More Stat Geek Haters: Recapping the Awards

Ezra Shaw

How do you feel about the 2012 MLB awards? Are you tired yet of the strawman "stat geek" label? What would you have done differently had your vote counted?

Good morning, everyone and HAPPY FRIDAY! This is baseballgirl wishing you a happy Thanksgiving holiday week, where we will eat turkey and be thankful for a relevant baseball team.

Since it's literally all over the internet, I thought we could talk about the awards. Yes, I know they don't really count, and on some level, we don't really care. But we should care, if only because in them we see how far baseball has come, and how far it still has to go.

Obviously, our very own BoMel took home the Manager of the Year award, and although I'm admittedly biased, I still think it was the right call. Yet at the same time, I see the argument in Buck Showalter; he made the Orioles relevant after many, many years of suck, and had they managed to completely overtake the Yankees and win the East, I think he probably would have won. I believe Melvin's edge was the A's dramatic last-game-of-the-season win of the the West. In the NL, we saw Davey Johnson win by a landslide. The Nationals won a MLB-best 90 games. Hard to argue.

Likewise, the AL Rookie of the Year award, which would have been won by Yoenis Cespedes 99 seasons out of 100 (Hell, can you imagine Cespedes up against Bobby Crosby?), went to the slam-dunk Mike Trout, and there was no other choice, and although Wade Miley put together a fantastic rookie season, the NL award went to Bryce Harper.

The Cy Young award saw David Price narrowly edge Justin Verlander and R.A. Dickey best Clayton Kershaw and Gio Gonzalez. In somewhat of a hilarious quote from Sports Illustrated: Neither of those two [Dickey and Kershaw] was the best pitcher in the majors in 2012. Nor, for that matter, was AL Cy Young award winner Price.

Obviously SI is arguing that Justin Verlander should have won the award, and wow, was it ever a close vote. Dickey's amazing story is chronicled in the SI article, which does try to make the best of things; as they put it: Wednesday night was a good night for baseball, even if the numbers say the wrong men won.

Hey, at least someone cares about the numbers. In what is as an absurd parody piece as the one about the Giants being the Anti-Moneyball team, this gem discusses the most controversial award; the AL MVP.

Let me start with the title: Mitch Albom: Miggy's award a win for fans, defeat for stats geeks. Hoo boy.

The rest of the article goes about how you would expect. Miguel Cabrera won in all of the "real" baseball numbers; i.e. homeruns, RBI, and batting average. All Trout did was win the made-up numbers.

But Trout excelled in the kind of numbers that weren't even considered a few years ago, mostly because A) They were impossible to measure, and B) Nobody gave a hoot.

Here's the thing. It's not that Trout won using some newfangled numbers. What has happened in baseball is that people ("stat-geeks" if you prefer), have proven that the "new" set of numbers is a much better way of measuring how good a player is than the "old" numbers. We've had the argument a million times. Batting average and RBI are all but irrelevant in evaluating how good one player is against another. Especially when one player bats, oh let's say, leadoff, and the other bats, oh let's say, in the middle of the lineup. Do people really not see how RBI may be dependent on a) how many runners your team puts on base for you and/or b) how often you get a chance to drive runs in? (Bangs head against wall)

My new friend Mitch is not finished.

Plus he has intangibles

Besides, if you live in Detroit, you didn't need a slide rule. This was an easy choice. People here watched Cabrera, 29, tower above the game in 2012. Day after day, game after game, he was a Herculean force. Valuable? What other word was there? How many late-inning heroics? How many clutch hits? And he only missed one game all year.

He actually says this. Literally, it is the height of my ironic commentary on baseball when I bust out "Plus, he has intangibles". It's a joke. It's...not a joke? I'm so confused.

And love the cheap shot about Trout missing games. How is it his fault that the Angels' didn't call him up until a month had passed?

And he closes the article of ridiculousness with this line: In the end, memories were more powerful than microchips.

Sweet, that.

And the whole truth is that he's not exactly wrong. Keeping in mind where baseball still is, and the very real fact that the revered Triple Crown is still in play as a benchmark, Cabrera should have won under those guidelines. The Triple Crown is the Holy Grail of baseball. It shouldn't be; two of its three pillars are crap stats, and a whole lot of people know it now, but no one sums it up better than Cabrera himself:

"I think if I don't win the Triple Crown, if I don't get into the playoffs, I think there's no question Trout would be the MVP," Cabrera said. "I think winning the Triple Crown helped me a lot to win this. I think [getting to the playoffs] helped me a lot."

He's dead right. Cabrera won because of baseball's insistence that the Triple Crown winner means something more than it does. Also because the Tigers made the playoffs and the Angels did not.

And even though:

Yes, it's true, Trout is faster, Trout is a better defensive player, Trout is a leadoff hitter, and Trout edged Cabrera in several of those made-for-Microsoft categories.

Cabrera still won, even though apparently, he's a Mac? C'mon now. It's just ridiculous. We've come a long way, but there is still a long, long way to go.

As almost an afterthought, the NL MVP went to Buster Posey. They Giants may have missed the MOY, but they rewarded the comeback kid with the MVP.

So what do you think? What would you have done? And is there any case for Cabrera that doesn't involved the words, "Triple Crown", "clutch", or "calm-eyed"?

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