Results tagged ‘ Miguel Cabrera ’
Less than a week later, though, that went out the window.
“When Josh was originally signed and we had Kendrys Morales, who’s a bat we felt was going to be there, I think there was definitely some lineups that looked like it worked with Josh in the 2-hole,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, referencing an eventual trade that sent Morales to the Mariners for Jason Vargas on Dec. 19, four days after Hamilton was signed to a five-year, $125 million contract.
“It might evolve to adjusting it a little bit here or there. But right now the way we line up, and wanting to take advantage of Albert’s on-base percentage, where you project it to be, Josh hitting behind him makes sense right now both from a balance and production perspective.”
Pujols’ career on-base percentage is .414; Hamilton’s is .363. It makes sense to bat Albert third and Hamilton fourth, for the simple fact that he’d get more chances throughout the course of a season. For the Tigers, Prince Fielder started all 162 games last year in the cleanup spot and got 690 plate appearances; Miguel Cabrera started one less game in the No. 3 spot and finished with 697 plate appearances.
Subtle difference, sure, but you’re usually going to want the better hitter getting those extra 10 or 15 plate appearances.
Consider: Nobody in baseball saw fewer fastballs than Hamilton last year (44.6 percent) and nobody swung at more pitches outside of the strike zone (45.4 percent). With Pujols in the on-deck circle, and Mike Trout frequently on base, Hamilton only figures to see more fastballs and more strikes if he’s batting third rather than fourth.
But would pitchers really attack him much different — significantly different than they would if Hamilton batted fourth and Mark Trumbo was behind him?
Scioscia doesn’t think so, pointing to the fact Adrian Beltre was protecting him in Texas and Hamilton still saw an inordinate amount of breaking balls out of the strike zone. So, for now at least, he’s sticking to Hamilton as his cleanup hitter.
“I think it’s just a function of how Josh was pitched,” Scioscia said. “Sometimes the pitches [hitters] see is not going to be contingent on who’s behind him, it’s just going to be how guys are trying to pitch to them. And with Josh, I think it was more that case than anything else.”
I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.
But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.
In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …
- Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
- Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
- Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
- Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
- Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
- Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
- Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
- Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
- Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
- Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
- D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
- Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
- Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
- Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
- Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524
* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized.
** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae.
And now, at last, it’s over.
That heated MVP debate — which saw countless bloggers, reporters, columnists, broadcasters, analysts, fans, executives, players and even Nate Silver take hard stances – can be put to rest. Miguel Cabrera edged out Mike Trout for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, in a vote that was nowhere near as close as many expected, and the argument has been settled for good. Turn on the lights, settle your bar tab, stop the music and drive home safely, everyone.
Nah, probably not. This is a debate that will probably continue for a long, long time.
And in my mind — with the risk of coming off as a complete homer — Trout was the AL MVP in 2012.
It has nothing to do with WAR. I just think Trout was a better all-around player who did more for his team this year. Simple as that. Cabrera’s season — .330 batting average, 44 homers, 139 RBIs; 1.081 OPS in the final two months — was outstanding. He was clearly the better hitter — but only slightly. Trout was far better on the bases, far better on the field and, in many ways, his season was unprecedented (Cabrera can’t say that).
The fact Trout did most of it at age 20, and all of it despite spending the first month in the Minors, shouldn’t help him in this argument; just like track record shouldn’t help Cabrera. But to vote for Cabrera over Trout, in my mind, is to almost ignore the importance of baserunning and defense in this game. And I thought we had evolved from that.
I don’t really fault those who voted Cabrera, but I find fault in the way some may have reached those conclusions. See, if you’re going to vote for Cabrera, vote for him because he’s the best hitter on the planet, which he is. Don’t vote for him due to things that were in many ways out of his control.
The Triple Crown
An incredibly rare achievement — only 15 others have done it, and none since 1967 — but also one that’s dependent on how others do.
Those batting-average, home-run and RBI totals Cabrera used to win the honor would’ve won him the Triple Crown only one other time since 2000 (in ’08). In all the other years, he’d be short in batting average, or homers, or RBIs — and in several cases, more than one. I’m not dismissing it, just trying to point out how arbitrary it can be.
On four occasions — twice with Ted Williams, once each with Lou Gehrig and Chuck Klein — the Triple Crown winner and MVP were different.
Here’s one reason why 2012 should’ve made it five: As rare as the Triple Crown is, Trout notched an even rarer feat. He topped 125 runs, 45 steals and 30 homers in the same season. No other player in history has done all three of those in one season. And on top of that, he hit over .320.
Yes, the Tigers made the playoffs, but they did so by winning one less game than the Angels (89-88) because they had the benefit of playing in the much-weaker AL Central.
