Archive for August, 2013

NFL Pre-Season Predictions- NFC

Posted: 08/31/2013 by levcohen in Football

The season starts on Thursday, and it starts with a bang, with the Superbowl Champion Baltimore Ravens traveling to Denver for a match-up with the Broncos (the fact that the SB winners open away from home is another controversy, but that is a different story). With that in mind, it’s about time to start predicting how this whole season will turn out, and although I’m sure I’ll be wrong about most of my predictions, it doesn’t hurt to try. Today will be the NFC, with the next post being the AFC.

NFC East:

1. Washington Redskins (9-7): This division, like in previous years, is 100% up for grabs. No team in this division is terrible, but no team will be dominant. With that in mind, I’ll take the team with the best quarterback in the division. Robert Griffin III has been cleared for week one, which seemed inevitable, and he should be at full strength against the Eagles on Monday Night Football. The Redskins don’t have the easiest out of division schedule, as they have to play the Packers, Broncos, and Vikings on the road. Still, they have RG3, and they have Alfred Morris, who is arguably the best running back in the division (LeSean McCoy might have something to say about that). Three things keep me from granting them double digit wins: lack of WR depth (and the #1 WR, Pierre Garcon, is seemingly always injured), lack of QB mobility (RG3 will wear a knee brace, and last year when we wore it his mobility clearly went down), and pass coverage questions (the run defense is good, but the pass defense is suspect).

2. New York Giants (8-8): The Giants always seem to be in the mix, with Eli Manning at quarterback. This year should be no difference. The Giants have a lot of weapons on offense, with young David Wilson (5 YPC as a rookie) leading the running attack and wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz returning. Eli loves throwing to the tight end, and now he has a reliable one in Brandon Myers. But the defense should be average at best. The linebacker group is very suspect, and the injuries are piling up. This looks like no better or worse than an average team.

3. Dallas Cowboys (7-9): Tony Romo is a very good NFL quarterback, but he doesn’t seem to have a huge fan backing, because he is not “clutch”. Well, I don’t think the Cowboys are going to be playing a playoff game this season, so that perception of Romo will probably not change. He does have the weapons to get it done, with stud WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten. But the running game was suspect (at best) last season, and the defense is probably below average. This looks like a seven win team.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9): Now on to the Eagles, the biggest mystery in the NFL this year. Chip Kelly is in Philly, and he promises to bring his high octane Oregon offense with him. I’d bet that sounds pretty good to Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson, but not so much to the secondary, which looks like it will be one of the worst in the NFL. They could put up 40 per game, but they could also allow 40. I like Chip Kelly, but I’m keeping my expectations in check.

NFC North:

1. Green Bay Packers (10-6): The Packers lost Greg Jennings, but they still add a ton of offensive weapons and added one more, in former Alabama running back Eddie Lacy. They have the best QB in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. Randall Cobb might catch more passes than any other player. James Jones catches a lot of touchdowns. Jordy Nelson is a deep threat. The offense might be the best in the NFL, and the defense should be adequate enough for the Packers to make the playoffs.

2. Chicago Bears (9-7): The Bears have a new coach, and they have a great defense, even without Brian Urlacher. Plus, they have a top tier receiver (Brandon Marshall) and running back (Matt Forte). They have perhaps the best kick returner in NFL history (Devin Hester). So why is this a nine win team? Because I have no confidence in Jay Cutler. If Cutler were even a top 15 QB, I think the Bears could rival the Packers in the North. But he isn’t, and they probably won’t. Weirder things have happened, though.

3. Detroit Lions (7-9): I expect some improvement from the Lions. They have too much talent not too improve. But I don’t think this is going to be a worst-to-first season for Detroit. Seven wins, like the similarly rebounding Eagles, seems fair enough.

4. Minnesota Vikings (6-10): Six wins for the Vikings?? I know, it seems low. But think about it. This team barely made the playoffs last year, and that was with Adrian Peterson having a totally mind blowing season. I expect regression from Peterson (although you can never be sure with him), and I don’t see the improvement by the rest of the team that will be needed if Minnesota wants to make the playoffs for the second straight year.

NFC South:

1. New Orleans Saints (10-6): I don’t love the defense, but I do think we should give the benefit of the doubt to Drew Brees and this Saints offense, with the bountygate scandal in the rear view mirror.

