Keith Law: “Miguel Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team”

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Keith Law is still catching hell from Cardinals fans over his 2009 Cy Young Award ballot which they (erroneously) believe screwed Adam Wainwright and/or Chris Carpenter out of the Cy Young Award. That’s not his problem. He’s wrongfully accused of hating every team’s fans at some time or another, but Keith votes his mind and his conscience on such things. And given that he and the rest of the old Baseball Prospectus folks made their bones by going against the often-faulty conventional wisdom, it’s not at all surprising that his take on such matters pisses people off.

Well, it’s gonna happen again. This time with Detroit fans who really, really love their Miguel Cabrera. Here’s Keith:

“One of the most popular questions I’ve gotten recently is whether Miguel Cabrera will win the AL MVP award. I don’t presume to know what the voters will do, but I know that as it stands right now, he shouldn’t appear in the top three spots on any ballot.

“Cabrera’s offensive performance has been solid, but he’s a major negative on defense at third base, so a player like Cano, a good defender at a position (second base) where offensive levels are lower, is more valuable overall even though Cabrera has slightly higher raw rate stats.

“Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team, behind Verlander and Jackson, the latter of whom has completely transformed himself at the plate this year and is a plus defender in center.”

I see his argument. I don’t have much intelligent to say about it one way or the other apart from the fact that, if you don’t look too deeply into defense, you’re never going to agree with Keith here given Cabrera’s offensive production, but I do see what he’s saying. He’s not trying to hate here because I know Keith a little bit and he doesn’t hate on anyone like people claim he does.

But, yeah, I do not think that these comments — which are now being repeated in the Detroit Free Press — are going to endear him to Tigers fans.

The most interesting question — the answer to which I don’t think Keith will ever tell us — is whether, motivated by it or not, Keith actually kinda likes it when the mob goes after him. I’ll admit that I kinda like it. It can be a lot of fun. I could be wrong, but I sort of picture Keith cackling at this a bit.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.