First off, I just want to say that whenever one of your own gets the premiere individual award in all of baseball, it’s an awesome feeling. To see someone homegrown, it’s even more special.
Congrats to Buster. We really are watching the genesis of a future legend in Posey, and we lucky to have this once in a generation player on our team.
Now, onto the more talked about MVP in the American League. Miguel Cabrera, even though he was a lock to win, won by a much larger margin than expected, carrying 22 out of 28 first place votes.
It’s a vote that could have gone either way and it would have been deserving. One (Cabrera) was obviously the better hitter, the other (Trout) the better fielder and baserunner. Since the season ended, I have been saying that it’s a travesty that Cabrera was going to win over Trout. But after, further thought, I realized that Cabrera winning isn’t a travesty, and the thing that got me all worked up was the true travesty, the reasons why Cabrera won.
Considering one voter, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beach Journal (who should be banned from ever voting on any award ever again) voted Beltre over Trout for second place, thus breaking a potential 14-14 tie, Trout would have needed nine more votes to beat out Cabrera. And there’s two things that would have definitely shifted the award in Trout’s favor:
1. Detroit won their division, while the Angels missed out on the playoffs. Using team performance to justify Cabrera as MVP, when the Angels had a better record by one game in a much tougher division is baffling. The Tigers had the seventh best record out of 14 teams in the American League, and you award the MVP to one of their players based on team performance? Are you kidding me? And if you factor in that the Angels strength of schedule (average winning percentage of opponents in each of the 162 games) was .513, while the Tigers was .495, the Angels were clearly the better team. Had the Angels been in the Central, they likely would have run away with the division, while the Tigers would have been a distant fourth place in the West.
If the Tigers had missed out on the playoffs, or the Angels had made it, Trout would have easily made up that nine game swing. And yet, Cabrera was given the Award because the White Sox, Royals, Indians, and Twins were significantly inferior to the A’s, Rangers, and Angels.
2. The triple crown. Yeah, it’s a cool accomplishment, but it shouldn’t be a factor. If one believes that Cabrera was the MVP with or without the triple crown, that’s fine. But the triple crown is not a reason to give Cabrera MVP, and here’s why:
Cabrera lead the league with 44 home runs. Josh Hamilton and Curtis Granderson both had 43. Had either of those two hit two more, Cabrera would not have won the triple crown. So if some player on another team hit two more homers, would that have made Cabrera any less valuable, or Trout any more valuable? If you believe that the triple crown is the reason why Cabrera deserves MVP, then your answer is yes. And I truly believe that had Cabrera not won the triple crown, then Trout would have won the MVP.
The real debate is whether or not Cabrera’s offensive superiority outweighed Trout’s defensive and baserunning superiority. Let’s take a closer look:
Considering it is the most valuable player award, we need to look at it from the standpoint of how many games Cabrera and Trout won for their respective teams. And let’s throw WAR out the window, as if you’re going by that, Ben Zobrist would be a two-time MVP. Hell, Robinson Cano beat out Cabrera for second place, and there’s nobody other than possibly some biased Yankee fans that will say that Cano was more deserving of Cabrera this year.
The huge gap in stolen bases doesn’t really make as much of a difference as one would think. I looked at each of Trout’s stolen bases, and removed the following that were ultimately non factors in the team’s record:
*steals games in which the Angels lost, or won by two or more runs
*steals in which Trout failed to score or would have scored regardless
All in all, Trout had just one game in which his baserunning made a difference (June 11th against the Dodgers). So despite having 45 more steals than Cabrera, it made a measly one game difference.
As for defensive, yes Trout was a far superior defender. But how much of a difference did that make? According to uZR, which determines how many runs a player saves or costs his team with his glove, Cabrera cost the Tigers pitchers 10 runs with his glove while Trout saved the Angels pitchers 11 runs. Over the course of a season, that accounts to two fewer wins for the Tigers and one more win for the Angels, making Trout’s net defensive value over Cabrera 3 games.
So if you factor in that Trout’s defense and baserunning was four games better than Cabrera, does Cabrera’s bat make a difference? Let’s take a look.
The best way to do this, again, is to look at each players game by game performance in each of their team’s respective wins. The most precise way to do this would be to look up the results of every win, and replace each hit or walk with an out and see how many fewer runs their team would have scored. If the difference was equal or greater to the margin of victory for that game, they get credit for the win.