2. Atlanta Falcons (9-7): I see a little regression coming from Matt Ryan, and with a tougher schedule than last season and perhaps a little less luck, I think this team will be more mediocre than good this year. Still, though, they have the talented trio of pass catchers in Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, so this prediction might be a little pessimistic.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8): The trade for Darrelle Revis and the addition of former Niners safety Dashon Goldson really helps this underwhelming pass defense, and they should be pretty good defensively this year. Offensively, they have weapons, with second year running back Doug Martin and stud wide receiver Vincent Jackson leading the way. There are problem areas though. QB Josh Freeman had a terrible preseason, as did the Bucs in general (that influenced my moving down Tampa from 9-7 and second place to 8-8 and third.. That really shows how tight this division is). I’m still hopeful that Freeman and the Bucs put it all together, but I’m skeptical.

4. Carolina Panthers (8-8): Could this be the year that the Panthers break out and make the playoffs with Cam Newton and Luke Keuchly at the helm? Maybe, but I don’t think so. This division is so tough, and the Panthers don’t have very many weapons around Newton (Steve Smith is good, but what else do they have? DeAngelo Williams? Greg Olsen? Brandon LaFell? Not anything teams will be worried about).

NFC West:

1. San Francisco 49ers (11-5): 49ers or Seahawks? You can just flip a coin, because this is going to be an amazing race. The 49ers have a terrific all around team, from Colin Kaepernick to by far the best offensive line in football to one of the two best defenses (with the Seahawks) in football. The reason I don’t have them winning the 13 games that most do is because I’m also a big fan of the Cardinals and Rams. I think one of the two, or maybe even both, can steal a game at home against San Francisco.

2. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): The Seahawks and 49ers are very similar. They have terrific all around teams, with slight weaknesses at wide receiver. This will be quite a rivalry. I think the Seahawks finally drop a game at home, and go just 4-4 on the road (how, I don’t know, but I have to even out the wins and losses), but cruise into the playoffs.

3. St. Louis Rams (8-8): The Rams are very overlooked, mostly because of the division that they play in. They added a lot of weapons around Sam Bradford (Tavon Austin and Jared Cook come to mind) and have deep threat Chris Givens returning. The defense isn’t good, but it also won’t be terrible, so why can’t this be an eight win team?

4. Arizona Cardinals (6-10): I don’t hate the Cardinals team. They have a good offense, and they have Larry Fitzgerald, which should be enough for anyone, but most people are predicting 3-4 wins for them. I’ll go a little higher than that, but this looks like the cellar dweller in the West.

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In perhaps the worst news of the 2013 MLB season (on the field at least, so not including Biogenesis and PEDs), Matt Harvey has, out of nowhere, been diagnosed with a partial tear in his elbow. He will, in all likelihood, require the dreaded Tommy John surgery. This is interesting and important in a bunch of ways. First, the last young pitcher with as much promise and quick success as Matt Harvey was Stephen Strasburg. Second, the common belief is that if you have a smooth delivery, you should be able to avoid major injury. Matt Harvey has a smooth delivery. Third, the Mets were contemplating shutting Harvey down in the near future.

Harvey and Strasburg

Three years and six days ago, Stephen Strasburg tore something in his elbow and required TJ surgery. He had a 2.91 ERA and 12.2 K/9. He was the hardest throwing starting pitcher in the game. Matt Harvey has been even better this year, with a 2.27 ERA, and although he doesn’t qualify as a rookie (he through more than 50 innings last year), he is just 24 years old. He also leads MLB in average fastball velocity (95.8). slider (89.7) and curveball (83.40). So he throws hard, and so does Strasburg. This will lead many people to connect throwing fast to hurting your elbow. But other pitchers have averaged over 95 MPH of fastball velocity in a season recently (Ubaldo Jimenez x3 since 2008, Justin Verlander x3 since 2009, Jeff Samarzjia last year, among others) and many of them have not gone on the DL the next season. Including Harvey, half of the pitchers who have averaged at least 95 MPH and thrown at least 120 innings have gone to the DL the next season. That seems really high, but 39% of total 120+ inning pitchers have hit the DL in the next season, so it isn’t that much more. And a sample size of 16 is really small.

Smooth Deliveries

One thing Stephen Strasburg doesn’t have is a smooth delivery. So it made sense when he got hurt, and scouts said it was inevitable. Then again, Chris Sale has the most un-smooth delivery ever, and he has never gotten hurt in his life. Clayton Kershaw has a hitch in his delivery, and he looks to be one of the most durable pitchers in the MLB. Matt Harvey, on the other hand, has a picture perfect delivery, much like Mark Price did. Both of those guys have now had elbow problems. So is the delivery thing as big of an issue as we thought, or is getting injured vs. not getting injured more a matter of luck?

