September 15, 2010

Cabrera Victim of Circumstance in MVP Race

Who are we kidding? Miguel Cabrera is not winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
CabreraHead.jpg
And it’s not because of anything he has or hasn’t done.

In any other year Cabrera’s story of redemption would be a much bigger story. It’s just that this year Josh Hamilton‘s road to redemption will likely be more appealing top voters given the obstacles he’s overcome and the fact he’s playing on what’s assuredly a playoff team.

Hamilton, who’s still nursing sore ribs after running into an outfield wall in Minnesota on Sept. 5, has eye-popping stats: a major-league best .361 average, 31 home runs, 97 RBI and a 1.049 OPS.

Tigers Often Fall Short of MVP

Of course, this isn’t the first time a Tigers player has been the victim of the voters’ love affair with players on winning teams.

In 2007, Magglio Ordonez lost out to Alex Rodriguez, and in 1990 and ’91, Cecil Fielder lost out to Rickey Henderson and Cal Ripken, respectively.

The most egregious example of the a Tigers player falling short of the MVP award was in 1987 when Alan Trammell did everything right: hit for average, hit for power, played clutch baseball down the stretch and led his team to a division title.

But it still wasn’t enough.

Toronto’s George Bell — who went 1 for 11 against the Tigers in a division-deciding, final-weekend series — won the award. (You can read the post from 2007 in which I wrote about this, here.)

Cabrera, as we know, is putting together a year for the ages himself: .333 average, 34 homers, 116 RBI and a 1.052 OPS.

Consider this, though: Cabrera has 30 intentional walks this season, the most in the majors. Hamilton? Five.

What would Cabrera’s stats look like if he’d had the protection of Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and a more consistent Brennan Boesch all season long? Would it be enough to tack 30 points on Cabrera’s average? Doubt it.

Still, Hamilton has the protection of guys like Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler. That has to account for something … maybe a lot.

The big difference between these guys is one number: 9.

That’s the number of wins the Rangers have over the Tigers at the start of play today. Which means that even though writers cast their votes for awards before the postseason begins, Hamilton will be playing in October and whereas Cabrera will not.

Miguel Cabrera can mount a challenge to Hamilton over the next three weeks but it likely won’t change the minds of voters who see Hamilton’s stats, triumphant personal story and winning team as irresistible.

I hope I’m wrong.

What do you think?

3 Comment(s)

  1. Lee Panas | Sep 15, 2010 | Reply

    Another big difference is the parks. Hamilton plays in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the majors and his lopsided home/road split reflects that. I think Cabrera has had the better offensive season, but that Hamilton contributes more defensively. I think it’s still pretty close and I think the vote will be close. If Hamilton continues to miss games down the stretch, that’s going to help Cabrera a bit.

    Lee

  2. Ron | Sep 15, 2010 | Reply

    Add to the list of Tigers players falling short of an MVP Award,
    To this day as Al Kaline’s “Biggest fan outside of Michigan”, I would say to add in Kaline’s 1955 (1st in Batting, 2nd in WAR, 2nd in OBP, Slugging, and OPS, 1st in hits, 2nd in runs scored, 1st in Total Bases, 4th in Homeruns, and 5th in RBI), and 1963 seasons when he finished 2nd in the MVP vote to yankee catchers Yogi Berra and Elston Howard respectively.
    At least the Sporting News got it correct naming Al the American League Player of the Year.

    Cabrera still has a shot imo, but will need to win at least the RBI title, and finish top 3 in B.A. and Homeruns. and as Lee pointed out, it would help Cabrera, but really create alot of anger with baseball fans, not just Tigers fans, if Hamilton continues to not play (last game Sept. 4th),and still win the award

    It is frustrating as a Tigers and Detroit teams fan, as we see the no-calls, blown calls, and seemingly bad calls at key times in games. It is enough to understandingly give some Detroit fans a complex.

  3. Carolyn | Sep 15, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s same Hamilton doesn’t play for the rest of the regular season. It he is awarded the MVP, they would be giving it to a guy who had a very average April and May, and no September. Does 3 great months = MVP consideration? I’m not so sure. Cabrera, meanwhile, has been mashing all season. He’s clearly been the more consistently dominant player in the majors. If the Tigers were headed to the playoffs, he’d be the unanimous choice.
    No matter what happens, it’s been an absolute pleasure watching Miggy this season. I think he has finally established himself in Pujols territory.

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