Miguel Cabrera Wins The American League MVP Award For The Second Year In A Row
Miguel Cabrera didn’t win a second consecutive Triple Crown, but that’s about all that changed as the Detroit Tigers third baseman repeated as American League Most Valuable Player.
Just like in 2012, Cabrera prevailed in the ongoing debate over defining the award and over Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
Cabrera received 23 of the 30 first-place ballots in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Trout received five first-placed votes.
Last year, Cabrera had 22 first-place votes to Trout’s six and a 362-281 advantage in points (the number of votes increased this year to 30 – two per AL city – with the Houston Astros moving from the National League).
Cabrera becomes the first back-to-back winner in the AL since Frank Thomas in 1993-94. The most recent consecutive winner in either league was St. Louis’ Albert Pujols in 2008-09.
Cabrera actually had a better offensive season than a year ago – his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all were higher and he led the AL in all three categories for the second consecutive season – despite being hampered by back, hip and groin problems much of the second half of the season.
He only hit one home run in his final 25 games yet still matched his 2012 home run total of 44, but finished second to Baltimore’s Chris Davis (53) this time. Cabrera’s 137 RBI were two short of his 2012 total and one behind Davis’s league-leading 138 this year.
Davis finished third.
But the ongoing Cabrera-Trout duel goes beyond their performances and into the often clashing views of measuring performance by traditional statistics vs. via sabermetrics. And the bottom line in the results just might be how voters define the award.
For the second year in a row, Trout led Cabrera in Wins Above Replacement, the sabermetric formula designed to include all aspects of the game, including defense and baserunning. Trout’s edge over Cabrera was 9.2-7.2 And Trout even led just the offensive portion of WAR, 10.0-9.0 over Cabrera.
Trout led the AL in walks and runs and was third in batting, second in on-base and fourth in slugging.
But, as it was in 2012, Cabrera’s Tigers won the Central Division while Trout’s Angels were never a factor in the AL West race, the added element that often blurs the lines between best player and “most valuable.”
Included in the instructions to voters is, “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team.”
The questions aren’t likely to go away any time soon but at league Cabrera will have a couple of trophies to stare at if he contemplates the issue.