Mets did everything right… and Harvey still got hurt

It is incredibly unfair to blame the Mets for Harvey’s injuries. They were monitoring his innings, and planned on shutting him down in September, seemingly minimizing his injury chances (you definitely can’t get injured if you don’t play, although Bulls center Carlos Boozer- I seem to remember Boozer breaking his leg while running to answer the door- begs to differ). But Harvey still got hurt. Just last year, the Nationals shut Stephen Strasburg down early, and possibly lost a chance at winning a playoff series (they lost in five games, barely– it’s fair to say that two games of Stephen Strasburg is the difference in that series), with the thought that they would have many more chances to contend, and why sacrifice the future? Well, here’s why: This year, the Nationals, projected by many to win the World Series, are under .500. So it’s pretty clear that teams should NOT impose strict innings limits if they are contending. For a non contending team, like the Miami Marlins with Jose Fernandez, shutting down an ace pitcher makes a lot more sense.

Normally I don’t write about Premier League Football, but this is an exception, because of how truly amazing it is. It’s so amazing that I can’t think of any good comparisons to American Sports. The best I can come up with is- what if the best D-League team was promoted to the NBA and beat the Heat or Thunder? That will never happen, because in American sports teams aren’t relegated or promoted (and because a D-League team could never beat an NBA one, anyway), but maybe this is an argument that they should be, because of how much more amazing sports could get.

This is Cardiff City’s first season in the Premier League since 1962. In that time, they’ve been in the Second Division, Third Division, and even the Fourth Division. Last year though, they won the Second Division championship, and were one of three teams promoted to the Premier League. Their first game was a disappointment: underdog Cardiff lost at West Ham 2-0, and they had the unfortunate task of playing their first home Premier League game in fifty years against one of the two richest and best teams in the league.

Manchester City, who won the Premier League two years ago, are co-favorites with Chelsea to win the league this season. They have become a powerhouse due to their willingness to spend money on expensive players (this year alone, they gave about £100,000,000 to Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo, and Stevan Jovetic- two of them started, and a third, Negredo, came on and scored a goal). They beat Newcastle United by four goals in their first game.

This game did not go according to what people thought. This game was supposed to be over by halftime, but the game was still scoreless through 45 minutes. Man City started putting pressure on Cardiff’s defense to start the second half, and Edin Dzeko scored a great goal in the 52nd minute. The sense was that the stronger team would run away with the game after the opener, but Cardiff fought back. They scored a sloppy goal, as Frazier Campbell missed a close shot but Aron Gunnarsson put the rebound in. Then City took control of the ball again, and crowded the box as they got repeated chances to put the ball in the net, but didn’t capitalize. Cardiff countered, and got a corner in the 79th minute, which turned into a goal, as Joe Hart couldn’t get a hand on a ball near the six yard box and an unmarked Campbell easily headed it in the net. City pushed up again, but Cardiff got another corner less than 10 minutes later, and Campbell got another easy header. The score was 3-1 going into stoppage time, but the game was far from over. Manchester City again took control of the game, and finally got one in as Alvaro Negredo headed in his first Premier League goal. They then had three minutes of continuous pressure, but Sergio Aguero flubbed a finish and Cardiff survived, winning 3-2.

Now, City controlled the ball for most of the hectic second half, and are clearly still the better side. But this should, and undoubtedly will, worry their fans. Their main trouble in this game was obviously defending the corners, as that was their ultimate undoing. Javi Garcia, normally a center midfielder, was forced to play center back (MC needs to do something about that), so that makes sense, and it needs to be improved upon.

This was a shocker, and it was a huge win for Cardiff City and Wales- maybe, in fact, the difference between being relegated again and hanging on to their Premier League spot- but it shouldn’t really change Manchester City’s outlook; they are still likely to finish top three.

If you want to see Ryan Braun’s full, long statement, you can find it on ESPN. I’m not really going to go into the details of it, but basically he said he was sorry and that he used a substance only during the 2011 season. It’s clear that he didn’t do or say enough. It’s been a month since the suspension was handed out, so is this what Braun has been writing since then? It’s long, but it seems like a bunch of half-truths. Braun isn’t yet at A-Rod level, but he’s getting there, and will get there if he continues to be dishonest.

