Friday, September 21, 2012

Win Probability Added: The Case for Trout as MVP

Who has put their team in a better situation to win, Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout?  Well, one way to answer that question is with Win Probability Added (WPA).  Every time a batter bats, there’s a win expectancy.  For example, a team that’s leading 10-0 in the 9th inning has a higher win expectancy than a team leading 6-5 in the 5th inning.  After a batter bats, that win expectancy changes.  If the batter hits a 3-run HR in the 6-5 game to make it 8-6, the batter has greatly changed the game and gets a high +WPA while if he hits a HR in the 10-0 game, it really is, in a sense, “meaningless.”  Add every situation up, and we get that player’s WPA for the season.  It really puts things into context instead of neutralizing everything as if it were the same situation as raw stats show.  It doesn’t show who the most talented player is, just who changed the game the most (and isn’t that what most people consider as “value?”  Who was more valuable to their team?).

You can read more about WPA here, here, here and here.

For 2012 (source FanGraphs):
Mike Trout: 5.32 WPA
Miguel Cabrera: 4.43 WPA

FanGraphs has also provided us a game log to show exactly which situations each Cabrera and Trout have affected the most.  For Cabrera, his 2-run HR in the 9th inning on May 27th to put the Tigers on top 4-3 against the Twins was his highest WPA at +.605.  For Trout, his single on August 28th in the 9th inning to tie the game 5-5 against the Red Sox was his highest WPA at +.510.

To say that Miguel Cabrera has put the Tigers in better position to win than Mike Trout has for the Angels, in this case, is inaccurate.

And we haven’t even talked about defense yet.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Tigers Aren't Hitting Enough Home Runs

It seems weird to hear when Miguel Cabrera is 4th in the league with 36 HR, 3 away from a career best, and is also in serious contention for the Triple Crown.  However, the Tigers haven’t gotten as much home run production from the supporting cast as many had predicted and it is showing.  Sure, Prince Fielder has been great in his first year in the AL and even though his 25 HR would be the lowest of his career since becoming a full-time player, no one can fault his .306/.405/.515 batting line; he has done his job.  Austin Jackson has also found his HR swing and has hit a career high 14 HR and counting; doing what many have predicted for him.  Delmon Young, as inconsistent as he may be, has also hit about as many HR as many had predicted, 17 so far and could very well reach 20 by the end of the year.

No, the problem has come from the core of Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn who have hit a combined 32 HR so far this year, down from a combined 70 HR a year ago.
All in total, the Tigers have hit a combined 141 HR so far this year, 10th out of 14 teams in the American League, the lowest total of any team still in contention, 2 fewer than the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Tigers are currently 4th in the AL in OPS at .758, however they are 7th in R/G, right at league average at 4.45.

The lack of HR power isn’t just limited to certain situations.  With runners in scoring position, the Tigers are currently tied with the Rangers and White Sox with the best AVG at .281 and tied with the Rangers for the best OBP at .362.  However, they are 10th in the AL home runs with 29.


Ok, so most of their HR have been solo shots, currently at 86.  But this number ranks 9th in the American League.

Bases Empty:

Recently, the Tigers have been losing a lot of 1-run games.  One theory is that the Tigers can’t manufacture runs.  Which could be true,  there are more than one way to score runs and utilizing small ball is certainly one way.   Hitting home runs is another way to score runs too, and the Tigers as a whole are not doing well in this category.