigers have a couple of Cy Young candidates as well. Naturally, Justin Verlander’s numbers are very good (15-8, 2.74 ERA 223 Ks) they are no where near last year nor are they close to the Cy Young front runner, Tampa’s David Price (18-5, 2.54 ERA, 181 Ks). However, Max Scherzer has entered the fray and is allocating his own impressive numbers (16-6, 3.78 ERA, 224 Ks). He and Verlander have kept the rotation intact for most of the year and I don’t think you can discount him at this point even though his ERA is higher than most.
In terms of the team itself, there’s a reason this article is highlighting personal awards. Although its not impossible for the Tigers to overcome the 2 game lead the White Sox have right now, going into Thursday’s games, it is extremely difficult. I believe with the play that Miguel, Justin, and Max have been providing, it could in fact, happen. The White Sox are much like the Tigers: they haven’t been particularly dominant, they’ve just been better than Detroit. If Detroit can get on a hot streak, it could come down to the wire.
So keep watching and keep rooting for them. But just keep in mind that you might find yourself rooting for Mike Trout when Chicago rolls in to face the Angels this weekend or that you might want Price to pitch well when the Sox take on Tampa next week. Either way, the next two weeks are going to be mind blowing.