If I were Braun, I would have tried to read this statement in front of reporters (people are generally much more sympathetic when they actually hear these statements), and even tried to answer some questions, because he really brought this upon himself. If he had sat in front of reporters all day and answered questions as honestly as possible, he probably would have been on the long road to mending his reputation. He didn’t do that. Maybe he took a small step forward, but there was room for so much more.

Braun’s statement was incredibly lawyer-ish, and it’s clear that his lawyer(s) played an integral part in writing it. That means that Braun probably won’t get in any more trouble than he already is, but I think the risk (maybe needing to write a check to the urine collector that he threw under the bus?) is much lower than the reward, which would be another step toward a repaired reputation.

Braun said sorry, but he should have done more, by telling as complete a truth as possible and by answering questions, of which there are many.

Coming into training camp, it was assumed that there would be a massive amount of competition for some available starting jobs. In prior years, only one or two spots had really been open (all the other competitions had a clear favorite from the beginning), but this year there were as many as five wide open jobs coming into the preseason. Now, though, we haven’t even reached the all-important third preseason game, and four of those competitions have been seemingly, or officially, ended. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Philadelphia Eagles:
Chip Kelly promised that he would not name a starting QB until after the last preseason game. After the second preseason game, he said he was nowhere close to naming a starter. Well, just days later, he named Michael Vick the starting QB. It was pretty surprising, given what the coach said, and because Nick Foles was also playing well, but after the second game it seemed almost inevitable.

Buffalo Bills:
EJ Manuel was a very controversial first round pick, and went at least a round before everyone thought was right. Well, he looked well on his way to proving everyone wrong; he was 26-33, 199 yards, two touchdowns, one sack, and four rushes for 29 yards in two games. Then he hurt his knee, and had a minor knee operation, and now is questionable to start the season. Still, it looks like it’s a battle against time, and not against Kevin Kolb, who, prior to training camp, was seen as a slight favorite to start the season with the job. Kolb has been mediocre in preseason, though, and it looks like he will be in a backup role, where he really belongs.

Oakland Raiders:
Matt Flynn was always a slight favorite, but it looked like Terrelle Pryor was closing the gap early in training camp. Flynn and Pryor have both had decent camps, but Flynn looks like the more ready starter, and it is obvious that the job is his, although there hasn’t been an official announcement. So Flynn will open the season as the starter, but Pryor is the younger guy and this is a rebuilding team, so he might get some looks later on in the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
This situation is eerily similar to the Bills one. Coming into the preseason, Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne were co-starters on the depth chart. Gabbert, the younger player, outplayed Henne by a long shot, and was named the starting QB after week two of the preseason. And then he got hurt. Gabbert fractured his thumb, and is questionable for week one. Gabbert has played two years in the NFL, and frankly, he’s been terrible. Hopefully he can come back from his injury and excel, but I don’t know if he’s capable. Regardless, this is Gabbert against time more than Gabbert against Henne.

The only situation that has not been resolved is the Jets one:

New York Jets:
This will be a situation where the less-poor (rather than better) QB wins the job. Both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith have been terrible, so this is still an open competition.

So what can we learn from the lack of enticing competition? Maybe just that, most years, we should just look at competitions at other positions, because QB ones are rarely as interesting as, say backup RB or WR ones.

Last year, we can be sure of one thing: there was a lot of added intrigue, because it was the first season with the new second wildcard in each league. If not for the second wildcard, the Braves would have cruised to the wildcard, as they beat out the #2 WC, the Cardinals, by six games. The Cardinals went on to beat the Braves in a one game playoff and then the Nationals in the NLDS. That would not have happened the year before, because St. Louis would not be in the playoffs. In the AL, while successful teams like the Rays and Angels finished out of the playoffs, both Texas and Baltimore were 93 win teams and deserving of the playoffs, and both made it.

This year, though, I think the added wildcard in each league has taken away intrigue, for a few reasons.

Fewer Moves at the Trade Deadline:
This year, there were no blockbusters and very few moves at the trade deadline, and that has a lot to do with the second wild card. Teams like Seattle, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Colorado, San Francisco, and Washington would probably all normally be looking to sell at the trade deadline, as they were the picture of mediocrity; none was more than a game over .500 on July 30th, the day before the deadline. Kansas City was closest to the first wildcard at nine and a half games back, and San Francisco were 16 games back. With the second wildcard in place, though, KC was five games back, and San Fran, with the worst record of anyone I listed, were 11.5 games behind Cincinnati- daunting, but not impossible to come back from. So the addition of the second wildcard turned would-be-sellers into buyers, which left very few sellers, and therefore very few players to be moved at the deadline.

Slightly Above Average Teams in the Race:
Right now, 14 of the 24 teams that do not lead their division are behind Oakland and Cincinnati by double digit games, so there are realistically 10 teams that are in the race for four spots (four in the NL, and six in the AL). On August 19th, 2011 (the last year of the one WC team era), only three teams were within 10 games of first place, and none were closer than seven games away. So this season, there are a lot more good-but-not-great teams within shouting distance of first place. No offense to these teams, but the Yankees, Royals, Diamondbacks, and Nationals really don’t deserve to be anywhere close to the playoffs. Imagine if the Rays and Athletics were fighting for one playoff spot, rather than being three games clear of anyone else in the race. Same goes for the Cardinals and Reds in the NL, except the teams in the hunt are even more mediocre.

NL Central:
As of today, the race for the NL Central title is a dogfight. The Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds are within two and a half games of each other, with the Pirates barely clinging to a one game lead. If this had been 2011, these three teams would not only have been fighting for the division, but also the wildcard. This year, all three are likely already in the playoffs, so all they are fighting for is a chance to get out of playing a division-mate in a one game playoff (granted, that is pretty appealing).

Remember 2011?:
2011 was the last season with one wildcard, and it was a good one. On September 1st, Tampa Bay was eight and a half games out of the wildcard, and so was St. Louis. Both teams would have been slightly ahead for the second wildcard (had there been one). The Red Sox had the second best record in baseball, and the Braves had the fourth best. Then madness ensued, and the Rays and Cardinals went on great runs while the Sox and Braves slumped. September 28th, 2011, was possibly the most exciting day baseball has ever seen, and if that were this year, it wouldn’t have happened. All four teams would have been comfortably in the playoffs, but instead the Braves and Cardinals were tied, as were the Rays and Red Sox. At seven o-clock, the 101-60 Phillies, the best team in baseball, faced off against the 88-73 Braves in Atlanta, hoping to send the Braves home early. At eight, the Astros, the worst team in baseball with well over 100 losses, hosted the Cardinals, who had Chris Carpenter on the mound. The later game ended earlier, with the Cardinals destroying the Astros 8-0. It looked like it was all for naught though, as the Phillies weren’t really trying to win their game (they were getting tuned up for the playoffs) and trailed the Braves 3-1 going into the 7th. Remember, this was the season that the Braves had the amazing 7th-8th-9th combo of Eric O’Flaherty (.98 ERA), Jonny Venters (1.84), and Craig Kimbrel (2.10). But the Phillies rallied to tie it at 3-3, and the games went to extra innings. The Phillies ending up winning the game in the 13th, and the Cardinals celebrated (ironically, the Phillies ended up being upset by the Cardinals in the first round, so the team they could have kept out of the playoffs by losing to the Braves ended up beating them).

The AL was even more hectic, with two games that ended with a walk-off hit. Going into the 8th inning, the Yankees were beating the Rays 7-0, and the Red Sox were beating the Orioles 3-2. Then Jonathan Paplebon, who had blown just two games all season, allowed two runs in the ninth and the Red Sox lost. The Rays scored six runs in the 8th, one in the ninth, and then Evan Longoria hit a walkoff home run in the 12th.

Talking about September 28th, 2011 still makes me shake my head, and none of it would have happened with the second wildcard.

For those reasons, it seems like baseball this season hasn’t been as fun as it has been in the past (maybe that has something to do with the anemic Phillies).

Trout vs. Cabrera (part 2????)

Posted: 08/15/2013 by levcohen in Baseball

It’s really a shame that the two best players in baseball (by far) are both in the American League, because yet again, one of them won’t get the recognition they deserve. I’m talking, of course, about Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Last year, Cabrera won the MVP because he won the triple crown, and because he played on a better team than Trout. However, baseball’s new age, SABR metric community backed Trout, due to the value he added in defense and baserunning- Trout had a WAR (wins above replacement, courtesy of Fangraphs) of 10.0, and Cabrera had a WAR of 6.9. This wasn’t just a simple conversation; it was a battle between classes of baseball, and traditionalism won out.

