Heading into the final day of the MLB season, Detroit Tiger slugger Miguel Cabrera is on the verge of becoming the first man to win the Triple Crown since 1967. Will it be enough for him to ultimately take home AL MVP honours, over Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
Edmonton - October 3, 2012 - In a baseball season that has featured one surprise after another, none would come close to matching the achievement that Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is on the verge of accomplishing. Heading into the final day of the regualr season, Cabrera is only hours away from becoming the first MLB player to win the Triple Crown, since Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, did it in 1967.
It has been forty-five long years since any man has come close to matching Yaz and yet, there is no guarantee the Tigers third baseman will even take home the American League Most Valuable Player award. That honour could very well end up going to Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout.
Some have tried to downplay Cabrera's achievement, saying his numbers are "nothing special"...all I can say to those people, is shame on you. Has the steroid era really effected people that much? When exactly did a .331 BA, 44 HR, 139 RBI season become "nothing special"? They may not pop out at you like say 73 HR do but if you compare it to Yastrzemski's 1967 season, .326 BA, 44 HR, 121 RBI, they sure look eerily similar.
Granted, the Red Sox great produced those numbers during what was arguably the greatest pitching era in modern history but that in no way shape or form, takes away from what Cabrera is on the verge of doing. He has obviously benefited greatly from the addition of Prince Fielder into Detroit's lineup but no player can accomplish such a feat, without some sort of protection behind him. The former Florida Marlins standout had been walked a combined 197 times, during the 2010 and 2011 campaigns, but has received only sixty-six free passes during 2012. Safe to say, Fielder's presence has clearly been felt.
His on base percentage of .394 is top ten in all of baseball and he sits second in the league with 109 runs scored and his 205 hits, trail only Derek Jeter's major league leading total of 215. All the while, the Tiger slugger has played a starring role in leading Detroit to a come from behind run to claim the AL Central crown.
To categorize the year Mike Trout has put together, in his first full season in the bigs, as anything other than phenomenal, would be doing the twenty-one year old an injustice. Trout's combination of speed and power, hitting out of the leadoff spot, is reminiscent of the Rickey Henderson/Tim Raines days of the 1980's and the kid plays gold glove caliber defence to boot. Toss in his Pete Rose-like mentality, of being willing to do almost anything to win a ball game and you have the makings of a pretty special player...who has put together a rather special season.
Trout leads the majors, by a wide margin, with 129 runs scored and despite having a tendency to strikeout far too often, 139 times to be exact, he still sits third in the AL with an impressive .397 on base percentage. The Angles table-setter, needs one stolen base in his final regular season game to reach 50, also a major league leading number, and in Raines-esque fashion, has been caught only four times on the entire season. His .324 batting average is second only to Cabrera in the junior circuit and his 30 HR and 83 RBI totals, hitting leadoff, speak for themselves.
In short, Mike Trout has been the best all around player in the game of baseball during the 2012 season. However, that doesn't necessarily make him the most valuable player.
Compelling arguments can easily be made for either side. While Detroit won their division, Los Angeles will finish third in the West, despite having a better record than the Tigers. That being said, at the end of the day, winning games does, and frankly should, play a role in who ultimately gets an MVP award. While a strong argument could have been made in the days of having only the two division winners qualify for post season play, that is no longer the case with the wild card system. Regardless of what division a player plays in, finishing first is what it's all about. Advantage Cabrera.
Bringing me to the tipping point...the Triple Crown. Personally, ever since I was a kid, I have always gravitated to players like Trout. My favourite player growing up was Tim Raines and I have always held guys who can hurt the opposition in many different ways, in high regard. Trout falls into that category but what Cabrera is about to accomplish is something so special, that it simply cannot be overlooked.
Think back over the last forty-five years and how many great players have played the game of baseball. Many have rewrote the record books and ultimately found their way into Cooperstown over the past four and half decades and yet, not one of them, was able to accomplish what Cabrera is about to do. That has to be worth something...doesn't it?
Winning a Triple Crown in this day and age, would put Miguel Cabrera's season in some pretty elite company and one that has to have a Most Valuable Player Award attached to the end of it.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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