SEATTLE -- Mike Trout was asked recently what he knew about Wins Above Replacement, the all-encompassing sabermetric stat that has thrust him into the middle of a heated MVP debate with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.
The Angels' 21-year-old center fielder laughed.
"That's a good question," Trout said, smiling. "Not a lot. Just heard it for the first time this year."
Trout's WAR heading into Wednesday's regular-season finale stood at 10.7, way ahead of the second-place Robinson Cano (7.6). And while it isn't necessarily WAR that makes Trout a popular choice for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award -- more so his overall production at the plate, coupled with his defense and baserunning -- it's that stat has made the discussion between him and Cabrera seem like a clash between old- and new-school ways of thinking.
"It is pretty crazy, all the statistics nowadays that can add up to being one and comparing me to other," Trout said. "I had no idea [about WAR] until somebody started talking about it, and I caught onto it a little bit."
Is Cabrera more valuable to the Tigers, who won their division despite winning less games than the Angels, with an AL-leading .331 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs?
Or is it Trout, who has produced from the leadoff spot -- with a .324 batting average and 30 homers -- while bringing fantastic defense to center field and wreaking havoc on the basepaths, stealing 49 bases and scoring 129 runs?
"It comes down to just two different kind of players, that's what it strictly comes down to," said Angels starter C.J. Wilson, who, of course, sides with Trout. "You have a guy that mashes, and then you have a guy that's a spark. And it depends on what your value of metrics is, whether you'd like to take the guy who's a Gold Glove defender, and the base-stealer, and the run-scorer, or the guy who drives in runs and is the more solid middle-of-the-lineup guy."