What does the Les Milgram Award tell us about Miguel Cabrera?

Ed Zurga

In Kansas City, the baseball writers have named Billy Butler as Royals Player of the Year for the third time in four seasons. Does this bode well for Miguel Cabrera's MVP chances?

I have a suggestion for Nate Silver: When you're building your Proprietary Most Valuable Player Award Prediction Model, a) give it a catchier name than that, and b) incorporate the results of the individual team awards, which are always announced before the league MVPs.

Case in point: I think the news out of Kansas City this morning tells us something about the American League's MVP Award, which will be revealed next week. In Kansas City, the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America has given the 2012 Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year Award to ... Billy Butler.

Which might seem perfectly defensible, considering Butler played in 161 games, was the Royals' best hitter, and led the club with 29 homers and 107 RBI.

Perfectly defensible, if one utterly ignores defense and baserunning.

Butler mostly DH'd (no defensive value), and scored 72 runs while driving in those 107. He's one of the slowest every-day players in the majors.

Alex Gordon played left field, won the Gold Glove, and deserved to win the Gold Glove. He drove in only 72 runs, but scored 93. He's not a great baserunner, but he's solid.

When you consider everything -- hitting, fielding, and running -- Gordon pretty obviously was the better player. He really falls short in just one area: clutch hitting, where Butler did have the edge this year. If the voters were considering that, which pushed Butler past Gordon by a nose ... Well, I applaud the voters for looking past the Triple Crown stats.

But I suspect that Butler won his award on the strength, almost purely, of those Triple Crown stats. And I suspect that Miguel Cabrera will do exactly the same.

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