Everyone is familiar with Mike Trout's sensational rookie season. And I mean everyone. It's not just the media that were going crazy over the Angels' youngster, it was the baseball world in general. I would flick through blogs, fansites and comments and people would be mentioning Mike Trout, the 21 year-old superstar who was supposed to be the best guy to play baseball since Babe Ruth. He was the guy who single-handedly carried the Angels to (almost) a spot in the postseason. He was the one who could've won ROY and MVP in the same year (and was probably thrown out there for Cy Young, just for the hell of it). He was the one who had a fantastic season despite not playing in April. He was the one... Well, you know what I mean.
Meanwhile, the A's had this guy called Yonis Cespeds, who was doing OK and stuff and I guess he was a good hitter but OMFG DID YOU SEE MIKE TROUT'S AWESOME CATCH LAST NIGHT LOL!!!
Call me a hater, heartless or just a regular a-hole, but I got bored of the Mike Trout stuff. In fact, I started to get annoyed at the fact that I couldn't escape from the guy. I knew things were bad when he won the AL MVP award three times in a row in OOTP 13. And when he won the MVP Award in MLB: The Show.
So, I decided "You know what? Maybe he shouldn't have won the Rookie of the Year Award. Maybe Cespeds or whatever his name was had a better year. Maybe it should've been closer than it was." So, I researched. And I honestly did not know what I would find, so you may reach the end of this post and realize that everything I did was pointless and that Trout really was a baseball god.
I decided that I wouldn't look at the basic stats like BA and HRs, as those really don't prove anything when you want to go in to detail in a big research project (unless you analyze them in splits). I decided to jump straight into sabermetrics, and here's what I found:
Mike Trout had a WAR of 10.7.
Well, balls to that. My goal was to prove that Cespedes was better than Trout, and this big number was not going to help the cause. So, I decided not to scrap it (and, after thought, I decided not to put it as a tiny little footnote at the bottom of the page), and I put it in nice bold letters (not too big though). On the other hand, Cespedes did have a lower K% (18.9% as opposed to Trout's 21.8%). A small victory, but a victory nonetheless. Plus, this meant that Cespedes had the edge in another stat, the BB/K ratio: 0.49 to 0.48. I continued to peruse the statistics, and saw that Cespedes also had a lower GB%: just 40.5% to Trout's 44.4%. Cespedes also had a higher "Pace" than Trout, but I don't even know what the hell that is, so I omitted that from any important corner of my brain.
Lucky for me, a quick look at the fielding stats for both players revealed that though Trout had a higher FLD%, Cespedes had nine assists to Trout's, and one less error. Cespedes's arm was a 6.7, while Trout's was a -3.8, and while I'm not totally sure what that is (maybe an rating of how effective the guy's arm is?) it looked pretty good. You hear that people? A negative number associated with Mike Trout... Damn....
Anyhow, the rest of the sabermetric stats I saw weren't... encouraging, so I moved on to look at splits. I saw that Cespedes was a far more even hitter than Trout (Trout batted .267 vs. lefties and .346 vs. righties, while Cespy batted .298 against lefties and .289 against righties). In addition to this, Trout's September numbers were pretty lackluster (.257, 6 RBI and 32 strikeouts in 101 at-bats), whilst Cespedes managed to drive in 19 runs in 28 games, striking out just 19 times in 108 at-bats. A general look at the September splits shows that Cespedes definitely had a better month than Trout, meaning that it seems Cespedes got hot when the A's really needed him, whilst Trout cooled down when LA could've really used him to help that playoff push. Numbers versus contending teams didn't show much (both players performed well, and both were absolute Yankee killers with a combined 4 homeruns and 11 RBI in 56 at-bats, as well as on-base percentages through the roof). I couldn't find any other meaningful splits, so I moved on situational stats.
Both players were great with RISP but the real difference was with RISP and two outs; Trout wasn't by any means bad, but he was nothing compared to Cespy's 3 homeruns, 23 RBI and 1.025 OPS in 52 AB's. Plus, Trout went a mere 19-for-73 with men on and two outs, while Cespedes drove in 30 runs in 97 at-bats. I then went to look a hitting stats in specific counts. Both guy were behemoths when swinging at the first pitch, with averages well over .400 and a combined 6 homeruns and 25 RBI in 88 at-bats. I didn't find anything else special in pitch splits, and so it seemed I had reached the end of my research project, with a rather unsurprising result:
Mike Trout had an absolutely fantastic rookie season.
Yep. The stats prove it. The kid really was phenomenal, and maybe he was all he was made out to be. Still:
Yoenis Cespedes also had a great rookie season.
Cespedes was never a sure thing, he was a "risk" entering the season. He may not have done as well as Trout, but he was a big part of the team for us and not only did he develop a ton over the course of the season (both as a hitter and as a fielder) but he also always seemed to be there when we needed him most, coming up with big hits in the clutch and battling through a wrist injury to play some great baseball.
What have I learned from this? Baseball research is fun... But apart from that, I jsut proved myself right. I knew that Trout had a far better year than Cespy, but there's some stuff that you can't put into numbers and to me Yoenis Cespedes had a brilliant year for the A's and at least a shot at ROY.
Thanks to fangaphs and Yahoo! Sports for putting a ton of stats out there that helped me do this. I don't understand half of the stuff you do (especially concerning sabermetrics) but I admire you nonetheless.