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Entries in Mike Trout (16)

Thursday
Nov152012

Why I would vote for Miguel Cabrera for MVP

In today’s New York TimesNate Silver makes a persuasive statistical analysis as to why Mike Trout is more deserving of the AL MVP over Miguel Cabrera. The great Silver, who is on my personal/professional Mt. Rushmore next to Bill James and Sean Forman, slices, dices and even juliennes the numbers and makes a convincing argument as to how Trout’s numbers are clearly, albeit slightly, better versus Cabrera.

However, while I do agree that statistically Trout is the “all-around player of the year,” I still believe Cabrera was the “most valuable,” and here’s why. Silver compares Cabrera versus Trout, I would prefer to compare Cabrera and his Tigers versus the league in the highly pressured pennant race from September 1 forward.

On the morning of September 1, the Tigers had a record of 70-61 and Trout’s Angels had a record of 70-62, virtually the same and each team was about the same out of the AL Wild Card race. From that point on, the Tigers record was 18-13 and the Angels an even better 19-11. But in this drive to the postseason, who was the team’s MVP?

When it counted in September, Mike Trout hit .289 with five homers and nine RBI striking out 35 times in 135 plate appearances while Miguel Cabrera hit .333 with 11 homers and 30 RBI and 25 whiffs in 129 plate appearances.

Expand it by a month and you will find that from August 1 to October 3, Trout hit .287 with 12 homers and 28 RBI, with 49 runs scored and 18 steals with 67 whiffs, while Cabrera hit .344 with 19 homers and 54 RBI, with 42 runs scored and no steals but striking out just 39 times.

Cabrera had an OBP of .411, slugged .670, resulting in a 1.081 OPS

I will grant that Nate is right on everything he wrote (and I trust his analysis more than mine), but when it comes to the AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera is his Heidi Heitkamp.

Tuesday
Nov132012

Harper, Trout Polar Opposites on the First Pitch

Bryce Harper and Mike Trout turned in epic seasons while taking home Rookie of the Year Honors. In addition to their swift defense and base running savvy, Harper (whose 22 HR trailed only Tony Conigliaro among all teenage hitters) and Trout (whose 171 OPS+ was highest ever for a player qualifying for the batting title during his age-20 season) were historically dangerous in the batter's box. But the two stars destined to be compared to each other for decades to come began their at-bats in markedly different ways. Harper was ultra-aggressive on the first pitch. Trout, by contrast, rarely took the lumber off his shoulder in 0-0 counts.

Check out Harper and Trout's swing rates by pitch location in 0-0 counts:

Harper's first-pitch swing rate by pitch location

 

Trout' first-pitch swing rate by pitch location

Harper took one of his hellacious cuts about 41% of the time in first-pitch counts, dwarfing the 26% major league average. The only qualified hitters with a higher first-pitch swing rate were Josh Hamilton, Ian Desmond, B.J. Upton, Freddie Freeman, Yadier Molina, Delmon Young, Danny Espinosa and Chris Davis. Harper's aggression paid off, as he slugged .659 on the first pitch (.579 MLB average).

Trout swung just under 10% of the time in first-pitch situations. Kevin Youkilis, Martin Prado, Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia and J.J. Hardy were the only batters with a more passive approach on the first pitch. While Harper chased 24% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone in 0-0 counts, Trout showed Zen-like patience by going after only 5% of first-pitch offerings (14% MLB average).

Two all-time great rookies, two totally different (and effective) ways of beginning ABs. Harper embraced his inner Josh Hamilton, lunging at first pitches and tallying lots of extra-base knocks. Trout channeled Rickey Henderson, laying off would-be balls and later doing damage in hitter's counts. Sorry, pitchers: whether these guys swing at the first pitch or not, you really don't stand a chance.

Thursday
Nov082012

Hot Spots for '12 AL MVP Finalists

The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced finalists for its awards on Wednesday, including American League MVP. Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton or Mike Trout will get the hardware next Thursday on MLB Network. Here's a quick look at each candidate's heat map during the 2012 season. Unlike on election night, there's a lot of red here.

Adrian Beltre

Beltre mashed middle pitches -- his .786 slugging percentage on offerings thrown to the horizontal middle of the plate ranked second among qualified batters (Adam LaRoche was first):

Miguel Cabrera

Miggy, meanwhile, was the game's most dangerous hitter when pitchers tried to bust him inside. Cabrera slugged .673 against inside pitchers, slightly edging out Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper:

Robinson Cano

Cano had two major hot spots: down and in, and high and way. He slugged .614 versus down-and-in pitches (nearly 180 points above the MLB average) and .698 on high-and-away stuff (290 points above the MLB average).

 

Josh Hamilton

Hamilton's hot spot was, well, everywhere:

He ranked in the top 10 in slugging against inside, middle, and away pitches. Hamilton's prowess against in-zone pitches (he slugged .817 against pitches thrown in the zone, best in the majors and 123 points above runner-up Ryan Braun) explains why pitchers so rarely challenged him. Hamilton saw the lowest percentage on in-zone pitches (35.1%) of any qualified hitter. Prince Fielder ranked a distant second at 40.7%.

Mike Trout

Unless pitchers went high-and-inside or painted low and away, Trout made them pay. The 21-year-old was especially deadly against pitches thrown to the horizontal middle of the zone, ranking fourth among hitters with a .758 slugging percentage: