By Bucky Gleason
The numbers alone make the argument, but that only matters if the argument is about the numbers. In fact, it’s not. The debate being waged across North America is about the most valuable player, which by definition according to the Baseball Writers’ Association of American has no definition.
Yes, you read that correctly.
“There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means,” the BBWAA states on its website. “It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team.”
Keywords: To his team.
The ongoing dispute is whether Tigers’ third baseman Miguel Cabrera should be named MVP in the American League over Angels rookie centerfielder Mike Trout. Cabrera is almost certain to win the award because a majority of writers voting are almost certain to make the easy choice, Cabrera, rather than the right one, Trout.
Cabrera is on the verge of becoming the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win Triple Crown. He led the AL with a .329 batting average, 44 homers and 137 runs batted through 160 games. The Tigers won the AL Central with him batting third. The numbers are indisputable, which raises this valid question:
How do you not vote for Cabrera?
Many would say it’s a clear-cut argument, and I most certainly would agree. Clearly, Trout should win the MVP.
I’m not swimming upstream with Trout (sorry, the bad pun was irresistible) so much as considering the impact he made on his team. Trout has a .325 average with 30 homers and 83 RBIs from the leadoff spot, which is far more impressive than Cabrera batting third, ahead of Prince Fielder.
Trout also had 48 stolen bases and was caught stealing only four times. Cabrera, on the other hand, had four steals. Trout grounded into only seven double plays. GIDP for Cabrera: 28. Trout had the better on-base percentage, which to me is more telling than batting average. He also led the AL with 129 runs scored, and his eight triples are eight more than Cabrera.
The tipping point is defense. Trout is favored to win the Gold Glove while playing a much more difficult position than Cabrera, who isn’t even in the conversation among third basemen. Trout saved 22 runs for the Angels this season while Cabrera cost the Tigers four, according to stats guru Bill James.
While it’s true that the Tigers reached the postseason and the Angels did not, it’s also true that the Angels had a better record in a tougher division with Texas, tied with the Yankees atop the AL through 160 games, and Oakland, which trailed by a game, than the Tigers. The Angels trailed by four games with two left.
The Angels might have won the AL West if Trout didn’t start the season in the minors for some mind-numbing reason. They had a 6-14 record before promoting Trout from the Pacific Coast League and posted an 83-57 record after he arrived, going into their game Tuesday night at Seattle.
According to James’ total runs scored, which creates value for players based on offensive and defensive contributions and factoring in their positions, Trout wins in a rout. Trout had 172 total runs this season or 23 more than Cabrera. Trout saved 22 runs while Cabrera cost his team four. Numbers are numbers.
Irish bandwagon loading
Notre Dame is making room on the bandwagon after winning its first four games by a combined 103-36. It’s the best start for the Fighting Irish under third-year coach Brian Kelly, who lost three of his first four games in 2010 and was 2-2 at this stage last year.
The Irish, coming off consecutive 8-5 seasons under Kelly, is the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision that hasn’t allowed a rushing TD this year. Their dominance includes back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Michigan, both ranked in the Top 25, in which they allowed only nine points total.
Notre Dame plays Miami this week at Soldier Field in Chicago, before the schedule gets interesting with a key home game against Stanford on Oct. 13 and at Oklahoma on Oct. 27. If the Irish can get past both and avoid an upset elsewhere, their meeting with Southern California in the season finale could be their biggest in years.
Notre Dame hasn’t won a national championship since 1988.
Lefty asked out
Davis Love III took his lumps after the Medinah Meltdown in the Ryder Cup, mainly for benching partners Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley after they won their first three team matches. Mickelson, in a touch of class if not sympathy, suggested he was more to blame than Love for the U.S. crumbling.
“I went to Davis [Saturday morning] and I said, ‘Listen, you’re seeing our best. You cannot put us in the afternoon, because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it,’” Mickelson said. “[The media] cannot put that on him. If anything, it was me.”
Let’s not forget Tiger Woods, whose only contribution was tying a meaningless match with Francesco Molinari.
Sad Sanchez stats
Say what you will about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s bloated statistics, but Mark Sanchez can’t even pile up garbage yardage. Sanchez completed 1-of-5 passes for 5 yards over the final 8:23 with the 49ers cruising with a 24-0 lead.
Sanchez has completed only an NFL-worst 49.2 percent of his passes in four games. His passer rating (69.6) is third-worst ahead of only rookies Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden.
Sanchez’s passer rating has been 85.0 or worse 35 times in 51 career games. Aaron Rodgers’ rating has been 100.0 or better 31 times in 50 games over the same span.
FYI: The Jets need a quarterback.
Note: The previous sentence was not an endorsement of Tim Tebow.
The Lakers added veteran stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash with the idea they could build a championship team. Both are going to create more space for Pau Gasol and … Wait, whose team is this?
“I don’t want to get into the, ‘Well, we share.’” Kobe Bryant told L.A. reporters on media day. “No. It’s my team. But I want to make sure that Dwight, when I retire, this is going to be his. I want to teach him everything I possibly know.”
Luke Donald, on Europe rallying to win the Ryder Cup: “We climbed Mount Everest with just our underpants on.”
17 – Games this season in which Cliff Lee allowed two earned runs or fewer en route to a 6-8 record with the Phillies.
93 – Career catches for Wes Welker against the Bills, breaking Don Maynard’s record (90) for most by a Buffalo opponent.
8 – Touchdown passes by West Virginia quarterback Gino Smith in a 70-63 victory over Baylor, a game in which he threw for 656 yards.
• The Orioles’ success has me thinking about Jim Palmer, who pitched in all six of their World Series. A career starter, he came out of the bullpen in Game Three to beat the Phillies en route to the title in 1983. In 19 seasons, Palmer never gave up a grand slam or back-to-back homers.
• Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has spent $29.6 million in four years since filing for bankruptcy, according to TMZ. About $10 million was paid to creditors.
• In case you were wondering, the NHL lockout will end only after the players realize they can’t beat the owners. My best guess: Oct. 3, 2013, also known as a year from today.