Triple Crown Or Not: Miggy Is MVP

An article by posted on October 3, 2012

This will be totally off topic, but we’re Mets fans because we’re baseball fans right? I find this year’s individual awards to be the most fascinating year I can remember.

The AL Cy Young is probably between David Price, Justin Verlander and perhaps Fernando Rodney.

The NL Cy Young has 5-7 legitimate candidates as I detailed yesterday.

The NL MVP is likely going to Buster Posey, but the AL MVP… that’s still in doubt?

This discussion really bothers me.

With the AL MVP race wrapping up today, I can’t help but wonder what the discussion would be if Miguel Cabrera’s name was Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton?

Look, I respect the heck out of what Mike Trout accomplished this season. He looks to be the next generation of superstar in a sport that desperately needed one.

I can appreciate that since he joined the teams, the lights went on in Los Angeles. At the end of the day though, it wasn’t enough.

The Playoff Race

One key part to Cabrera’s candidacy I think people fail to discuss is the fact that Detroit didn’t coast through to the playoffs.

Everybody likes to mention how the Angels “turned it around” once Trout came up. Yet, they fail to mention that when Detroit needed Cabrera the most, he was there.

On June 30th for example, Detroit found themselves 2 games UNDER .500, while the Angels were 43-35.

At the end of July, the Angels still had a wildcard lead, and Detroit was beginning to climb the standings – still on the outside looking in.

On August 30th, the Angels slipped to 3 games out of the playoff race, while Detroit was 4 games out.

The Tigers grinded out a tough September, and today with game 162 on the docket – Detroit will finish the year at minimum 3 games ahead in their division, and the Angels will watch them on television in October.

2nd Half > 1st Half

When their teams needed them the most, Cabrera came through for his team in the 2nd half more so than Trout did.

We always talk about the need for big performances late in the season. If both players are truly the most valuable, then their late season performances would have helped propel their respective teams to the playoffs.

Mike Trout in August: .284 average, .366 on base, .500 slugging, 7HR, 19RBI

Miguel Cabrera in August: .357 average, .429 on base, .663 slugging, 8HR, 24RBI

Mike Trout in September: .279 average, .389 on base, .486 slugging, 5HR, 9RBI

Miguel Cabrera in September: .339 average, .402 on base, .688 slugging, 11HR, 30RBI

Cabrera had his best months when the team was clawing their way into the playoff race down the stretch. Trout had his best months just in time to be named an All-Star.

If He Gets The Triple Crown?

I keep hearing this statement: “If Cabrera wins the Triple Crown then he wins the MVP.”

To me, that is a load of bologna. So let me get this straight, if Josh Hamilton hits 2 HR today in a huge game for Texas – that eliminates the value Cabrera had to his team in 2012?

Since 1967, there have been very few players to approach the Triple Crown late into the season.

Willie McCovey – 1969: .320, 45HR, 126 RBI

Dick Allen – 1972: .308, 37HR, 113 RBI

George Foster – 1977: .320, 52HR, 149 RBI

Jim Rice – 1978: .320, 46HR, 139 RBI

Mike Schmidt – 1981: .316, 31HR, 91 RBI (strike shortened)

Gary Sheffield – 1992 .330, 33HR, 100 RBI

Albert Belle – 1994: .357, 36HR, 101 RBI (strike shortened)

Frank Thomas – 1994: .353, 38HR, 101 RBI (strike shortened)

Larry Walker – 1997: .366, 49HR, 130 RBI

Barry Bonds – 2002: .370, 46HR, 110 RBI

Albert Pujols – 2003: .359, 43HR, 124 RBI

Albert Pujols – 2009: .327, 47HR, 135 RBI

The only ones to NOT win the MVP were: Gary Sheffield, Albert Belle, and Albert Pujols in 2003.

Sheffield finished 3rd behind a budding superstar in Barry Bonds – Sheffield’s team finished 82-80 that year.

Albert Belle finished 3rd behind Frank Thomas who was going for the Triple Crown as well as Ken Griffey Jr.

Albert Pujols in 2003 finished 2nd behind Barry Bonds who finished the year with a .529 on base percentage, and undoubtedly being the most feared hitter in the game.

The Resume

Forget about the Triple Crown for just a second. Look at where they rank in the sport, not just the AL.

Cabrera ranks 2nd in Runs Scored, Trout ranks 1st

Cabrera ranks 2nd in Hits, Trout is tied for 18th

Cabrera ranks 14th in Doubles, Trout is tied for 100th

Cabrera ranks 1st in HR, Trout is tied for 22nd

Cabrera ranks 1st in RBI, Trout is tied for 47th

Cabrera ranks tied for 189th in steals, Trout is 1st

Cabrera ranks 3rd in Batting Average, Trout is 5th

Cabrera ranks 6th in On Base Percentage, Trout is 5th

Cabrera ranks 1st in Slugging, Trout is 4th

Cabrera ranks 3rd in Intentional Walks, Trout ranks 81st

So where Trout beats Cabrera is: Fielding, Steals, and a few percentage points in OBP? That makes him more valuable?

The Triple Crown

I don’t know if it’s just the generation today, the steroid era, emphasis on sabermetrics, or people don’t like Cabrera but I remember in 1997 Larry Walker’s race for the Triple Crown being a very big deal.

If Cabrera accomplishes this feat, he will have beaten out an entire league in 3 stats that have been treasured in the sport. Forget about your views of OBP v. AVG for a second, winning a batting title is a nice accomplishment – but to do it while also being the most effective power hitter in the game is ridiculous in today’s game.

When Yaz won the Triple Crown, the batting average and RBI crown was not in doubt heading into the final days. All he had to do was win the HR crown which he ended up tied with Harmon Killebrew at 44. Yaz was in a heated pennant race, and what makes his Triple Crown most impressive is that in a race for the pennant he hit .417, .504 on base, .760 slugging, 9HR, 26 RBI in September. Proving to not only be a great hitter, but proving to be valuable as well.

Yaz recently said at a celebration in Boston that when he was in the race for the Crown, it wasn’t even talked about. Why? Because everybody’s focus was the pennant.

In an article written by Fox Sports Detroit’s Steve Kornacki, Yaz said ”But in ’67, the Triple Crown wasn’t even mentioned once. We were so involved in the pennant race, I didn’t know I won the Triple Crown until the next day when we read it in the paper.”

Don’t forget, Frank Robinson won it the year prior which took a little shine off the accomplishment.

I respect the heck out of players from the past, but today’s athlete is bigger, stronger, and more dynamic. To win the Triple Crown in today’s game is much harder than it was in the past solely based on the talent around the league both on the mound and at the plate.

The Vote

I hope Miguel Cabrera finishes 162 games as the Triple Crown Winner because he’s been one of the greatest hitters of this generation and he constantly gets overlooked because of his off the field problems in my opinion.

If he doesn’t win it, I hope writers don’t look for excuses to award it to a kid who had a very nice season, but when his team needed him the most – he wasn’t there like Cabrera was.

Whether Cabrera wins the Triple Crown or not he is the AL MVP.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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