During election season, Silver’s blog for the New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, became the g0-to source for those looking for an early inclination of who might win the presidency just by parsing the numbers. As it turned out, Silver’s predictions were extremely accurate, correctly predicting 49 of the 50 states in the presidential election, and 31 out of the 33 senate races this year.
As such, Silver gained a great amount of public notoriety for his accurate predictions, and all he claims he was doing was looking at the available data and using that to guide him. Likewise, Silver uses the same scientific method when looking at the American League MVP race.
Little known to the general public is that Silver is a prominent sabermetrician, and was the primary developer of PECOTA — an algorithm for predicting players’ future performance. When looking at the available data in the MVP race between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, Silver says in his latest blog that Trout should be the winner.
“The argument on Trout’s behalf isn’t all that complicated: he provided the greater overall contribution to his team,” says Silver in his post.
Silver’s argument isn’t much different than any other SABR-based argument you’ve likely seen around the Internet: Cabrera’s totals may be flashy, but Trout provided more overall “value,” and his lack of stats like RBIs was mainly a function of where he hit in the lineup. Essentially, Trout is the better player holistically.
Even Silver admits, however, that Cabrera is likely to actually win the hardware. Either way, we’ll find out on Thursday whether it’s Trout or Cabrera.