Despite capturing the first Triple Crown in 45 years, Miguel Cabrera had to overcome an energized faction of Mike Trout supporters within the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America in order to earn American League MVP honors last season.
For Trout backers, WAR was the answer.
Wins Above Replacement, which has swelled in popularity over the last five years, measures the value a player adds to his team when compared to a replacement player in integers of single wins. In 2012, Baseball-Reference.com calculated that Trout, a rookie, added 10.9 wins to the Angels’ final win total while Cabrera gave the Tigers 7.27 wins.
Arizona Diamondbacks’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has led the National League in home runs and RBI, collecting his 100th on Tuesday, for the majority of the 2013 season, but WAR may sabotage his MVP chances.
Entering play on Wednesday, Goldschimdt ranks third in WAR among National Leaguers, single-handedly adding 5.6 wins to the Diamondbacks’ win total thus far according to the metric. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, seen by many as the favorite in the MVP race, and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Carlos Gomez have both accrued higher WAR values in 2013, based on statistics compiled by Baseball-Reference.com, largely due to the defensive performance — which are factored into WAR calculations — of the two outfielders.
ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian discussed Goldschmidt’s MVP odds on Wednesday while a guest with Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo.
“Andrew McCutchen, last time I looked at least, had a higher WAR than Paul Goldschmidt,” Kurkjian said. “And that’s where stat guys are coming in on this.”
Kurkjian went on to mention the importance of the eye test.
“I’m worried about where we’re going in baseball,” he opined. “We’re no longer watching the games. We’re determining who the MVP of the league is by looking at a set of statistics on a computer screen.
“If you watch the Diamondbacks play and you ask yourself where they’d be without Paul Goldschmidt — it’s ridiculous how far they’d be out.”
While WAR may wreak havoc on Goldschmidt’s hopes, the Diamondbacks’ final standing in the division won’t, Kurkjian says.
“I am not going to hold it against Paul Goldschmidt if his team doesn’t make the playoffs, but he has the best year and keeps them in it all year.”
Basic contention, Kurkjian pointed out, is the real prerequisite for MVP consideration.
“If you’re playing meaningful games for a team that is in contention, you are going to get extra credit points.”