However, that would take way too long, so instead, I’ll simply look at runs and RBIs, divide it by two (so they don’t get double credit for home runs and half credit for driving in a run or being driven in by somebody else). If it comes out to half a number, I round up:
Cabrera’s bat made a difference in 16 wins. Trout’s bat was a factor in 14 (not counting the one where I already gave him credit for the stolen base winning the game).
So overall, Trout accounted for 17 wins for the Angels, while Cabrera played a part in 15 wins. Granted, the Tigers and Angels still probably win about half of those games without their stars, leaving Trout with 9 wins and Cabrera with 8, making Trout one game more valuable.
There’s also one other factor you have to take into account, and that’s something that (rightfully) plays a huge factor in the MVP voting every year, and that’s performance during the stretch drive. Trout put up phenomenal numbers from May to July, but had a massive drop-off in August and September, putting up far less than MVP numbers. Cabrera on the other hand, put up MVP numbers the entire time. If you flip their performances the last two months of the season, the Tigers don’t come close to sniffing the playoffs, while the Angels win the West easily. So despite Trout being slightly more valuable in terms of games won for his team, it is more than reasonable to give the MVP to Cabrera because he came through when his team needed him the most.
Either one would have been a good choice. Just not for the reasons Cabrera won.
And just for the hell of it, I will calculate the difference Posey made for the Giants. You can’t really factor in defense considering the defensive stats for catcher are not conclusive (although the Giants did get some wins for the way he handled the staff), but on offense alone he factored in a 20 game difference using this formula, meaning the Giants would have won 10 fewer games without his bat alone. Factor in the way he handled the pitching staff was way more effective than any sort of defensive performance possible by a player at any other position, it is clear that Posey is not only the National League MVP, but MLB’s Most Valuable Player.
Before I get into the post, I just want to do a little introduction. As a die-hard Giants fan, I figure I would create this blog as an outlet for my thoughts, analysis, lists, rankings, random tidbits, and whatever else is on my mind. Eventually, I will come up with some sort of catchy name, but for now, San Francisco Giants Blog will have to do. I will try to post as often as I can about the latest news, games, or for now, whatever is going on in the hot stove. I’ll also try to find a few contributors to help post their thoughts to add some variety to it.
Now, that that is out of the way, I feel like I want to put this second championship in three years into words. I wanted to write up something similar, but just simply couldn’t find the right words. Now I think I can do it.
For all my life, all I wanted was to see the Giants win one World Series. It finally happened on November 1, 2010. At the time,
This time, I think I have more perspective. When the Giants won in 2010, I thought I would be satisfied for life. I thought all the pain from all the heartbreak from over the years would go away, from winning 103 games in 1993 and not even making the playoffs, to blowing the 7-0 lead on the last day of the season thanks to walk off home run by Neifi Perez, forcing a one game playoff against the Cubs in which the Giants eventually lost, to losing back to back extra inning games to the Mets in 2000 followed by a one hitter by Bobby Jones, to game 6 in 2002, to Jose Cruz’ dropped fly ball, Steve Finley’s grand slam, and everything in between. With each World Series win, the pain has lessened, but I now know that it will never fully go away. I also now realize that no matter how many World Series the Giants win, I will always want another one as badly as I wanted that first one.
Knowing this has enabled me to cherish this one more than 2010. After the Giants won it in 2010, I thought I would be riding that high the rest of my life, but once that banner was raised, the players got their rings, and the 2011 season was underway, it was back to business as usual. Knowing what to expect will enable me to appreciate this next six months
I didn’t think 2010 could be topped, but this championship felt even better. 2010 will always be special because it was the first time most of us Giants fans got to witness a World Series title, but the way they won it this year, going on a roll and running away with the division, coming back from the dead twice, and then sweeping the World Series, has made it even more special. On top of that, the 2010 regular season was mostly uneventful. Can anyone recall anything memorable, other than the clincher on the last day of the season? This year, we had a perfect game, dominated the All Star game with four starters, including the winning pitcher and MVP (and yes, I’ll still lay claim to that MVP since if it wasn’t Melky, it would have been Pablo, who should have won it anyway). We saw the emergence of Buster Posey into one of baseball’s elite, complete with a battle title, comeback player of the year award, and the obvious MVP.
Anyone that is a vital part of any World Series team will have a special spot in the team’s history and it’s fans hearts. But to think, a franchise that couldn’t win a World Series with McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal, Perry, Bonds, and countless other greats (and only one with Willie Mays), means that those guys that were a crucial part of both World Series teams deserve mention among the greatest Giants ever, and I want to give them all a special mention.