And then there’s how they performed down the stretch, a big sticking point for Cabrera supporters. After Aug. 31, Cabrera posted a .344/.411/.670 slash line. Trout: .289/.400/.500. But who’s to say September is any more important than, say, June or July? (Heck, if you ask the Angels, the vast majority will say a run-starved, Trout-less April is the reason they ultimately didn’t make the playoffs.) Don’t they all count towards the aggregate number of wins that decide whether or not you play on?
“I think if I don’t win the Triple Crown, if we don’t get into the playoffs, I think there’s no question Trout would be the MVP,” said Cabrera, who, to his credit, was very complimentary and respectful of Trout in a conference call. “I think winning the Triple Crown helped me a lot to win this. I think [getting to the playoffs] helped me a lot.”
There were many reasons to like Cabrera, but those two shouldn’t have been major factors.
Most importantly, though, I simply can’t ignore how much better Trout was than Cabrera in every other aspect besides standing in a batter’s box, and how important that was to his team.
Here are some stats courtesy of Silver’s blog post (the same one he used to pick 99 of 100 states accurately in the last two presidential elections) …
Trout gave the Angels 12 additional runs on the bases when compared to an average runner, while Cabrera cost the Tigers three.
Trout saved 11 runs on defense according to UZR, while Cabrera (who, granted, played a better third base than I expected) cost them 10.
Again, no disrespect to Cabrera, who I’ve enjoyed watching since he was a much slimmer shortstop coming up in the Marlins’ system. I just think Trout did more for his team, and I think a lot of voters got caught up in the hollow luster of a Triple Crown and a playoff berth.
Trout should’ve won the MVP — and you don’t need to cite a 10.7 WAR to believe it.
The AL MVP race between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera has been a hot topic of late. The Angels, for the most part, have taken a politically correct approach. Trout talked Wednesday about how “first on the list is getting to the playoffs,” and Mike Scioscia said, “They’re both putting up extraordinary numbers in some different areas.”
But the Tigers, particularly ace Justin Verlander and manager Jim Leyland, haven’t been shy about expressing their desire to see Cabrera win the hardware.
Leyland, when asked about the sabermetric numbers being in Trout’s favor …
“Well, I’m going to answer that this way: I will not use the player’s name, but according to the sabermetrics, there’s a player that is better than Miguel Cabrera. When the guy that gave me the sabermetrics told me that, I said, ‘Well then, should we trade Miguel Cabrera for the player you’re talking about?’ And he said, ‘Oh no, you can’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Well then, you don’t believe in sabermetrics, and neither do I.’”
Verlander, when told about the possibility that Cabrera gets the Triple Crown and Trout still wins the MVP …
“That’s ridiculous. When was the last time there was a Triple Crown winner? Sixty-seven? OK.”
Verlander, on Ted Williams winning two Triple Crowns and not winning the MVP either year (1942 and ’47) …
“Ted Williams lost because of what’s his name? Joe DiMaggio [in '47]? Which goes down as one of the worst MVP votings of all-time, I think, in my opinion. His statistical year wasn’t nearly as good as Ted Williams’. … That would be a joke in my opinion.”
Verlander, on whether this would be the worst MVP decision if Cabrera didn’t win …
“Yeah. [The Triple Crown] hasn’t been done since 1967. Come on. Even the fact that he’s one home run away is just absolutely absurd. I mean, just watch him. Watch him when we need him down this home stretch. Oh my God. You want to talk about MVP, compare their numbers the last two months of the season. Big difference.”
Verlander, last year’s MVP, has gone as far as creating T-shirts to tout Cabrera’s MVP case.
Cabrera simply lauded Trout, saying …
“He’s amazing, man. You need to give some credit to him. At that age what he’s done is very amazing. That’s why everybody talk about him. That’s unbelievable, man. There’s nothing we can do, him and me. We’ve both got a great year. We can’t control that. We go out there and play hard, win some games. He’s focused on winning some games with Anaheim. I’m focused on winning some games here in Detroit. We’ll let you guys decide what’s gonna happen.”
The game hasn’t even started yet, but it feels like the Angels already have the lead. That’s because things aren’t looking very good on the Rangers side this afternoon. Not only are Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre not in the lineup, they’re not even present at the ballpark right now. Hamilton keeps having vision problems, related to the sinus infection that knocked him out of Tuesday’s game, and Beltre has some intestinal problems that have him at home. It’s very likely that neither could play in tomorrow’s series finale, either …
Pitching: LH Derek Holland (10-6, 4.50 ERA)
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (12-9, 3.73 ERA)
- Pujols, as you’ve noticed, is back with the team after spending Tuesday in Kansas City to be with his wife and newborn. Everything went well with the pregnancy; it was just hospital policy that his wife stay an extra day, and Pujols wanted to make sure he was there for her. “I think everyone knows that after God, family is the most important thing. I wanted to be with the team, but I put family before anything. Anyone who knows me knows that’s the most important thing. It’s a blessing to play baseball every day, but when it comes to family, I put that first.”
