MLB

The Twinkie Defense of Miguel Cabrera’s MVP Award

My mother rarely let me have Twinkies. I ate them every once in a while at a birthday party or holiday celebration, but I never gorged myself on them. And you know what? I’m probably a better and healthier person because of that.

Mitch Albom and the rest of the baseball writers who voted for Miguel Cabrera for MVP have eaten too many Twinkies. They voted for the feel-good, gooey, traditional, sentimental candidate in Miguel Cabrera over the all-around valuable Mike Trout. Don’t get me wrong, I love gooey traditionalism, but you shouldn’t fill up on it just like you shouldn’t load your lunch bag up with Twinkies. (I tried multiple times, thanks Mom for stopping me.)

Before I get into baseball, I want to note that I feel so sorry for the thousands of people who lost their jobs due to the mishaps at the Hostess company.

With regards to the Twinkie as a snack, maybe it’s better to let it go. It’s more a pop-culture icon than it is a worthwhile thing to eat. We probably should also leave behind solely relying on “Twinkie” statistics to determine an MVP (BA/HR/RBI). Baseball writers (and fans) have far healthier statistics on their hands.

I’m not going to pontificate why Trout was a much better choice than Cabrera. There are plenty of well-written articles on that issue. Here are a few good examples. Their reasoning boiled down to the fact that Trout added a lot more value in all aspects of the game, as opposed to just Cabrera’s powerful hitting.

Nate Silver sums it up quite well:

The argument on Trout’s behalf isn’t all that complicated: he provided the greater overall contribution to his team. Trout was a much better defensive player than Cabrera, and a much better base runner. And if Cabrera was the superior hitter, it wasn’t by nearly as much as the triple crown statistics might suggest.

A lot of baseball writers used what I’ll call a Twinkie defense to vote for Cabrera. They placed sentimentality and nostalgia over hard, quantifiable measurements.This is from Mitch Albom:

Why not also consider such intangibles as locker-room presence? Teammates love playing around — and around with — Miggy. He helps the room.

I don’t know Cabrera personally, so I don’t what he is like the locker room. But last time I checked, Barry Bonds, who has a pretty well-established reputation for being a jerk, won seven MVP awards.

They also mentioned that he was valuable because he changed from first base to third base without whining to make room for Prince Fielder. Big whop. I fail to see how that’s a better argument than Trout’s far superior base running skills. (He was 49 out of 54 on stolen base attempts.

The defenses for voting for Cabrera were soft and fluffy. Those voters appealed to the romanticism. Mitch Albom summed it up well, “In the end, memories were more powerful than microchips.” These writers are quite fond of trashing the people who are quantifying different aspects of baseball in new statistics. I disagree with that notion. Measurements like Wins Above Replacement are a far better measure of a players worth than just looking at the number of Runs Batted In. Granted, sabermetrics are sometimes difficult to understand, but that doesn’t make them any less valid as measurements of the game.

Sportswriters are threatened by the math geeks trying to take over their game. I say there should unrepentant parsing of ballplayer millionaires. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the nostalgia of baseball. It’s why I write, but you shouldn’t fill up on that and ignore quantifiable measurements. Just like you shouldn’t eat a bunch of Twinkies and ignore your salad.

Sentimentalism runs hard in the snack world as well. People are upset about the demise of Twinkie. It’s the loss of something cherished from their childhood. It’s hard not to be a little saddened by their demise, but take a step back. Twinkies really aren’t all that great for you. They’re an outdated and unhealthy relic. Should people really be snacking on those all the time?

To Mitch Albom and the rest of the BBWA who voted with their hearts on not their heads:

I leave you with a recipe for Kale Chips. They are a delicious snack full of  Iron, Magnesium, Carotenoids, and Flavonoids. They’re a lot better for you than Twinkies and they are quite delicious. You might be scared of the leafy greens and might not understand the benefits of antioxidants, but they’re good for you. Trust me. You should be eating a lot of them.

Please let go of the Twinkies, baseball writers. There are healthier, more fulfilling snacks and stats out there.

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