Let’s go back to Trout vs. Cabrera.
Central to any MVP argument involving position player vs. position player (as opposed to the always fruitless endeavors of position player vs. pitcher vs. relief pitcher) is how one interprets the word “valuable.” We could debate that one until the Pirates win another World Series.
Trout was a better pure baseball player in 2012 than Cabrera. Until his legs fall off, he always will be. But Cabrera is now baseball’s best hitter, and the Tigers aren’t very deep in quality bats. He meant a whole heck of a lot to his team, even if he was no threat to win a Gold Glove. His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) was .999. That’s pretty good.
Trout’s OPS was .963. He was an absurdly productive baserunner (start with 49 of 54 in stolen bases and go from there). You could have produced a Top 25 reel of highlight catches. Adjustments? He hit better in his third at-bats than in his first two.
I’ve always been more of a Player of the Year guy. I would have voted for Mike Trout.
But it’s not because his WAR (9.1) was better than Cabrera’s (6.6). If I’m going to deal with a stat, I prefer a stat that is actually a stat, not a shaky opinion.
WAR is nonsense. I urge General James to get control of his troops.
Bob Ryan's column appears regularly in the Globe. He can be reached at email@example.com.