Starting off with Brian Sabean. I’ve been as big of a Sabean critic as anyone, and with good reason. After he won Executive of the Year Award in 2003, he made a lot of idiotic moves for a lot of years. However, after building two World Series teams, it’s hard to say anything negative about him at the moment.
Bruce Bochy was another one I wasn’t exactly a fan of. I wasn’t too thrilled when they signed him as manager prior to the 2007 season, and made quite a few questionable moves. However, the way he managed the team during both post-season runs has established him as an immortal in Giants history, and the greatest manager the team has had since John McGraw. And watching his managing compared to Dusty Baker during the NLDS shows how much better we have it compared to what we had to endure from 1993-2002.
There were 11 players that were on the post-season roster in both 2010 and 2012, the last person to have done that with the Giants prior was Hall of Fame shortstop Travis Jackson who was on the 1922 and 1933 World Series championship teams. Guillermo Mota was pretty much along for the ride both times, Pablo Sandoval was a non factor in 2008, and Aubrey Huff was a non factor this season. That leaves eight players that deserve special mention:
Matt Cain has been with the organization for over a decade now, and it has been special watching him move through the system from 2002-2005, and gradually improving each year since his rookie season in 2006 before becoming one of baseball’s elite pitchers this season. As the longest tenured Giant, and signed through 2018 (which would make it 14 seasons with the team and 17 with the organization if he makes it to the end), already having won two world series, pitched a perfect game, and continually getting better, he has a good chance of his name being up there with the likes of Mathewson, Hubbell, and Marichal among the greatest Giants pitchers ever.
Despite his miserable regular season, Tim Lincecum is still the rock star of the team, as evident by the reaction at AT&T Park every time he warmed up the bullpen or entered in relief during the post-season. And while he wasn’t the ace he was during his two Cy Young seasons or the first World Series year, the Giants likely don’t win the second championship if he doesn’t pitch the way he did out of the bullpen this year.
To think that Madison Bumgarner just turned 23 and has already done what he has done is unbelievable. To put things in perspective, Lincecum was still in the minor leagues, while Cain was going through some serious growing pains. He’s already played a crucial part in two World Series teams and just missed making the All Star team this year (not to mention was one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2011 after his horrible start. He may have hit a rough patch down the stretch and into the post-season, but the fact that he has had pitched 15 shutout innings with 14 strikeouts in two World Series starts is remarkable.
Then there’s the bullpen. Sergio Romo almost singlehandly cost the Giants the NLDS against the Braves in the NLDS in 2010 and didn’t pitch in any key situations after that, but they would not have won the division without him. On top of that, the past two years he’s been one of the best relief pitchers in the game (arguably the best), the majority of the time being virtually unhittable, and once he emerged from the bullpen by committee as the ninth inning guy, the rest of the bullpen fell into place. The trade with the Pirates for Javier Lopez in 2010 was crucial to the Giants World Series run that year, and has continued to be one of the premiere lefty specialists. When it’s a late game crucial situation and the other team’s best left handed hitter is up, you know Lopez will get the job done when Bochy brings him. Jeremy Affeldt is almost as good as getting lefties out but is equally effective with lefties. He has hit some rough patches at times over the past few years, but his clutch pitching during both post-season runs will go down as something of Giants legend. And Santiago Casilla has been top notch in the bullpen over the past few seasons, aside from his failed run as closer this year.
That brings me to the cornerstone of the franchise, Buster Posey. He’s basically played two seasons in the big leagues (2011 doesn’t really count), and has arguably meant more to the team than any player since Willie Mays. If he doesn’t break his leg last year, we may be looking at a three-peat. We are truly witnessing the beginning of what is possibly a once in a generation player. Considering he was still recovering from his injury during the first half, he should be even better next year, to the offensive levels not seen by any catcher other than Piazza (except unlike Piazza, he’s actually decent behind the plate and continually improving). Factor in the Jason Varitek/ Derek Jeter like leadership, and we are witnessing the early stages of the career of someone who will (assuming he stays healthy) eventually become one of the game’s all time greats.
Overall, this is a very special time for our franchise. One World Series win is special. Twice in three years is surreal. We may repeat, or we may very well never see one again. All I know is I will continue to savior the moment like I have been.
P.S. I am looking for contributors on this blog to help me out. If interested, just hit me up in the comments section below.