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Published: Tuesday, 10/2/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Who’s MVP? Crown Miggy

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

A story popped up on the Los Angeles Times Web site midday on Tuesday with a headline that asked this question:

“Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout: Who is more deserving of AL MVP?”

So I will ask this question:

“Are you kidding me?”

Miguel Cabrera is one game away from becoming the 14th player in baseball history to win the Triple Crown. He entered Tuesday night’s game in Kansas City hitting .329 with 44 home runs and a whopping 137 RBIs.

Look, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels has had a remarkable season, one that began in Triple-A and will end with him as the first rookie ever to hit 30-plus home runs with 30-plus stolen bases. He is one of those taking the batting title race down to the wire. His speed and defense affects games in ways that Cabrera does not.

The fact the question is even being asked is a nod to Trout’s great season.

But Cabrera, like Detroit teammate Justin Verlander a year ago, is having one of those seasons for the ages.

And with the Tigers headed for the playoffs and the Angels headed for the offseason, the debate should be short-lived if not already over.

Miguel Cabrera is the American League’s MVP for 2012.

Cabrera won the league batting title a year ago with a .344 average, and if he hangs on this time — Trout and Joe Mauer of the Twins were both still breathing heavily on him entering Tuesday’s action — he’ll become only the third player in history to win back-to-back batting titles while hitting at least 30 homers and driving in at least 100 runs in both seasons.

The previous two to do it were Joe DiMaggio (1939-40) and Ted Williams (1941-42). Yes, they are legends, and yes, it has been awhile.

In four previous seasons with the Tigers, Cabrera has already won each of the Triple Crown categories individually — 37 home runs in 2008, 126 RBIs in 2010, and his .344 average last season.

Now, he’s on the brink of bundling all three.

The names that have done that include Cobb, Hornsby, Foxx, Gehrig, Williams, Mantle, Frank Robinson, and Yastrzemski. You can visit them in Cooperstown.

Cabrera is a decade into a Hall-of-Fame career, as well. He has nine straight seasons with 100-plus RBIs, eight seasons with 30-plus home runs, and seven seasons of .300-plus hitting.

It’s just that few have noticed. He has never played in a major market — can you imagine the attention he would receive if he wore Yankees’ pinstripes? — and often has toiled in the shadows of Albert Pujols, justifiably considered the top offensive force in the game.

Not this season.

Whether Cabrera snags the Triple Crown or not, he deserves the MVP for what has happened since the start of September.

On the morning of Sept. 1, the Tigers were nine games above .500 and trailed Chicago by two games in the AL Central. Cabrera hit 10 home runs and drove in 27 during the month, and when it ended Detroit was 13 games over .500 and owned a three-game lead.

Sure, the season was more of a struggle for the Tigers than many anticipated, but don’t they look like a World Series contender now?

No single player is more responsible for that than Cabrera. Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski called him a “once-in-a-lifetime player,” and Tigers manager Jim Leyland has used similar words.

Considering the last Triple Crown was accomplished 45 years ago, that would make this, for many of us, a once-in-a-lifetime season. There is one game to go. Why not root for it and for Cabrera?

Contact Blade Sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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