The Nine Best Baseball People To Follow On Twitter
The headline covers most of what the following post will be. But I’ll make a few quick points. Baseball is fun and it’s a lot of fun to follow along and interact with people on Twitter about it. The following list has a few rules. First, these are not people you follow for news. Ken Rosenthal breaks lots of stories, but this list is about people who you follow because of their interesting commentary, not their ability as a reporter. Current players are also not eligible. Second, the account doesn’t have to reflect a person but it can’t be an entity like MLB or ESPN. Three, I’m not listing anyone I have a professional affiliation with. It wouldn’t really matter because this is a fun list and I can’t imagine anyone finding a way to profit from this, but it just felt more ethical. Finally, these accounts are being judged only by baseball tweeting. No points for your literature or food tweeting. Both quality and quantity are considered. Just like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” everything is made up and the points don’t matter.
Honorable Mention. Batting Stance Guy
On the list for humor. I don’t follow him, but got some recommendations to put him on the list and I’m all about listening:
9. Keith Law
Law is pretty popular for his “snark” and hilarious ability to retweet people who don’t know the difference between your and you’re, but he’s worth a follow because he provides solid baseball commentary in most cases and it well informed on prospects. Mostly, his invention of #umpshow is reason enough.
8. Heard on MLB Tonight
This is the designated Twitter account for pointing out hilariously off base baseball commentary.
7. MLB Fake Rumors
This is a great play on MLB Trade Rumors. Their only failure is that they don’t tweet often enough.
6. Mark Simon
Simon posts a ton of statistical breakdowns and tidbits and is great about looking into advanced data for followers.
5. Dave Cameron
Cameron is the managing editor of FanGraphs and is just an excellent baseball analyst.
4. Can Predict Ball
These guys tweet when something hilariously predictable happens. Must follow.
3. Brian Kenny
Kenny is the mainstream media’s sabermetric champion and does a nice job providing commentary and taking people to task for not opening their minds.
2. Jeff Sullivan
Sullivan makes excellent observations about baseball, but is also supremely funny and always tweets what I’m thinking about national writers who tweet silly rumors.
1. You Can’t Predict Ball
They tweet when unpredictable things happen, which is just about the best thing about baseball.
Why You Should Give Sabermetrics A Try
A lot of ink has been spilled over the old-school versus new school debate in baseball analysis and while I’m decidedly on the new school side of things, I firmly believe that the reasons we have a difficult time winning converts is because we’re often too quick to act like our views are obviously the right ones. This isn’t a matter of sabermetricians getting the wrong answers, but we don’t often do enough to make our findings clear to the public. Sometimes we get caught up talking to each other and not talking to everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Fangraphs and other sabermetric heavy sites, but we don’t always do the best job of making the basic principles clear. When someone writes a great post at Fangraphs, they don’t explain why they use wOBA instead of OPS or batting average, they take it as a given and expect the reader to know why or to look it up. Which makes less informed baseball fans weary. It’s not that they’re stupid, I don’t think that at all, it’s that they haven’t been given a proper explanation for why we think what we think on this side of the debate.
The sabermetric community offers a lot of resources that explain statistics, but we leave the curious fan with little guidance. It’s not hard to tell why some people here us talking about Wins Above Replacement and start thinking we’re nuts. It’s out job to explain what we’re doing and it’s our job to sell the message correctly. We’ve done so much groundwork in baseball research that we often forget that a new person is learning about the value of walks everyday, and that’s something we just take as a given.
Which is why it’s important for baseball analytics to have a public relations aspect of it too. Brian Kenny from MLB Network and NBC Sports Radio is a great voice for that part of the task. He’s done excellent work bringing sabermetrics into the mainstream of sports coverage. Plenty of others do excellent work on the matter, but he’s made it a mission.
At New English D, we’d like to be a part of that, and often publish basic explanations of sabermetric stats and principles while also pointing out some flaws in the basic stats. Today, I’d like to do something different. Today, I’d like to explain why you should give sabermetrics a try, period. I don’t care how skeptical you are, give me the next 5 minutes.
Here are 5 reasons:
1) The basic statistics were crafted during another era.