- Jim Leyland recently said he’d be “shocked” if the AL MVP didn’t go to Miguel Cabrera, who’s darn close to a Triple Crown with only two weeks remaining. Mike Scioscia isn’t as committal, saying: “There’s so many things. Miguel Cabrera being so close to a Triple Crown. He has that team in a pennant race. Mike Trout plays a premium defensive position every day and brings presence out there that is incredible. What he’s done as a leadoff hitter and the amount of runs he’s scored, the stolen bases – there’s so many things for each guy. Each guy is having an extraordinary season.
- Ervin Santana, dealing with some soreness tightness, is feeling fine now and is set to start on Friday against the White Sox. He’ll be followed by Dan Haren and Jered Weaver, respectively.
- Speaking of Weaver, who notched his 100th career win on Tuesday — his career winning percentage of .662 (100-51) is tops in Angels history.
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (9-5, 2.43 ERA)
Pitching: RH Doug Fister (3-6, 4.39 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Dan Haren (stiff lower back) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session, is feeling good and is eyeing a weekend start against the Rangers. Asked about the pressure to pitch well, given how his return to form can impact how active the Angels are in the trade market? “No added pressure. I mean, the Trade Deadline is such a weird thing. I’ve gone through it personally. There’s only so much I can control. I want to come back and help this team. I’ve been a really good pitcher for eight or nine years. I’ve had a couple bad months, pitched through some stuff. I think people kind of forget how good I can be. It’s been kind of frustrating hearing all that stuff. I went on the DL to try and help this team, to get better for the last 12 starts I’ll make because I know those are going to be very important. I kinda had to swallow my pride and just get better.”
- Mike Scioscia, when asked about Vernon Wells’ role on the team when he gets back in late July (he’ll start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday): “We’re going to look at the situation presented when Vernon’s healthy and back and ready to go, but I think Vernon understands the situation. With the way Mike and Mark are playing, they’re going to be out there every day, and we’ll see how everything else folds in.”
- The Angels signed outfielder Trevor Crowe to a Minor League deal recently, shortly after he was released by the Indians. Crowe could’ve come over in the nixed Bobby Abreu deal of late March.
- Jerry Dipoto, on his ostracized center fielder: “At no point have we offered Peter Bourjos for anyone, starter or reliever.”
- Dipoto, on trades: “We have nothing significant or imminent at this time. We’re just doing our due diligence.”
- Jordan Walden (right biceps strain) is expected to throw again in a couple weeks. He’s waiting for some anti-inflammatories to set in.
- Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) threw to second base again today and felt good.
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (2-1, 4.21 ERA)
Pitching: RH Justin Turner (0-1, 1.80 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Mike Scioscia finally relented, putting Trumbo in as the cleanup hitter behind Pujols, instead of Morales. “We all feel that Kendrys is pressing a little bit. He understands the importance of just being able to hit behind a guy like Albert. I don’t think he’s changed his game much, but right now he’s not very comfortable in the box. It doesn’t look like he’s attacking the ball like he can.”
- Haren (stiff lower back) is expected to be with the team today and will throw a bullpen session in the next couple days. Scioscia, on his rehab outing: “First couple innings was a little bit off of his command, but physically he felt great, so it was a good workout for him. He feels good.”
- Vernon Wells (right thumb surgery) expects to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday.
Some Angels.com links from Monday …
- Bullpen woes cost Angels a win
- Notebook, on Bourjos and the rumor mill, Chris Iannetta‘s throwing and Wells’ injury status
- Haren feels good after rehab outing
- Preview, on the Richards-Turner matchup
Some AL West links …
- Neftali Feliz makes headway in first rehab start
- Mariners cruise in Kansas City
- Inbox: Is Oakland a legit contender?
Mike Miller decides against retirement.
Pitching: RH Ervin Santana (4-9, 5.75 ERA)
Pitching: RH Rick Porcello (6-5, 4.47 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- The Angels haven’t made a formal announcement on their Tuesday starter yet, but plan on it being Garrett Richards.
- Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) threw to bases today. Mike Scioscia said he “definitely took a step forward” but will have to repeat the workout before seeing when he’s ready to go out there and feel comfortable enough for a rehab assignment. “He had a good workout today, he’s just not quite where he needs to be.”
