The Case of Betts vs Trout

The bailiff announces the next case: “Betts vs. Trout.  The attorney for Mr. Betts shall be heard.”

Betts’ attorney stood.  “Your Honor, we come before you today to prove that Mookie Betts in the best player in baseball.  Now, my distinguished colleague is going to use terms like WAR and Wins Shares to show their client is better.   There is more to baseball than a mathematical equation, and those intangibles are what makes Mookie Betts the best player in baseball,” the attorney sat.

Trout’s attorney rose. “It doesn’t surprise me that my fellow attorney would like to dismiss all statistics in baseball because it is those very statistics that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mike Trout is the best player in baseball.  Does my opponent want to eliminate math in baseball completely? Shall we not count runs? Pay no attention to wins and losses? Hits or outs? Baseball is built on numbers.   As the sport has grown so has our ability to measure success through math.  Every major statistical category proves that Mr. Trout is baseball best player.”

“We do not argue that Mr. Trout has great statistics,” Betts’ representative replied.  Our case is that those statistics are meaningless when the player who is reaching that level has only played in three meaningful games in eight years and during those games got one hit in twelve at-bats.”

Trout’s lawyer stood so abruptly it caused his chair to fly back into the bar.  “Your honor! Firstly, this gentleman claims that he is not going to use statistics and then he tries to enter into evidence the only negative numbers my client has produced; secondly we cannot blame the Angels’ lack of success on our client, and thirdly Mr. Betts, in his seven playoff games, has only hit .269 and not knocked in a single run.  Those are not the statistics of the games’ best player.”

“We are not just discussing playoff games,” Betts’ attorney argued.  “Trout’s Angel teams, with one exception, have either not been in the playoff race, or fallen short down the stretch. A great player carries his team into the playoff.  Mr. Betts has led his team to the playoffs in four of seven seasons.”

“Lead his team?” Trout’s attorney scoffed.  “I guess Mr. Ortiz had nothing to do with the Sox going to the Series in 2013.  Like all Betts supporters, his representatives are grossly exaggerating his accomplishments.”

“Our point,” the agitated Betts’ attorney said, “is that Mr. Betts has played in three more pennant races than Trout has in his long career.  He has faced, and succeeded in far more pressure situations than Mr. Trout, who has produced his numbers playing out the string.”

Mr. Trout’s attorney was on his feet again.  “We will not have our client disparaged because of mistakes made by management.”

“Mr. Trout’s salary is 33 million dollars a year,” Betts representative shot back.  “The highest paid player in baseball should be able to lift his team into contention, but Mr. Trout has not done so since he signed the contract.  Mr. Betts makes one third that amount and gets his team into the postseason.”

“Salary has nothing to do with performance.”

“Of course it does,” Betts’ lawyer said.  “If David Price and his millions of dollars a year contract fails he is criticized more than if Nathan Eovaldi fails because Price is paid more.   Trout is paid more than Betts to get his team into the postseason. He has failed.”

“His organization has failed.”

“Mike Trout is a mansion,” Betts lawyers agreed.  “Maybe the finest home in the land. But it is in a ghetto, so it has no value.  Betts’ mansion may not be the same quality as Trout, but his house is in a gated community, and the better commodity.”

“It that what players are to you?” Trout’s lawyer asked.  “Just commodities?”

“Of course they are,” Betts’ representative answered  “That is all they are to management. And there is no valuable commodity in baseball than Mookie Betts.  His salary gave the Red Sox the cap space to sign JD Martinez. The Angels could not do that because of Trout’s contract.   Betts’ production is close to or equal to Trout’s at one third the price giving the Sox the ability to improve themselves. He is under team control at a lower amount for three years. Would anyone trade Mookie Betts, three years of control and a lesser contract for two years of Mike Trout at 33 million a year?  That makes Mookie Betts the better commodity. Since the only true commodity teams have is its players, it makes him the better player.”

“Poppycock!” Trout’s lawyer shouted.  “You do not measure talent by contract or by team record, you judge it by  the numbers which prove Mike Trout is a better player.”

“The true measure of a player is his worth to a team.  Mookie Betts may be a shade less of a player than Mike Trout, but the Red Sox have him at a third of the price, under control for longer, and he is a proven hitter in pressure situations.  That makes Betts the best in the game.”

The judge had listened to all the testimony and was ready to render a verdict when “Loco Enamorado” by J. Balvin Ft. Farruko began playing, and the bailiff shouted, “My God, that’s Jose Altuve’s music.”

The judge set aside his verdict and prepared to listen to more testimony.



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