Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera

If it’s the Most Valuable Player, shouldn’t salary matter?


Miguel Cabrera will be named the American League Most Valuable Player again next week. There’s a good chance it will be unanimous, and if not, it will be pretty darn close. Yet, factoring in defense and baserunning, it’s very easy to come away with the idea that Mike Trout was the better player. Of course, many of those voting for the award believe that “best” and “most valuable” are not  synonymous.

So, let’s run with that idea — that the best player and the most valuable player aren’t necessarily one and the same — for a minute. I mean, I can go along with it, to an extent. If this other-worldly player was a derisive force in the clubhouse — say he was one of those guys drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse between DH at-bats — you could ding him. Or maybe if an outstanding player was credited with giving his teammate a tip that made him better… well, that would add to his value without affecting his WAR.

But how about money? It’s pretty much indisputable that the guy hitting 30 homers making $500,000 is helping his team more than the guy hitting 30 homers while earning $20 million (let’s give them the same WAR, too). But it seems completely verboten to discuss money in MVP talks. Certainly, I’ve never seen a voter bring up a guy’s salary in defending his vote.

I think that’s silly. If we’re going with the idea that it’s the Most Valuable Player and not the Best Player, then money absolutely should factor in. I imagine there are a couple holdout major league general managers who would still rate Cabrera as a better player than Trout, but even they wouldn’t actually trade Trout for Cabrera given the difference in salaries. No sane person would. Cabrera made $21 million last season. Trout earned $510,000. Why, if the Angels had to pay $21 million for Trout last year, they probably wouldn’t have been able to sign Josh Hamilton! Where would they be right now without him?

OK, bad example. It doesn’t destroy the point.

Personally, I’m in the Best Player camp, so I don’t care what kind of cash they’re making. But for those arguing that valuable means something different entirely (RBIs and good teammates, mostly) and that no stat could ever truly encompass it, well, salary needs to be factored into that value component, too.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.