- Vernon Wells (thumb surgery) worked out again today and could get on a rehab assignment, probably 7-10 games, by this weekend.
- And this could be a very big week with regards to the Angels’ pursuit of a starting pitcher.
Some Angels.com links from Sunday …
- Bullpen almost blows it, but Angels escape Bronx with win
- Notebook, on Ernesto Frieri giving up his first run, Jordan Walden landing on the DL, Dan Haren‘s rehab, Hunter’s status, etc.
- Bloom: Angels facing fight to the finish in the AL
- Preview, on the Santana-Porcello matchup
Some AL West links …
- Rangers Inbox, on the pursuit for a starting pitcher and other stuff
- Mariners’ offense comes up empty against Matt Harrison
- A’s sweep Twins and are in contention (at least for now)
And Chris Bosh expects his role to change given the Heat’s new acquisitions.
Mike Trout, CF (.343 BA, .399 OBP, 23 SB)
Rookie of the Year? How about MVP? Trout has elevated himself to that level already.
Robinson Cano, 2B (.316 BA, 20 HR, 50 RBI)
Best second baseman in baseball. And it isn’t even close.
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (.323, 18 HR, 68 RBI)
Best hitter in the AL, in my mind, and better at third base than I thought he’d be.
Josh Hamilton, LF (.318 BA, 26 HR, 74 RBI)
Somebody’s going to give this guy an absurd amount of money this offseason.
Jose Bautista, RF (.911 OPS, 27 HR, 64 RBI)
As Mike Scioscia said in Toronto, “How is this guy only batting .240?” He’s as fun to watch hit as anyone.
David Ortiz, DH (.302 BA, 22 HR, 55 RBI)
Remember when we all thought he was finished?
Paul Konerko, 1B (.333 BA, 14 HR, 42 RBI)
Like fine wine, Konerko seems to get better with age.
Joe Mauer, C (.327 BA, .415 OBP, 38 RBI)
He’s only catching about half the time, but he’s healthy and back to being himself offensively. Huge sigh of relief for Twins.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (.370 OBP, 11 HR, 42 RBI)
As slick as there is with the glove and a great hitter.
SP: Justin Verlander (9 W, 2.58 ERA, 128 SO)
Weaver’s numbers are better, but the reigning MVP deserves to start one of these.
Andrew McCutchen, CF (.360 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI)
Oh, and 14 steals. The guy does it all. An absolute freak.
Ryan Braun, LF (.309 BA, 23 HR, 59 RBI)
It was a rough offseason. Good to see him pick up right where he left off from his MVP year.
Joey Votto, 1B (.350 BA, 14 HR, 47 RBI)
Here’s all you need to know about how good a hitter Votto is: He’s hit ONE infield pop-up since ’09.
Giancarlo Stanton, DH (.364 OBP, 19 HR, 50 RBI)
Man, I sure hope he can compete in the Home Run Derby.
Carlos Gonzalez, RF (.340 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI)
Like McCutchen, this guy does it all on the field.
David Wright, 3B (.350 BA, 10 HR, 55 RBI)
What a travesty that Pablo Sandoval is starting at third base over him.
Aaron Hill, 2B (.300 BA, 11 HR, 39 RBI)
Two cycles in one half? Yeah, he gets the nod.
Carlos Ruiz, C (.357 BA, 13 HR, 46 RBI)
Ruiz was always lost in those deep Phillies lineups. Not anymore. Without him, they have nothing this year.
Starlin Castro, SS (.291 BA, 40 RBI, 16 SB)
Tough year for NL shortstops. I’ll take the one with the most upside.
SP: R.A. Dickey (2.15 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 12 W)
Great story, great person, great season. I don’t care if he’s a knuckleballer. He deserves it.
*** I’ll be taking the Baltimore series off. Follow Joe McIntyre for Angels updates, and look for stuff on the Angels’ first half and the upcoming Trade Deadline very soon. I’ll catch up with y’all from KC.
Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.
Day 4: AL Central
Plenty of great first-base talent here. So great that Eric Hosmer is out and another first baseman (Miggy) is at third.
Manager: Jim Leyland, DET
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B (CLE)
Alex Gordon, LF (KCR)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (DET)
Prince Fielder, DH (DET)
Paul Konerko, 1B (CWS)
Joe Mauer, C (MIN)
Alexei Ramirez, SS (CWS)
Shin-Soo Choo, RF (CLE)
Austin Jackson, CF (DET)
Justin Verlander, DET
Doug Fister, DET
Justin Masterson, CLE
Jose Valverde, DET
Chris Perez, CLE