TRADITION OVER SABERMETRICS—CABRERA WINS MVP. Dick Weisfelder asked in a comment on October 3: “Cabrera or Trout?” The question has been debated by sports fans and sportswriters over the last 6 weeks and has come to represent the divide between the new statistical approach to the game (“sabermetrics”) and the traditional approach—the same conflict which was portrayed in MONEYBALL, the book and the movie. The emotion that underlies the divide is reflected in this column by veteran sportswriter Mitch Albom (author of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE). Albom expresses the contempt that traditional sports writers have for the newfangled statistics, dismissing them in several vivid phrases: “…Trout excelled in the kind of numbers that a few years ago weren’t even considered, mostly because A) They were impossible to measure, and B) Nobody gave a hoot.” And: “I mean, did you do the math? I didn’t. I like to actually see the sun once in a while.” And: “made-for-Microsoft categories”.

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  1. Nick says:

    What decade are these people stuck in that they think it takes THAT long to type “” into their browser? Is the internet still only the esoteric domain of MIT scientists and the government?

    Most people have access to this information on their phones.

  2. Dick Weisfelder says:

    There is a broader context too that I presume selectors consider. For Cabrera, it’s having lead the league in those categories before. I think moving to another position to benefit the team is also not typical behavior for an established star.

    In any event, I’m amazed by the level of vitriol in this debate. Both had terrific seasons and were deserving. That the choice is so fiercely debated confirms that.

    I usually don’t like the idea of “waiting ones turn,” but after all Trout is rookie of the year and has his whole career ahead of him and Cabrera’s cumulative achievement has been outstanding with the triple crown as the culmination. Statistics are great, but there is more to making a judgment than raw numbers – an element that cuts both ways in this instance.

    Fortunately both players have been very gracious in acknowledging the achievements of the other, a lesson others might respect.

  3. Nick says:

    It just troubles me that swathes of people seem to think that statistics are entirely divorced from the game instead of being a record of what happened on the field.

    You’re right, though – there is far too much outrage/uncivil discourse on the topic.

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