Batting average, runs, RBI, SB, wins, ERA, and the other statistics you’re familiar with quite readily were invented in the 1920s to keep track of what happened on the field. They are scoring statistics to record exactly how the game progressed. They’re descriptive and that is great. You can look at a box score and see exactly who was on base and who was at the plate when each run scored, but you can’t always tell which players were most responsible for the win or loss. These stats don’t tell you that much about value. It’s not because these stats are stupid, it’s because they didn’t have calculators and computers to do calculations when these numbers were invented. When you’re using a slide rule or pen and paper to track stats, things have to be simple. They don’t have to be simple anymore because we have the power to compute more information. It doesn’t mean getting a hit with a runner on second isn’t important, it means RBI is a crude way to measure that skill.
2) Progress is good.
Sabermetricians have introduced many new statistics into the world in the last couple decades, and while that might seem unseemly and cluttered, it’s actually no different than anything else. We didn’t use to fly on airplanes or drive cars, we didn’t used to be able to watch any baseball game on the internet. Heck, we didn’t even have the internet until the 1990s. No one is running around telling everyone to write more letters and put them in mailboxes, we have all pretty much embraced e-mail, texting, and instant messaging. Communication got better and more efficient. We’re better off. Baseball analysis is the same way. These new stats tell us more about baseball than we used to know. Players who walk a lot used to be really undervalued until someone with a computer looked at a lot of baseball games and realized that getting on base is really good, whether you get on via a hit or a walk. Things get better when we develop new technologies. You wouldn’t disable your internet connection, don’t immediately shut out new stats.
3) We’re asking the same questions.
Sabermetricians and traditional analysts both care about what leads to wins. Traditional analysts tend to just focus on who wins and loses and reverse engineer the explanations, but sabermetrics is just breaking it down a different way. Let’s go through a little thought experiment:
- How do you win? You score more runs than the other team.
- How do you score more runs than the other team? You score runs and you prevent runs.
- How do you score runs? You get on base.
- How do you get on base? You get a hit or you walk.
- How do you prevent runs? You don’t let the other team get on base.
- How do you keep them off the bases? You don’t allow hits or walks.
- How do you prevent hits? Don’t let them put the ball in play or hit homeruns, so strikeouts are good. You can also induce groundballs and use your defense if they are good.
When you think about the question like that, you realize we’re all asking the same thing. Sabermetricians break it down into how you score and prevent runs and they look for what leads to both of those outcomes. It’s nothing devious or nerdy. It’s 100% about scoring runs and preventing them. We’ve just looked at enough data to know which actions lead to both and which actions don’t. Sometimes there is luck involved and you can’t predict luck. We’re all about playing the odds. That’s no different from anything else, it just looks different because we’re using numbers instead of intuition.
4) More information is good.
Even if you like the old statistics, that doesn’t mean the new ones are wrong. If a player has a high batting average, that tells you something about their performance. But so does their on base percentage. So does their slugging percentage. So does Weighted On Base Average (wOBA). So does Wins Above Replacement (WAR). It’s all information about the players and teams. Sabermetricians like these new stats for a reason. The reason is that they tell us something the other statistics do not. Batting average is fine, but it doesn’t tell you if the player is getting on base via a walk. You might not think walks are as good as hits (we don’t either!), but walks are WAY BETTER than outs. Batting average pretends walks don’t exist and we think that’s silly. RBI tells you how many runs a batter has driven in, but it doesn’t tell you how many opportunities that batter has to drive someone in. It’s not fair to Joey Votto that he hits behind Zack Cozart and Prince Fielder gets to hit behind Miguel Cabrera. Those two players are in different contexts. Sabermetrics likes to provide context neutral information. Players can only control certain aspects of the game and we don’t think it’s right to judge a player on things outside of his control. This is especially true for pitchers, who can’t control how much run support they get, how well their defense plays, or which pitcher is on the mound for the other team. Sabermetrics looks at that and says, wins aren’t a great way to measure a pitcher’s performance because most of what leads to a win is out of their control. Let’s look at what is in their control and see how well they do at that.
5) The logic is exactly the same.
