MLB changing scenes


This week, when the San Francisco Giants won their second World Series in three years, they polished off one of the most impressive postseason campaigns in recent memory.

For me, a Bostonian, the 2004 Red Sox comeback against the Yankees and subsequent first World Series victory in 86 years will always be the greatest postseason ever, but 2012 has to be a close second. 

The Giants reaching the World Series seemed improbable if not impossible through most of the playoffs, as they were down two games to none in the divisional series against the Cincinnati Reds, and down three games to one against St. Louis in the NLCS.

Only a handful of teams have climbed out of such a hole, and San Francisco did just that, making it six straight wins when facing elimination. 

On the other side of the World Series, the Detroit Tigers had baseball’s best pitcher, Justin Verlander, and Miguel Cabrera, who won the first batting Triple Crown since 1967. And yet the Giants swept the Tigers four games to none, winning game four on a walk-off hit in the 10th inning. 

The Giants won not on the back of a superstar, but with major additions by role players – none more so then Marco Scutaro, who had the series winning hit. Rotund third baseman and crowd favorite Pablo Sandoval put his name in a class with Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, slugging three home runs in a World Series game and earning himself World Series Most Valuable Player. 

Through the whole series and beyond though, the highlight has to be Miguel Cabrera and his winning of the first Triple Crown in 45 years. When Cabrera finished atop the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in, he accomplished a rare feat many thought never again would be done. 

The problem is that even that may not be enough to win him the American League’s Most Valuable Player. With more advanced metrics becoming popular in baseball, the simple combination of average, home runs, and runs batted in is not thought to accurately evaluate the importance of a player anymore. Statistics like value over replacement player, VORP, and defensive runs saved, DRS, are now scrutinized to gauge a player’s value. 

Enter Mike Trout, rookie outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels. Trout will without a doubt win the American League’s Rookie of the Year, putting together one of the greatest rookie seasons ever. 

Cabrera is the classic MLB slugger and is paid as such – $21 million. Trout is a 21-year-old speedster making less than $500,000 per year, and causes many of those new sabermetric categories.

Who ultimately walks away with the AL’s Most Valuable Player will say a lot about the future of baseball. I believe Cabrera in the end will win, but regardless, this marks a changing of the guard so to speak. Trout and other young players entering the league are faster and more balanced players.

With the steroids era finally behind baseball, such players represent a bright future for MLB. Players make too much money and pitchers will still take too long between pitches, but I can’t wait for spring training in February to start all over again in 2013.