Gregg Zaun sometimes says controversial and unpopular things when discussion the Toronto Blue Jays. It's part of the gig, one could argue. To incite the fans into a frenzy, get them talking, and drive viewership and social media traffic.
What he said Tuesday night following the Blue Jays 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies may have gone above and beyond even that.
Discussing the MVP race between Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout in the post-game segment following a two Homerun game by Donaldson Zaun would say that not only is Trout the better player, partly attributing playing a premium position for a reason why, but also suggesting that Donaldson has no chance at winning the MVP so long as Trout stayed healthy.
You can probably guess how well Twitter took those comments...
@GreggZaun please stop talking— Ryan Howe (@ryanhow9) August 19, 2015
Shut up @GreggZaun. Stop trying to be Don cherry— Joe hunter (@huntz19) August 19, 2015
...Those were the clean ones...
Now, was Zaun being serious? I don't know. He seems to love the 'Hot Takes' and constantly says things in an attempt to rile up the base. Not unlike a Steve Simmons, Glenn Healy, or Don Cherry. And for what he is, he is fantastic at it.
Moreover, he seems to find himself on contradicting sides of the argument.
JD doesn't just hit dingers, he pimps them, too. #MVP— Gregg Zaun (@GreggZaun) August 19, 2015
I suppose the only way to look at Zaun's comments is to look at them fairly and at face value. Surely we've all seen more ridiculous claims made than this. And hey, it may not even be ridiculous, depending on your Point of View (I mean, it sort of is, but who am I to tell you what to think?... Oh... The writer, that's right).
Zaun claims that both old-school stats and the "saber-geek" stats (as he calls it) show that Trout is having a better statistical year and that there is "no denying it". But, do they? Do the stats, both old and new, prove his point beyond, apparently, a shadow of doubt? Geez, if only there was a way to verify his theory!
Oh! Right, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference are a thing on the internet. How silly of me. I'll use those!
And perhaps just a subtle amount of sarcasm.
Here are the numbers as they stand right now.
Donaldson's WAR: According to Fangraphs, 6.7. 6.7 bWAR
Trout's WAR: According to Fangraphs, 6.7. 7.1 bWAR
Triple Slash for Donaldson: .296/.365/.575 (wRC+ 157)
Triple Slash for Trout: .294/.391/.586 (wRC+ 171)
Production Numbers for Donaldson: 33 HR's, 89 runs scored, 91 RBI's in 118 games.
Production Numbers for Trout: 33 HR's, 79 runs and 71 RBI's in 116 games.
Extra Numbers for Donaldson: 9.4 BB%, 19.5 K%, .279 ISO
Extra Numbers for Trout: 12.2 BB%, 23.2 K%, .292 ISO
The MLB Rankings: Donaldson and Trout tied for 4th in HR's and 2nd in WAR. Donaldson leads the league in RBI's, Trout sits 18th. Donaldson also leads the league in Runs while Trout is 5th. Trout, on the other hand, is 3rd in the league in wRC+ while Donaldson comes in at 7th. Trout ranks 4th in OPS while Donaldson is in 7th, respectively.
Defensively we can't compare them against one another as their positions are vastly different and require an entirely different skill set to be successful at. But, we can compare them against others at their position to see where they rank.
For the season, Trout sits 11th amongst Centre Fielders in UZR (1.9) and 9th in DRS (5). Meanwhile, Donaldson is 3rd in UZR (7.3) and 4th in DRS (9) compared against his fellow Third Basemen.
Based on this I ask you all a question; Is average defence at a premium position worth that much more than elite defence at another position? I don't have an answer for that, honestly.
At the end, I can't see how Mike Trout has so clearly pulled away from Josh Donaldson that, with six weeks remaining in the season, the competition is closed and a winner has already been decided. Especially when one appears to be on the verge of taking his team to the playoffs while the other is struggling to keep their team ahead of the pack in the 2nd Wildcard spot.
But, again, you may see something differently.
Yes, this is a non-story. There is no drama here. Not really. Just a footnote in a long season which, if all goes well, has more important things ahead for the team than an MVP race.
Still, by taking such a hard line stance on the subject Gregg Zaun has turned a non-story (the MVP race in August) and made it newsworthy and something people will likely take more seriously in the days and weeks to come.
Which is sort of his job. Don't hate the player, hate the game. Zaun, for all his faults, is pretty good at making people rage quit whatever they were doing and instead spend copious amounts of time talking about it online.
What do you think? Is Zaun right that the MVP race is a foregone conclusion? Has Mike Trout, prodigiously talented as he is, locked up an MVP award in mid-August?
Oh, and JOSH DONALDSON IS A BLUE JAY!