When you look at RBI or Wins or Batting Average to judge a player, you’re using statistical information to make an inference about how good that guy is. You’re taking information recorded in the past to make a claim about the present and future. It doesn’t matter if you’re using your eyes during an at bat or a spreadsheet in January, the logic is the same. Past behavior informs predictions about the future. For sabermetricians, we’re just using a lot more information because we have found that using more information and certain kinds of information tends to help make better inferences. For example, this is where the tired phrase “small sample size” comes into play. We’ve looked at a ton of data and see that a really good batting average over a ten day stretch doesn’t predict what the player will do on day 11 very well. For statistics to reflect true talent, you needs bigger samples. It’s simple logic and you use it every day. If you think a player is about average and then they have two great days, how much do you change your mind? Not much. If you think a player is average and they have six great months, how much? Probably a lot more. Sabermetrics isn’t any different than that, it’s merely crunching the numbers to give us a better estimate about when information starts to become meaningful.
If you think about it like that, sabermetrics aren’t that foreign or nerdy. You might need to be a nerd to program a computer to spit out an answer to a question, but you don’t have to be anything but curious to understand what the answer is telling you. It’s isn’t that the old stats are terrible, it’s that they were developed when they had limited power to make sense of a complex game. You wouldn’t want a surgeon trained in the 1920s to operate on you, why let a statistic from 100 years ago inform you. Progress is good. Progress leads to more information and better understanding. You can absolutely disagree with a new stat, but you absolutely cannot disagree with a stat because it’s new. We’re asking the same questions and using the same logic, it’s just about being willing to expand the data you’re willing to use to evaluate those questions. You judge players by batting average, why wouldn’t you look at on base percentage too?
Ultimately, sabermetrics are a way to learn more about baseball and I can’t imagine not wanting to do that. I challenge you to learn more or to help others do the same. We have lots of information on this site under out “Stat of the Week” section and other sites offer much of the same. I’ll even make you a guarantee because I love baseball and learning that much. I will answer any question you have about baseball stats. Hit me on Twitter, in the comments, or on e-mail (See “About” above) and I will explain why I like one stat over another or what the best way is to measure something. Anything. That’s my offer. There’s no excuse not to give it a try, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it.
Happy Opening Day, Everyone!
It’s here. We made it. Baseball is back.
Opening Day is the first day of the rest of your life. We can finally stop staring out the window in anticipation of spring. It’s here.
Take the day off, put up your feet, grab a hotdog and enjoy. This is a holiday unlike any other. Umps will scream “play ball” and fighter jets will buzz stadiums full of elated fans. Gloves will pop. Bats will crack. That singing hotdog guy will annoy us.
In most cities the sun will shine brightly, in others, like Detroit, it will be cold and rainy. But it doesn’t matter. Our long, collective nightmare is over.
Baseball is back.
Mascots will race around the track and we’ll all wait for that first, get-out-of-your-seat moment when we all hold our breath. It’s coming.
On this day, everything is possible and no one is in last place. Everyone can have a career year and there is no yesterday about which to complain.
No more contract speculation or trade talk. No more rankings and previews or roster competitions. Just nine innings of baseball that counts.
Your team’s best pitcher against the other team’s leadoff guy is just hours away, maybe even minutes if you’re reading this late enough in the day.
You’ve made it, congratulations. Another awful, terrible, too long winter with nothing to care about.
But it’s all over now. Seven months of baseball begins today.
I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s about time.
Happy Opening Day, friends. I’ve missed you.
A Relevant and Important Graph
My desire not to bring my computer on an airplane has resulted in this post. Writing long, expansive articles on the topics of the day is my usual game, but the occasional pithy post from my cell phone is also part of the STT experience.
It gets a little worse given that I didn’t even develop this graph. I’m re-posting someone else’s work from last season in place of what should be real content. For this I apologize and hope the importance of this image makes up for it.
Baseball returns in just three weeks!
Ten Things to Know About Baseball
There are certain things about baseball that everyone should understand beyond the general rules of the games and day to day musings. Let’s call them axioms. Ten axioms about baseball that you should all take to heart ahead of Opening Day 2013. Here they are, just for fun. Add your own if you’d like.
