Originally Posted by dougdirt
Based on pure hitting, Cabrera has a 196 OPS+ (my favorite offensive stat since it attempts to normalize your playing environments throughout the season) compared to Trout having a 183 OPS+.
Cabrera ranks first, Trout ranks 2nd. The gap here is decently sized.
Bat goes to Cabrera.
Based on pure base running, Trout has 32 steals (7 CS) and Miguel Cabrera has 3 steals (0 CS). Let's also add in that Trout is very, very, very, very likely to be adding a significant amount of value in just base running when he doesn't steal given his elite speed, while Cabrera is probably a bit of a negative base runner given his complete lack of speed.
Fangraphs says the difference between the two guys in "base running" is 10 runs, or roughly one win. That passes my sniff test. The gap here is huge, even if you don't want to rely on the FG values, I don't think anyone would actually argue that there isn't a huge gap in production between the two players here.
Base running goes to Trout.
Yes, he's got a bunch more stolen bases...but were they valuable? Not that I can tell. He hasn't scored any more runs than Miggy, even with the thefts, hitting first, having more ab's, etc. I like the stolen base more than most, but I think this part is getting too much weight in the formula IMO. Especially when it doesn't lead to something. If we can calculate when the stolen base equates to a run and THEN figure it in...that would be an improvement imo.
Based on pure fielding, we have Mike Trout as an above-average defender in both left field and in center field. You can attach numbers to it if you choose, or you can just say he is darn good in the outfield. Miguel Cabrera on the other hand is a well below average fielder at his position. Again, you can attach numbers if you want to, or you can just say he isn't good.
There is a huge gap here and if you wanted to use numbers you can, but I don't think anyone would argue that Trout has a huge advantage in pure defensive abilities over Cabrera when compared to their positional counterparts on defense.
Fielding goes to Trout.
Just using the eye test, I agree with you that Trout is the much better defender. So why is his defensive WAR negative? As for Miggy, he's below average over there, but he's not a butcher either IMO. Not to mention that it's not even his natural position. He moved to benefit the team and allow a place for Prince to play. And again, I think this part is factored too heavily in WAR. And this is coming from a defensive freak. :O)
Then the last thing I would add is the positional scarcity. I am sure some won't put much into this, but I do. It is a lot tougher to find guys to play center than it is to play third. That also gets Trout a boost in his value.
Positional adjustment goes to Trout.
The argument comes down to just how much weight you place directly on the bat versus the entire package of a player. In this specific case, I am of the belief that Mike Trout's non-bat production makes up more than enough to overcome the decent advantage that Miguel Cabrera has with the bat-production.
I like this last part. Definitely a fair point. But should a player be judged better than another simply because the others at his position are poor or hard to come by? I think this is nearly impossible to quantify.
Thanks guys for the feedback. I was hoping that your decisions weren't just WAR, WAR and more WAR. I think it's a useful stat, but not good enough to define one player as better than another. I need more.