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.