Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Miguel Cabrera and the Sabermetric Triple Crown

Miguel Cabrera has people talking about his potential traditional Triple Crown this season. We’ve been running our version of the Sabermetric Triple Crown — on-base percentage, total bases and runs created — for several years, and though others — most recently the reputable Dan Szymborski¬†– have their own implementations, we still think that ours honors the spirit of both counting and rate stats of the original Triple Crown. So without further ado, here’s how each league stacks up:

Since Cabrera represents the American League, we’ll start with the junior circuit. First, the OBP leaders:

Rk Name Team OBP
1 Joe Mauer Twins .414
2 Prince Fielder Tigers .410
3 Mike Trout Angels .393
4 Miguel Cabrera Tigers .391
5 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays .386
6 David Murphy Rangers .383
7 Austin Jackson Tigers .382
8 Ben Zobrist Rays .375
9 Billy Butler Royals .372
9 Shin-Soo Choo Indians .372

Cabrera is within shooting range, but he’s got three people ahead of him. Let’s turn to total bases:

Rk Name Team TB
1 Miguel Cabrera Tigers 362
2 Adrian Beltre Rangers 325
3 Adam Jones Orioles 324
4 Robinson Cano Yankees 316
5 Josh Hamilton Rangers 314
6 Albert Pujols Angels 306
7 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays 302
7 Billy Butler Royals 302
9 Alex Rios White Sox 300
10 Prince Fielder Tigers 292
10 Mike Trout Angels 292

Cabrera has this one pretty well locked up, and Joe Mauer and Prince Fielder aren’t close, though Fielder is in the top 10. At this point we should also pay a passing mention to Albert Pujols on reaching 300 total bases for the 12th consecutive year of his career, a much more worthy accomplishment than the silly 100-RBI streak. Finally, runs created (we’ll use weighted RC from Fangraphs):

Rk Name Team wRC
1 Miguel Cabrera Tigers 131
2 Prince Fielder Tigers 119
2 Mike Trout Angels 119
4 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays 116
5 Robinson Cano Yankees 111
7 Adrian Beltre Rangers 106
7 Josh Hamilton Rangers 106
7 Billy Butler Royals 106
9 Adam Jones Orioles 105
10 Josh Willingham Twins 102

Two out of three isn’t bad, but it appears that the AL will not have a Sabermetric Triple Crown to bestow, on Miguel Cabrera or anyone else. Be that as it may, if we were to rank the player with the overall best average across all three categories (i.e., Rotisserie style), Cabrera is tops:

Rk Name Team OBP TB wRC r-OBP r-TB r-wRC Avg Rk
1 Miguel Cabrera Tigers .391 362 131 4 1 1 2.0
2 Prince Fielder Tigers .410 292 119 2 10 2 4.7
3 Mike Trout Angels .393 292 119 3 10 2 5.0
4 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays .386 302 116 5 7 4 5.3
5 Robinson Cano Yankees .369 316 111 13 4 5 7.3
6 Billy Butler Royals .372 302 106 9 7 6 7.3
7 Adrian Beltre Rangers .355 325 106 19 2 6 9.0
8 Josh Hamilton Rangers .357 314 106 18 5 6 9.7
9 Derek Jeter Yankees .365 283 100 15 12 12 13.0
10 Joe Mauer Twins .414 239 101 1 28 11 13.3

Now for the senior circuit. OBP:

Rk Name Team OBP
1 Buster Posey Giants .405
2 Andrew McCutchen Pirates .403
3 Miguel Montero Diamondbacks .394
4 Ryan Braun Brewers .392
4 David Wright Mets .392
6 Melky Cabrera Giants .390
7 Dexter Fowler Rockies .389
8 Yadier Molina Cardinals .377
8 Matt Holliday Cardinals .377
10 David Freese Cardinals .373

Buster Posey, a frequently mentioned candidate for MVP has a slight lead. More interestingly to Cardinal fans is the fact that the team has three players in the top 10 (and Allen Craig isn’t far behind). Next is total bases:

Rk Name Team TB
1 Ryan Braun Brewers 347
2 Andrew McCutchen Pirates 320
3 Aaron Hill Diamondbacks 298
4 Aramis Ramirez Brewers 296
5 Matt Holliday Cardinals 292
6 Jay Bruce Reds 285
7 Chase Headley Padres 283
8 David Wright Mets 281
9 Adam LaRoche Nationals 279
10 Buster Posey Giants 277
10 Corey Hart Brewers 277

McCutchen, who ranks second in OBP, is unfortunately more of a distant second in the TB race. Finally, runs created:

Rk Name Team wRC
1 Ryan Braun Brewers 130
2 Andrew McCutchen Pirates 121
3 Matt Holliday Cardinals 109
4 Buster Posey Giants 108
5 Chase Headley Padres 107
6 David Wright Mets 105
7 Aaron Hill Diamondbacks 102
7 Aramis Ramirez Brewers 102
9 Martin Prado Braves 96
10 Carlos Gonzalez Rockies 95

It’s Braun and McCutchen, 1-2 again. So no Triple Crowners in the NL, not unless McCutchen goes on a tear over his next six games like fellow Pirate Dale Long did from May 19-25, 1956 (32 total bases in six games).

As for the overall average ranks, it’s a tie between — you guessed it — Braun and McCutchen:

Rk Name Team wRC TB OBP r-OBP r-TB r-wRC Avg Rk
1 Ryan Braun Brewers 130 347 .392 4 1 1 2.0
1 Andrew McCutchen Pirates 121 320 .403 2 2 2 2.0
3 Buster Posey Giants 108 277 .405 1 10 4 5.0
4 Matt Holliday Cardinals 109 292 .377 8 5 3 5.3
5 David Wright Mets 105 281 .392 4 8 6 6.0
6 Chase Headley Padres 107 283 .371 11 7 5 7.7
7 Aaron Hill Diamondbacks 102 298 .358 16 3 7 8.7
8 Aramis Ramirez Brewers 102 296 .357 17 4 7 9.3
9 Carlos Gonzalez Rockies 95 264 .371 11 19 10 13.3
10 Martin Prado Braves 96 266 .361 15 17 9 13.7
11 Yadier Molina Cardinals 91 247 .377 8 26 13 15.7

Notably, the otherwise unheralded Matt Holliday (who came oh-so-close to winning the crown in 2007) is fourth in the NL, recalling the high finishes of Pujols in years past. And yes, we did extend the leader board to 11 (we’re Spinal Tap fans) to include another Cardinal, Yadier Molina, who is having, as Dave Cameron calls it today, “a Johnny Bench season” for his work on both sides of the ball.

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