10. Saves are made up and don’t matter. Much like the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Actually, exactly like that. Weird.
9. Playing the infield in is a bad idea in all circumstances unless it is the 9th inning and the winning run is on third base. Maybe you could talk me into the bottom of the 8th, but that’s my line in the sand. No further.
8. Pitcher’s duels are better than slugfests.
7. On Base Percentage (OBP) is better than Batting Average (AVG) in every way. There is really no reason for it to be displayed with any less prominence. Walks are not outs in disguise.
6. Sabermetrics are not for nerds who live in their mothers’ basements. They provide additional and often better information than traditional statistics. You don’t have to like them all, but when you dismiss them entirely rather than dismissing individual ones, you have sent the message that you would like to know less about baseball. Why would you want to know less about baseball?
5. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, better in sports than a position player getting called on to pitch.
4. Except maybe the even rarer occasion in which a pitcher is called on to play the field.
3. You can’t predict baseball. (There is even a Twitter account to back me up – @cantpredictball)
2. Actually, you often can. (@canpredictball)
1. Watching your team lose a baseball game is the second best way to spend your time. Right after watching your team win a baseball game.
Did we miss any axioms? Which is your favorite? Hopefully #5!
The Nine Best Catchers for 2013
In this week’s installment of The Nine we’re ranking the best catchers for the 2013 season. The top of this list was easy, but the backend was a bit tricky. Several very good players were left off the list.
Apologies to: Carlos Santana, Alex Avila, AJ Ellis, Jonathan Lucroy, and AJ Pierzynski.
9. Ryan Hanigan (Reds)
Hanigan may seem like an odd choice if you don’t follow the game closely. He doesn’t hit for power, even in one of the great hitters’ parks in the sport, but his .365 OBP was ninth best in 2012 and he’s consistently proven his ability to post that type of number while some of the other contenders have shown more fluctuation. However, Hanigan is on this list for his glove. No catcher posted a higher UZR (11.2) than Hanigan in 2012 and his ability to lead pitchers and receive certainly makes him a top five defensive catcher in baseball.
8. Brian McCann (Braves)
McCann had a down year in 2012, but I’m banking on him having another solid season before his decline gets into full swing. He’s been a top flight offensive catcher and his defense is average or better. His biggest asset is his power, which should be back for 2013.
7. Carlos Ruiz (Phillies)
Ruiz has developed into one of the better offensive catchers in baseball over the last couple seasons and posted a career best 5.5 WAR in 2012. Pitchers have generally raved about his defense and his leadership skills behind the dish. The only reason he’s near the bottom of this list is because he’ll miss the first 25 games with a suspension.
6. Matt Wieters (Orioles)
Wieters is a very good defensive catcher who seems to just be arriving at the offensive potential that most scouts saw in him. He’s been over 4.0 WAR in each of the last two seasons and will start his age 27 season in 2013. The power is finally showing up and with a little more in the average column, he could become one of the game’s best.
5. Salvador Perez (Royals)
Perez is extremely young and incredibly talented. He won’t be 23 until May and has already demonstrated superb defensive skills and a great swing in just parts of two seasons. He made the big leagues late in 2011 and tore up September. An injury kept him out for the first half of 2012, but he picked up right where he left off after the break and hit like crazy. The only hole in his game is his low walk rate, but he does pair it with a very low strikeout rate. If he can learn to walk, he’ll be at the top of this list in no time.
4. Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks)
Montero has quietly become one of the better catchers in the game over the last couple seasons. He’s a solid defender who hits for average and power and is improving his plate discipline. He reached base fourth most among catchers last year and while he’s probably at his ceiling, he looks capable of maintaining this level for a few more seasons.
3. Joe Mauer (Twins)
Mauer will turn 30 this season and is among the game’s best pure hitters. He’s probably never going to display the power he did in that 28 homerun season again, but his great batting average and on base percentage make him one of the best catchers there is. His defense is pretty average at this point, but the bat is very good. The key with Mauer is his health and ability to stay behind the plate, but this is a list for 2013, so I’ll still be on him over some of the younger guys.
2. Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
Molina nearly missed the top spot for 2013. His defense is elite, top notch stuff. Quantifying catcher defense is tricky, but by all measures he’s near the top and by most subjective measures he is the best. He’ll be 31 this year and has always had a good average and on base, but the power is new over the last year and a half. I’m not as confident in his power to remain as I need to be to put him at the very top of this list, but darn it, he’s very close.
1. Buster Posey (Giants)
Not much of a surprise here. The reigning NL MVP enters 2013 as the game’s best backstop. He plays a very good defense, even if he’s probably not in the same league as Molina and Hanigan. He’ll be 26 this year, which is about the time hitters tend to peak and he’s coming off one of the best offensive season in all of baseball. He hits for average and power and mixes it with plate discipline nicely. Posey is not only one of the game’s best catchers, he’s among the game’s best players period.
CHECK OUT THE MIDSEASON UPDATE HERE.
What does you list look like? Sound off in the comments section.
Introducing ‘The Nine’
Something I’ve learned over the course of my life is that people love lists and rankings. They can’t get enough of them. If you write a paragraph about a group of good shortstops it will be less popular than a list of the five best shortstops even if the information is identical. Call it a quirk of humanity.
That said, the most highly read piece on this site was my list of the nine best baseball books, so I have some evidence to back this up besides the success of the otherwise useless Bleacher Report. People like lists and people like rankings.
So you’re going to get them. SABR Toothed Tigers is proud to introduce The Nine, a series of rankings, lists, and other things that can be grouped that relate to baseball’s most usable number, 9.
Nine positions, nine innings, nine things on our lists.
This will be a regular Saturday feature for us at STT and we’d love to hear any suggestions you might have about what you’d like to see discussed in our rankings. As I noted above, The Nine Best Baseball Books are already available on this site. Look for The Nine Best Baseball Websites this weekend and notice the new tab on the homepage with links to all of STT’s The Nine‘s
Alan Trammell and What We Want the Hall of Fame to Look Like
I was six when Alan Trammell played his final game. I can’t say I remember seeing much of him with my own eyes. But I come from a family of Tigers fans, so much so that my parents had a dog before I was born named, you guessed it, Trammell.
So the issue of Alan Trammell’s Hall of Fame candidacy is of some importance to me, my family, and the majority of the state of Michigan. Trammell is a beloved figure from the ’84 World Series team and a less beloved figure from a less than perfect managerial stint prior to Jim Leyland’s (he’s found a better home as Kirk Gibson’s bench coach in Arizona).
But is he a Hall of Famer? He’s a great Tiger, but does he make the cut for baseball’s highest honor?
First, I guess I should make clear that the Hall of Fame voting and the BBWAA in general are a joke. Stubborn, self-righteous writers won’t vote for suspected steroid users despite no proof and some refuse to vote for anyone on the first ballot simply because Babe Ruth didn’t make it in unanimously on the first ballot, so no one should. Lots of things about the voting are silly, but let’s leave that aside and ask if Trammell should be in the Hall of Fame assuming the Hall of Fame is actually a good measure of real baseball value.
For a long time, I thought no. And so have most of the voters. 36.8% of the 2012 voters put Trammell on their ballots, which is a far cry from the necessary 75% needed for induction. But in recent years I’ve become a more sophisticated fan, especially in the area of comparing eras and positions.
Trammell doesn’t have any universally accepted counting stat thresholds like 3000 hits or 500 homeruns to rest his candidacy upon, but those marks aren’t necessary for induction, they are merely sufficient. Let’s examine Trammell’s candidacy.
Over 20 big league seasons, he played 2293 games, hit 185 homeruns, drove in 1003, scored 1231, and stole 236 bases. He hit .285/.352/.415, good for a .343 wOBA and 111 wRC+. With good defense, Fangraphs puts his WAR at a healthy 69.5 (Baseball Reference says 67.1).
I’m not going to go through the arguments for or against Trammell made by others, but rather I’m going to construct a case based solely on the evidence.
