Miggy should clean up as MVP

Over­sized Tigers’ slug­ger un­stop­pable force in AL

SundayXtra - - SPORTS BASEBALL - By Phil Rogers

THANK you, Miguel Cabr­era. You too, Josh Hamil­ton. From some­one who is vot­ing for the Amer­i­can League Most Valu­able Player award, it’s re­ally nice to have an easy choice when you write the first name on the bal­lot — or type it, ac­tu­ally, as the Base­ball Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica has gone to dig­i­tal vot­ing. Who says we are un­able to adapt?

For the sec­ond year in a row, the Tigers’ over­sized third base­man gets the nod over the An­gels’ ul­tra- ath­letic, ul­tra­pro­duc­tive Mike Trout for a fun­da­men­tal rea­son — his team will be play­ing in Oc­to­ber. Trout’s will not, for rea­sons that have a lot more to do with Hamil­ton’s dis­ap­point­ing sea­son and Al­bert Pu­jols’ frag­ile health than any­thing Trout could con­trol.

The Wins Above Re­place­ment stat likes Trout over Cabr­era for the sec­ond year in a row, but to a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers, con­text still mat­ters. At least that’s what the 2012 vote sug­gests. I know con­text mat­ters to me. That would have been just as true if I had been vot­ing in the Na­tional League MVP race, where An­drew McCutchen’s all- around play for a Pi­rates team that ended its 20- year los­ing streak with a bang trumps Paul Gold­schmidt’s su­pe­rior run pro­duc­tion for the also- ran Di­a­mond­backs.

As for Miggy, he would have been the first player to earn the Triple Crown in back- to- back sea­sons if not for Chris Davis’ ridicu­lous first half of the sea­son, which put the Ori­oles slug­ger in po­si­tion to win the home run ti­tle and stay neck and neck with Cabr­era for the RBI crown. Cabr­era has re­placed Pu­jols as the hit­ter pitch­ers most hate to face in big spots, and the big fel­low will be only 30 when the 2014 sea­son be­gins.

For Dave Dom­browski, the Tigers’ gen­eral man­ager, he’s the player ac­qui­si­tion that just keeps on pay­ing and pay­ing, with no end in sight. Here’s a look at the AL MVP bal­lot I will sub­mit and my the­o­ret­i­cal one in the NL:

1. Cabr­era, Tigers; 2. Trout, An­gels; 3. Josh Don­ald­son, A’s; 4. Dustin Pe­droia, Red Sox; 5. Ja­son Kip­nis, In­di­ans; 6. Chris Davis, Ori­oles; 7. Robin­son Cano, Yan­kees; 8. Evan Lon­go­ria, Rays; 9. Manny Machado, Ori­oles; 10. Shane Vic­torino, Red Sox.

1. McCutchen, Pi­rates; 2. Yadier Molina, Car­di­nals; 3. Gold­schmidt, Di­a­mond­backs; 4. Han­ley Ramirez, Dodgers; 5. An­drel­ton Sim­mons, Braves; 6. Matt Car­pen­ter, Car­di­nals; 7. Car­los Gomez, Brewers; 8. Fred­die Free­man, Braves; 9. Joey Votto, Reds; 10. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers. As for the other awards:

Be­fore his loss Sept. 3 at Bos­ton, the Tigers’ Max Scherzer had a le­git­i­mate chance to fin­ish with the best win­ning per­cent­age in his­tory, break­ing the El­roy Face record that had stood since 1959. He would lose back- to- back starts, but who is go­ing to ar­gue against 21- 3?

There are ways that you can ar­gue that White Sox left- han­der Chris Sale out­pitched Scherzer, but it’s tough to make a case that he’s a true equiv­a­lent of Felix Her­nan­dez in 2010, when saber­met­rics car­ried him to a Cy Young af­ter a 13- 12 sea­son. Her­nan­dez not only had sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis on his side, but he threw 2492/ 3 in­nings that year, 12 more than any­one else. Here’s how I line up the bal­lot be­hind Scherzer: 2. Yu Darvish, Rangers; 3. Sale, White Sox; 4. Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners; 5. Clay Buch­holz, Red Sox.

Like the Tigers’ Cabr­era, Clay­ton Ker­shaw makes it easy on vot­ers. This is his third straight year to lead the ma­jors in ERA, a stag­ger­ing achieve­ment for a 25- year- old. He makes it look so easy, but you know it’s not. It can’t be, right? The rest of the bal­lot: 2. Adam Wain­wright, Car­di­nals; 3. Jor­dan Zim­mer­mann, Na­tion­als; 4. Jose Fer­nan­dez, Mar­lins; 5. Matt Har­vey, Mets.

How do you break the tie be­tween Fer­nan­dez and Puig? Ei­ther would be an easy win­ner in many sea­sons, but one is go­ing to have to fin­ish sec­ond. Fer­nan­dez was the more con­sis­tent of the two Cubans, so he gets the call over his elec­tri­fy­ing coun­try­man, as well as Car­di­nals slug­ger Matt Adams and a strong crop of rookie pitch­ers. Here’s my bal­lot af­ter Fer­nan­dez: 2. Puig, Dodgers; 3. Hyun- jin Ryu, Dodgers.

This crop is al­most as strong at the top as the NL’s, with Wil My­ers suf­fer­ing only be­cause the Rays waited so long to pro­mote him. Jose Igle­sias was a life­saver for two fran­chises this sea­son. He was an of­fen­sive force out of the gate for the Red Sox, fill­ing in for Will Mid­dle­brooks at third base, and then be­came the glue guy for the Tigers af­ter Dom­browski re­al­ized he was go­ing to lose Jhonny Per­alta to a Bio­gen­e­sis sus­pen­sion. But the Rays don’t re­cover from a 24- 24 start with­out My­ers. He gets the call. 2. Igle­sias, Tigers; 3. Dan Straily, A’s.

Clint Hur­dle’s op­ti­mism turned around the Pi­rates, who over­came dis­as­trous sec­ond halves in 2011 and ’ 12 to go the dis­tance and reach the play­offs this time around. Their run dif­fer­en­tial wasn’t close to those of the Car­di­nals and Reds, but they hung with them all sea­son, a trib­ute to Hur­dle’s abil­ity to put the play­ers around McCutchen into the right spots. The run­ners- up: 2. Mike Ma­theny, Car­di­nals; Don Mat­tingly, Dodgers.

It’s tempt­ing to re­ward Terry Fran­cona for do­ing an amaz­ing job with the In­di­ans, but he ac­tu­ally took over a more pos­i­tive sit­u­a­tion — thanks to off- sea­son ac­qui­si­tions — than did John Far­rell in Bos­ton. The Red Sox ob­vi­ously have a ton of tal­ent, but give Far­rell credit for steady­ing the ship af­ter the tu­mul­tuous 2012 sea­son un­der Bobby Valen­tine and Fran­cona’s ugly exit the year be­fore. I’m go­ing with Far­rell, but there would be noth­ing wrong with Fran­cona win­ning. My run­ners- up: 2. Fran­cona; 3. Joe Gi­rardi, Yan­kees.

— Chicago Tri­bune


Miguel Cabr­era was al­most the first player to win back- to- back Triple Crowns.

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