Cabrera, Posey take home MVP awards
NEW YORK — Miguel Cabrera has a Most Valuable Player award to go with his Triple Crown. And Buster Posey has an MVP prize to put alongside his second World Series ring.
The pair of batting champions won baseball’s top individual honours Thursday by large margins.
Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, won the AL MVP by receiving 22 of 28 first-place votes and 362 points from a panel of Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The Detroit third baseman easily beat Los Angeles Angels rookie centre fielder Mike Trout, who had six firsts and 281 points.
Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs to become the first Triple Crown winner since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Cabrera also led the league with a .606 slugging percentage for the AL champion Tigers.
Some of the more sabermetric-focused fans supported Trout, who hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, and he led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals and topped all players in WAR — Wins Above Replacement. Trout won AL Rookie of the Year earlier in the week.
“I was a little concerned. I thought the new thing about computer stuff, I thought Trout’s going to win because they put his numbers over me,” Cabrera said. “I was like relax. ... if he wins, it’s going to be fair because he had a great season.”
His victory is a win for the traditional statistics.
“At the end of the game, it’s going to be the same baseball played back in the day,” Cabrera said.
Posey, at a charity event at his mother’s school in Leesburg, Va., followed the AL debate and Googled to find out the winner.
“I think it intrigued everybody,” he said. “As a fan of the game, it was a fun race to watch.”
With three fewer hits or two less homers, Cabrera would have fallen short of the Triple Crown. The last four Triple Crown winners have been voted MVP, including Mickey Mantle in 1956 and Frank Robinson in 1966.
“I think winning the Triple Crown had a lot to do with me winning this honour,” he said.
Cabrera became the second straight Detroit player voted MVP, following pitcher Justin Verlander in 2011, and was the first Venezuelan to earn the honour. Countryman Pablo Sandoval took home World Series MVP honours last month.
Before the season, Cabrera switched from first base to third to make way for Prince Fielder, who signed with Detroit as a free agent.
“I focused too much in spring training about defence, defence, defence,” Cabrera said. “I forgot a little bit about hitting, about getting in the cage like I normally do.”
In spring training, Posey’s focus was just to get back on the field. His 2011 season was cut short by a collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins on May 25 that resulted in a fractured bone in Posey’s lower left leg and three torn ankle ligaments.
Posey not only returned, he became the first catcher in 70 years to win the NL batting title and helped San Francisco win its second World Series championship in three seasons.
“I definitely have a deeper appreciation for being able to play baseball,” he said. “I’ve seen that it can be taken away quick.”
The first catcher in four decades to win the NL award, Posey got 27 of 32 firsts and 422 points to outdistance 2011 winner Ryan Braun of Milwaukee, who was second with 285 points.
Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen (245) was third, followed by St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina (241).
Posey, a boyish-looking 25, was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year as the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. This year he set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBIs as San Francisco won again.
Posey took the NL batting title after teammate Melky Cabrera requested a rules change that disqualified him. Cabrera, who hit .346, missed the final 45 games of the regular-season while serving a suspension for a positive testosterone test and would have won the batting crown if the rule hadn’t been changed.
Ernie Lombardi had been the previous catcher to capture the NL batting championship, in 1942.
“I think anybody that has caught before understands the grind of catching, not only the physical, the nicks, the wear and tear of squatting for nine innings night in, day out, but just the mental grind of working a pitching staff,” Posey said. “It’s demanding.”
NOTES: In his first season with the Angels, Albert Pujols didn’t finish among the top 10 for the first time in his career. While with St. Louis, he won three times, was second four times and also finished third, fourth, fifth and ninth.