Let’s start my putting Trammell in the context of major league shortstops. In the simplest terms, Trammell in 16th in career WAR for a shortstop. Every retired player on the list ahead of him is in the Hall. Some behind him are in. Based on the players already in the Hall at short, it seems like Trammell has a strong case. But past decisions aren’t necessarily right, so we can’t just say Trammell should make it because other undeserving players have made it.
By all of the main counting stats, Trammell is somewhere between 14th and 21st all time for shortstops with no controls for era. He’s outside the top 30 in all of the rate stats, however. Again, we’re not controlling for era here. This is the crux of the problem with Trammell’s candidacy. If you look at his numbers, it looks like he played for 20 years and accumulated a lot of counting stats without ever rising to the to the rate levels of the other past greats.
But like I said, this ignores context. Offense shot up right as Trammell’s career was ending and only in the last few years has it headed back down. Let’s look at Trammell’s contemporaries. Shortstops who played from 1970 to 2000 (adding five years on each end). These are arbitrary end points, but during that 30 year span, only Cal Ripkin, Ozzie Smith, and Robin Yount have higher WARs.
Trammell’s case rests on being a very good shortstop at a time of lower offense. He wasn’t the best of his era and he isn’t the best at anything. He played well over a long career and had a peak that looked like a Hall of Fame peak. Trammell’s best seasons are Hall of Fame worthy, but some of his worst seasons drag down the overall resume. Trammell is a good study in what you think the Hall of Fame should be.
I’ve always been a “story of the game” guy. The Hall of Fame to me is a museum to the game’s history and it should include the players who are vital to understanding the game. For this reason, I’m for admitting the suspected steroid users. But where does that leave Trammell?
By counting stats, he should be in. By rate stats, he’s probably not good enough. But that’s before you factor in the context of his position and his era. If the threshold for induction is that you have to be better than the worst player who is in, Trammell makes the cut. If there is a more ideal definition I think his case is less clear.
Trammell is vital to the story of the Tigers, but I don’t know how much he matters to the game as a whole. The fourth best shortstop of his era and a top 20 or 30 shortstop all time. If you like a big Hall of Fame, there is room for him. If you’re an exclusivity fan, he’s probably on the outside looking in.
Despite the quirks of voting, the Hall is still sacred ground. It does matter who gets in and who doesn’t. I’m left wavering on Trammell because I’m a story of the game guy and an exclusivity hawk. I want to induct players who were great and players that mattered. Greg Maddux is going in the Hall soon because he was great (and mattered), but I’m also more favorable toward Jack Morris because of his role in one of the great pitching classics of all time (Game 7, 1991 World Series) even if his raw numbers don’t warrant an inclusion in my book.
By my own standards, if I was redrawing the Hall of Fame, I think I would leave Trammell out. He doesn’t meet my own internal standards for the Hall, but he does mean the standards of the Hall as it currently stands.
Like I said, the Hall is a quirky place. Tim Raines isn’t in, but Jim Rice is. That doesn’t really add up. Hell, Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall. Voters have a lot of weird traditions and unwritten rules that don’t make sense. Certain voters see themselves as privileged gatekeepers to the point of ridiculousness. Bonds won’t make it because maybe he used steroids, but racists and wife beaters are just fine with them. The voters are the morality police without the moral compass.
As a Tigers fan, I want Trammell to get in. If I was designing my own Hall of Fame, I’d probably leave him out. But he belongs in this one. He has four years left of eligibility and he might get lost in the other battles raging over the Hall.
Given the criteria and the boundaries drawn by voters past and present, Alan Trammell belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Cabrera Wins MVP and a Brilliant Drama Concludes
Tonight, Mike Trout lost the MVP race to Miguel Cabrera. We expected as much. Traditional thinking that favors team success in the MVP voting won out and Trout, who had the better season, came in second.
A lot of other weird things happened in the full balloting. Like the couple people who left Cano off the ballot. Or how no one put Torii Hunter, Alex Gordon, or Austin Jackson on their ballots anywhere from 1-10. And how Jim Johnson (who is a great reliever) was anywhere near the voting.
