Ball Star

Why Cabrera over Trout (for me) as AL MVP

Updated: 2012-11-16T01:51:10Z

Bob Dutton

Kansas City Star

   The results are in and, finally, we have a resolution to the country's second-most divisive debate in recent months. (Second-most?) Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera is the American League's Most Valuable Player. Not Los Angeles rookie outfielder Mike Trout.

   The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced the result of its balloting Thursday night on MLB Network. Cabrera was actually a pretty decisive winner in garnering 22 of the 28 first-place votes.

   One of those votes for Cabrera came from me. The BBWAA voting panels for each of its awards consist of two chapter members from each of the AL's 14 cities. The Kansas City ballots for the MVP award went to me and my former Royals' beat parter Jeff Passan, who now plays the national stage ay Yahoo.com.

   The BBWAA, in the interest of openness, now releases the full ballots of all panelists in revealing its selections. So you can see all 10 guys I voted for simply by going to our website (www.bbwaa.com). Me, Jeff and anybody else. On any of our awards.

   Should you do so, you'll see Jeff put Trout atop his ballot. And if you want to know his reasoning -- along with his view that anyone who didn't (i.e., me) is wrong -- you can do so at this link: http://yhoo.it/TDeNd4

   Jeff makes a good case.

   Another friend and former colleague, Joe Posnanski, offers a similiar view at USA Today/Sports on Earth. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/RWQbQn Joe is also still a member of the KC Chapter and had a Cy Young vote this year.

   Joe also makes a compelling argument.

   But I voted for Cabrera. So did an overwhelming majority of our panel. While I can't speak for anyone else, I can tell you what swayed me...and I was swayed. My initial inclination was to vote for Trout...for many of the reasons that Jeff and Joe express with hard-to-fault logic.

   So why Cabrera?

   The simple answer is I believe the players know more about what players do and mean in terms of value than I do. I talked to a lot of players (not just Royals) and to other reporters who talked to a lot of players -- and the result was overwhelming. They said Cabrera was the MVP and, generally, said it wasn't close.

   Yes, I know all about those stats that Jeff, Joe and others cite. I'm not dismissing them. Here's the thing: Many of the players knew those stats, too. And they understood them. They still said Cabrera and said so overwhelmingly.

   Ultimately, for me, it came down to this -- and try applying this test to your own situation and see what you think. I'd like to think I have a pretty good handle on who are the best beat writers in the American League. 

   Now, let's say some outside expert (and people like Nate Silver are brilliant; just as Bill James is brilliant) came along and pulled together a stat that incorporated all of the elements that comprise a great baseball beat writer. You can bet I'd be interested in seeing that formula and learning what it revealed.

   But after digesting it, if I still thought the best beat writer was somebody other than the person identified by the stat-crunching...well, I'd think I was right and not the stat-crunching. And if the vast majority of other AL beat writers agreed with my choice, I'd feel real confident that we had the right person no matter what the stats said.

  (Again, this would be after studying the stat process. It wouldn't be some casual dismissal of stats. And I'm telling you, the players know all about the new stats. Not all, but a lot of them do. This is their livelihood.) 

   Back to the MVP vote: If it had just been a majority of players, or if there had been more hesitation in their response, I might have fallen back on my own inclination to favor Trout. But it wasn't. It was emphatic and overwhelming -- and I kept asking myself: Do I really know more than all of these players about what makes a good player?

   That brought me back to this: Would I grant that someone who isn't an AL beat writer knows a lot more about what it takes to be an AL beat writer than an overwhelming majority of AL beat writers?

   I voted for Cabrera.

 

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