Let me just start by saying that if Trout lost last year, it is unlikely that he will win this year, even though he has been even better. This is still a fascinating debate, though.

Note: all SABR stats come from fangraphs, and not baseball reference.

Cabrera’s 2012 season vs. his 2013 season:
Last year, Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win the triple crown since Carl Yastremski, and led the Detroit Tigers to the World Series. His traditional stats looked like this: .330 average, 44 homers, 139 RBI. His SABR stats looked like this: 9.5 walk %, 14.1 strikeout %, .277 ISO power (which is just slugging percentage minus batting average), .417 w/OBA (sort of like OPS, but more exact, as it values OBP higher than SLG, as it should), 166 w/RC+ (runs created compared to league average). Those are all great numbers. The reason his WAR was just 6.9, 7th in the MLB, is he cost his team a lot of runs due to poor fielding and base running.

Now check out Cabrera’s traditional stats this year: .360 average, 38 homers, 114 RBI. He might not win the triple crown this year, but that’s just because Chris Davis has had a huge power surge this year. His on-pace numbers look like this: .360 average, 51 homers, 154 RBI. Those are all-time great numbers.
Here are Miggy’s SABR stats this season: BB%- 14, K%- 14.5, .325 ISO, .477 w/OBA, 207 w/RC+. He has a 7.4 WAR, so is on pace to just top the 10 WAR mark. Obviously, Cabrera has been much better this season. He leads the AL in walk percentage, is second in ISO power, and leads the MLB- by far, in weighted OBA and weighted runs created. Cabrera hasn’t been a liability when it comes to running the bases this year, but he has continued to be a huge defensive liability, which is the reason he is still behind Trout in terms of WAR.

Trout’s 2012 season vs. his 2013 season:
Last year, Trout had one of the best seasons for a 20 year old EVER, if not the best. He hit .326 with 30 homers, 83 RBI (mostly out of the leadoff spot), and 49 steals. His 10 WAR was a product of his all around play. He hit well, but he was also a tremendous fielder (second most value added defensively among centerfielders behind Michael Bourn) and base runner (by far the most value added in the MLB, due in large part to his 49 steals versus being caught five times). His SABR stats last season: BB%- 10.5, K- 21.8, .238 ISO, .409 w/OBA, 167 w/RC+. All good stats, but not nearly at Cabrera’s level (again, Trout only finished three wins above Miggy last year because of fielding and base running). Especially worrying was his K/BB ratio, which was nearly 2:1.

Like Cabrera, Trout has been much better this season, in his age 21 season (he turned 22 earlier this month). He’s hitting .330 with 21 homers and 78 RBI, to go along with 27 steals. He’s on pace to hit 28 homers to go along with 115 runs scored, 105 RBI and 36 steals. Those numbers don’t look that much better than last season, but his OPS is 35 points higher this season, mostly because he is walking a lot more and is on pace for 45 doubles and 11 triples (last year he had 27 and eight, respectively). And his SABR stats: BB%- 13.4, K%- 17.1, .243 ISO, .425 w/OBA, 178 w/RC+. So he is striking out meaningfully less and walking meaningfully more, which is a great sign for his future; he has shown the ability to correct any small weaknesses (are there any weaknesses left?) His WAR is 8.0, and is on pace to finish with a WAR at about 11. It could be in the 9-10 range right now, but his fielding hasn’t been quite as good as it was last year.

Now, Enough With the Stats:
All those stats are great, but they only go so far. Which player deserves the MVP? Well last year, I thought Trout should have won (and wrote about it). This year, it isn’t quite so clear. Cabrera has been astronomically better than he was last season, and is having an all-time year. He’s on pace to hit .360 with 51 homers and 154 RBI. The only other players to hit .350 with 50 homers and 150 RBI? Babe Ruth did it twice, and Jimmie Foxx and Hack Wilson did it once. That’s it. He also plays on a division leading team, while Trout’s team is floundering at 12 games under .500.
That’s why I’m giving Cabrera the edge this year, even if he doesn’t win the triple crown (he is six homers behind Chris Davis, who is a streaky hitter, so don’t count Miggy out).

They are both AMAZING:
Cabrera might end up as the best right handed hitter of all time. In fact, ESPN’s Jayson Stark looks into that more here.

Trout looks to have locked up back-to-back 10 WAR seasons, barring a collapse or an injury. Only eight players have EVER done that.

So both of these players are well on their way to being all-time greats. If only they were not in the same league.