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Green: Sabremetrics leave out the winning factor

Jerry Green
The Detroit News

The oddity of baseball is that the teams play 162 ballgames through six months from March to September so that fourth and fifth-place clubs might engage in combat in a World Series in October.

And then in November, on the glitter of the Major League Network, baseball dishes out the annual awards.

It is a weeklong offering of pomp and circumstance from rookies of the year to managers of the year to the Cy Young winners; then at the climax, to the most valuable players.

Basically, all the award contests were absolutely predictable. And my version of the truth is that only the MVP awards mean much.

This year the MVPs were won by what I would declare retro ballplayers.

Clayton Kershaw, the 21st century version of Sandy Koufax, was the National League's MVP with the Dodgers.

Mike Trout, the 21st Century mixture of Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio, won the American League's MVP award with the Angels. Trout was a unanimous choice after two years of wailing and weeping from the Sabremetrics fiends.

And now these numbers crunchers gloat. Trout has won at last after two years of watching the backside of Miguel Cabrera.

And if you don't believe they gloat, take a look at the website Five Three Eight with its numbers-ingrained copy.

We are now inundated not only by numbers, but also by initials. MVP is old-fashioned. Now we have WAR, OPS, and WHIP. WAR translates into wins above replacement which translates into gobbledygook.

The Sabremetrics fanatics are cheering because Trout finally is the MVP. That award was totally deserved — this past season — because his ballclub finally finished in first place in its division. Not because he led all comers in WAR.

And the magnificent Kershaw, whose regular season started in March in Australia, pitched his ballclub into a first-place finish in its division. Fact is, the Dodgers won the NL West in a romp with the enemy San Francisco Giants panting after them.

Brand new PUP

I now have an offering for the Sabremetrics fanciers.

They should add a category — PUP.

PUP is quite simple. It stands for Performance Under Pressure.

Take our two brand new MVPs for a case example.

Kershaw pitched for the best team in the National League. He made the Dodgers the best team in the league.

Trout played graceful and wondrous center field for the best team in the American League. The Angels had the supreme record in the league because they had the most talented player — Trout.

Some funny things happened before the Giants and Royals battled through seven games in the recent World Series. The Giants were the No. 2 wild-card entrant in their league. The Royals barely were the No. 1 wild card in their league.

That, in essence, made the Giants the No. 5 seed in the National League playoffs. The Royals qualified as a lofty No. 4 seed in the AL playoffs.

In old-fashioned baseball terms, this was a fourth-place team vs. a fifth-place team in what MLB and the Fox sports spielers maintained was a genuine World Series.

Where were the Angels and Dodgers in late October as the Giants and Royals clashed?

Waiting for next year!

Well, consider my new category PUP.

Trout and Kershaw each scored 0 — a fat nothing — in a figure that should astound the Sabremetrics stats shakers.

What was highly publicized in the Los Angeles media as an upcoming Freeway World Series developed a flat tire outside of Anaheim.

Trout — with all his great talent — went 1-for-12 in his postseason debut. The Angels were swept out of the playoffs by the Royals.

Kershaw — with his pitching magnificence — was blown up twice by the Cardinals as the Dodgers were booted from the postseason in their first round.

PUP — Trout zero.

PUP — Kershaw zero.

PUP — Brandon Crawford 10.

Pieces of Silver

Nate Silver — a numbers wizard out of East Lansing — is the inventor of Five Thirty Eight, that kooky website that now collaborates with ESPN. More initials.

Silver really is brainy intelligent — and is magical in predicting the results of national elections. He's not quite so hot in analyzing baseball and occasionally is a bit short on English grammar.

But who's great all the time? Not even MVPs Trout and/or Kershaw.

Silver wrote after the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the World Series that Alex Gordon should have tried to score on the ball he hit to center field.

Reviewing the play, the Giants led the Royals, 3-2, with two outs and Madison Bumgarner, another magnificent left-hander, in command of his third World Series game. Gordon singled sharply to center. Gregor Blanco was caught between steps or something and allowed the ball to bounce beyond him to the wall. There, left fielder Juan Perez reached to retrieve the ball and muffed it away from him.

Finally, Perez relayed the bouncing ball to the cutoff man, Crawford, out beyond shortstop. By then, unseen by Crawford, Gordon reached third base, where he was stopped.

It was Silver's estimate that Gordon might have had a 30 percent chance of scoring if he had continued — thus, tying the score.

By my rudimentary math, that means Gordon would have had a 70-percent chance of being thrown out at home plate. For the final out of the World Series.

There is no logic in having the final out of a World Series thrown out at home. It would have been a cardinal sin.

Bumgarner got the decisive out on the next batter when Salvador Perez fouled out. And the Giants, having won the World Series for the third time in five seasons, were immediately classified as a dynasty.

Even though they were the equivalent of a fifth-place team.

Bumgarner received 100 percent of the plaudits and certainly deserved a perfect 10 in my PUP system.

And as for Crawford, who also earned a 10 in PUP, he was just the relay man who caused Gordon to be halted at third base by Royals coach Mike Jirschele.

Just the relay man. With his back to Gordon and the infield, Crawford short-hopped the relay throw. He made a perfect pick up of a ball twice misplayed in the outfield. An extremely difficult play on which any flub would have resulted in Gordon scoring.

Nobody really realized that Crawford deserved a 10 in Performance Under Pressure for his pick-up of the hot baseball. At least until a few days later on the TV replays of the champagne-spraying aftermath.

Jerry Green is a retired Detroit News sports columnist. Read his web-exclusive columns Saturdays at