Bill posted about Cabrera’s big night last night, and this morning Twitter is dominated by folks noting just how utterly ridiculous Cabrera has been so far this year. And make no mistake, he has been. He’s hitting .387/.457/.659 and leads the AL in runs, hits, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and total bases. Just crazy dominant. Obviously the pace won’t continue, but he’s easily the current leader in the MVP race if you care about such things in May.
But there is one tiny — and believe me, it is tiny — thing bothering me about all this today. It’s this sentiment, which I’ve seen all over the Twitters since the season began, usually spiking after Cabrera has a big game:
Do these people seriously believe that what happens in 2013 justifies assessments made about the 2012 season? How far back does this line of thinking go? Prince Fielder is having a better year than Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Howard. Does that mean he should have finished ahead of them in the 2009 MVP voting? Can someone tell me how this works?
People like to say the statheads are on some crusade and can’t stand it if people don’t agree with them. But I don’t see any statheads still fighting the 2012 MVP debates. And none of them are seriously arguing that Trout has had a better year than Cabrera so far.
If you throw the word “luck” into a sports conversation you’re gonna anger some people because people don’t like to ever chalk up their own success or their team’s success to anything apart from their own skill, worthiness and merit. What we usually refer to as “luck,” however, is not meant to detract from one’s merit. It’s more about outcomes that were not necessarily predictable or expected given all of the known variables.
Thing is, we really don’t have a concise and compact word that captures the notion of “unreasonably underperforming or unreasonably outperforming one’s statistical expectations,” so the word “luck” is about as good as we can do. Sorry if that offends, but focus more on what we’re getting at when we talk about sports luck and less about how you feel about the concept of luck in general, OK?
With that in mind, know that, according to Rob Arthur of FiveThirtyEight, the Cubs have been the unluckiest franchise in baseball history in terms of turning success into championships. Given how much they’ve won over the years, they should have had six or seven championships and not the two they have (with none for 108 years, of course).
The luckiest? The Yankees. While they have obviously been immensely talented throughout their history, the numbers suggest that they should “only” have 19 or 20 World Series titles. They have 27. They’d still have the most if everyone performed at their level of statistical expectations, but their 16-title lead over the next most successful World Series team — the Cardinals — should not be as great as it is.
Kyle Schwarber made a quicker-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery and then, after an Arizona Fall League rehab assignment, was shuttled up to Cleveland for the World Series. But that’s not all he has done.
Schwarber is now the latest ever Best Shape of His Life All-Star. Or so says Kris Bryant, talking to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We’ve seen first-hand the work that he’s putting in and how hard he’s been going . . . Honestly, I saw him out — maybe a couple weeks after his surgery — and he’s moving around, walking. And I’m like: ‘Dang, this guy’s not human. How? I saw your leg bend in half, and you’re walking around. This is unbelievable . . .(It’s) watching him dripping with sweat every single day. Every single day, this guy is drenched. I feel like he’s in the best shape of his life (now). There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it. It was just a matter of if they let him.”
May as well just forfeit now, Indians. No way you can deal with an October BSOHL guy.