Yes, yes, there’s an MVP debate going on involving Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, the concept of WAR, defense, runs batted in, and everything else under the sun. I’m not here to fan those flames. That argument often leads to vitriol and rampant negativity on both sides, and while there’s a time and place for that, we can’t lose sight of the fact that these two athletes both performed at incredible levels over the course of an entire season.
Cabrera smacked 44 home runs on the way to a Triple Crown win, leading the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Cabrera has always been good for the occasional moon shot, and this year was no exception, with a season-best blast off of Hiroki Kuroda that traveled 466 feet. That home run was still 34 feet above the grass when it cleared the deep 420-foot center field fence in Detroit.
Cabrera also came within one foot of the highest home run of the year in terms of sheer altitude. At its peak, the 374-footer was an astonishing 162 feet above the ground. Only Todd Helton hit one higher, and while it reached 163 feet over Cabrera’s 162, Helton’s home run ended up eight feet shorter in its final resting place.
I plotted all 44 of Cabrera’s home run flight paths, as viewed from the side at ground level. Click to enlarge.
We can argue until we’re blue in the face about who deserves the MVP more, but both Trout and Cabrera are extraordinarily adept at the one skill that causes all of us to stop, stare, and crane our heads—launching a baseball with enough force to break windshields in the parking lot.
References & Resources
Technical note: These flight paths are calculated and plotted from data on Greg Rybarczyk’s Hit Tracker Online. Rybarczyk uses flight times and landing spots to plot out a baseball’s imaginary path to the ground, if there were no seats or barriers in the way. These flight paths reflect that extrapolation.