But we should probably take stock of our lives at this point and realize these awards don’t matter at all. The BBWAA hands out these awards based on the preferences of their members. Sporting News does the same thing. Other smaller groups hand out their own. (SABR Toothed Tigers included and the vote was unanimous!)
BBWAA has prominence because they are the oldest. There is history attached, but that’s all. Mike Trout’s season is no less impressive or memorable because he didn’t win the MVP. Neither was Verlander’s because he lost the Cy Young
We get caught up in these races because we like talking about sports, but the actual consequences are very small unless you’re one of the players involved. So while I think a lot of the voting this year and in past years is garbage, it doesn’t really affect my life or yours and I’m not going to bed angry.
Things don’t always happen the way they should. That’s part of life. Mike Trout will wake up tomorrow as the best player from 2012 whether or not he has a plaque to show it. Miguel Cabrera will clear room on his mantle.
While a lot of the conversation surrounding this award was toxic, I think the race was great for the game. Cabrera supporters acted silly by dismissing sabermetrics, but not because they don’t like sabermetrics, but because the only reason they don’t like them is they don’t like what sabermetrics told them.
Sabermetrics are great. They give you a lot of information. It’s silly to dismiss them because you don’t like what they tell you. The people wanted Cabrera to win, so they attacked the method of the people supporting Trout. That’s what I didn’t like.
The Trout crew was also at fault. Honestly, we walked around like the Cabrera supports needed their mittens pinned to their jackets like four year olds. We lost sight of the fact that Cabrera had a great season and deserved to be near the top of the ballot.
We shouldn’t dismiss the human element of the game so quickly just because we think it’s silly. Most valuable player means best player to us in the sabermetric community, but a lot of people think and vote with their gut. MVP is about the story. It is about the narrative. Just because we don’t like that, doesn’t mean that isn’t okay. Narratives are fun.
I didn’t like that this became about stats and tradition, because it was really about evidence and instinct. We who supported Trout like tangible evidence. Those who backed Cabrera care about weaving the evidence together in a way that feels right and exciting.
It’s totally okay that people supported Cabrera for that reason, but they should say so. It should be about liking him or liking the idea of a power hitter or liking the idea of carrying a team to the postseason. But all of those are stories we tell ourselves. It’s baseball mythology and it’s great, but admit that’s what it was and I’ll be fine.
So while I don’t like how angry this got, I love that we were in this position. We watched phenomenal baseball in 2012. Trout versus Cabrera wasn’t a close race for most people (because they strongly favored one or the other), but man was it a fun one. Trout being an all-around star while Cabrera mashed.
It was one for the ages. So was the Cy Young race. And the NL race was awesome two, we just forgot to look. The AL Manager of the Year was razor thin and we got to witness the Year of Mike Trout and the beginning of Bryce Harper.
The Dodgers bought a team and the Red Sox started over. The A’s came from nowhere and the Orioles wouldn’t go away. The Cardinals kept the magic alive and the Rangers crumbled.
Phil Humber threw a perfect game. So did Matt Cain and King Felix, but my god, Phil Humber threw a perfect game. I’ll never forget that. It was during my bachelor party.
Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw pitched brilliantly. R.A. Dickey for crying out loud.
The Pirates had something to say and the Nationals built a winner. Fernando Rodney was a shutdown reliever. Fernando. Rodney.
Bret Lawrie fell six feet onto concrete to catch a baseball and Chris Sale didn’t need surgery.
Baseball was awesome in 2012. It was beautiful and unpredictable and wonderfully cruel.
The Infield Fly Rule Game in Atlanta broke hearts and made dreams come true. Chipper Jones and Omar Vizquel retired, leaving the five year old in me a little confused about where baseball went.
So while this feels like the end of a bitter civil war, it’s really the end of a great chapter in a supremely thrilling novel. On April 1st, 30 teams clung to the hope that this would, in fact, be the year. Only one held on all season.
So we’ll follow trades and free agents and we’ll prepare for fantasy drafts and cactus league games. We’ll stare out the window and wait for spring.
It was a fun season and now it’s really over. Miguel Cabrera won the MVP over Mike Trout, but the real winner was us. We got to sit on our coaches, in our cars, and in our seats and watch this spectacular drama unfold.