Tag Archives: Miguel Cabrera

MLB Award Predictions

The MLB regular season is less than a week from its conclusion and the races for the various awards are even closer than than that of the final playoff spots. With such a close competition between these top players, a strong last few games from any of them could put them ahead in the final stretch. Here’s a look at how the awards might pan out.

Nice shirt Miguel. Sadly, you’d probably be the best player on the Pistons. But Mike Trout is still better than you.

AL MVP: Mike Trout

The decision between Trout and Miguel Cabrera is the toughest one on this list. Cabrera is a currently a home run away from the Triple Crown and has bigger numbers in the power categories. Yet Trout’s all-around impact on the game, from his hitting to his base stealing to his incredible robbed home runs give him the edge here. And for a leadoff hitter, 29 homers and 78 RBI are pretty darn impressive power numbers.

NL MVP: Buster Posey

This race was close for a while, with Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen in the mix, but Posey has pulled away over the last month. Braun still has had an impressive season, leading the NL in home runs and RBI, yet the Brewers are unlikely to make the playoffs, which hurts Braun’s chances. Posey, meanwhile, is leading the majors in batting average (excluding Melky Cabrera of course) and on base percentage, and is also in the top three in slugging percentage and on base percentage. And he’s done all this while playing the most grueling position in the game.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander

As boring as it is to have a repeat winner, there’s no way around the fact that Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball right now. He had another great season, leading the league in strikeouts and being among the leaders in WHIP and ERA while also pitching the most innings.

NL Cy Young: R.A. Dickey

At age 37, Dickey’s success this season is fairly amazing. He’s pitched the best year of his career, mastering the art of the knuckleball while leading the league in strikeouts (as of now) and amongst the leaders in ERA, WHIP, and wins. Clayton Kershaw, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Cain could all give Dickey some competition in this award.

Trout’s rookie campaign has been nothing short of spectacular.

AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout

This is far and away the easiest decision of the bunch. Mike Trout’s rookie season has been one of the best in history. His arrival in the league was overshadowed by that of Bryce Harper, but all that attention has shifted to him since then. Yoenis Cespedes also had a nice year, but for a player touted for his power, Trout out-homered him.

NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier

Frazier played in 41 games last year, but in his first full season this year he was a major reason for Cincinnati’s success. While Harper had more hype and attention throughout the season, Frazier simply did more, putting up bigger numbers than Harper and doing so in less at bats.

AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter

Looking at Baltimore’s lineup, it comes as a bit of a shock how successful they have been. After finishing with the fourth worst record in the MLB a year ago, the Orioles now hold the seventh best. Despite their shortcomings as a team, Showalter has shown them how to win and they’ve learned well.

NL Manager of the Year: Ozzie Guillen

Just kidding. Dusty Baker gets the nod here. Baker did another great job with the Reds this year. Cincinnati clinched an NL Central division with two worthy competitors in the Brewers and Cardinals and currently have a 10 game lead in the division. And to do this while missing key players Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick missing significant time with injuries.

Buster Posey has shown that if you strike him down, he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

AL Comeback Player of the Year: Adam Dunn

Dunn was arguably the worst player in the league last year, hitting an abysmal .159 and just 11 home runs. He’s marginally better in batting average this year (up to .207), but his power numbers are back. He’s blasted 41 home runs, driven in 94 runs and his ability to take walks (he leads the AL with 104) has given him a respectable OBP which is pretty impressive given how terrible his batting average is.

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Buster Posey

Another obvious choice. Posey’s injury last season looked like it could be career threatening, or at the very least put his ability to play catcher in jeopardy. Instead, Posey returned better than ever, catching one of the league’s best pitching staffs while also handling the brunt of the offensive workload for the Giants. An incredible season for Posey.

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Miguel Cabrera Sets His Sights on the Triple Crown

1967 was an interesting time for America—the Rolling Stones made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? was the talk of cinema fans everywhere and Super Bowl I ended with a 35-10 victory for the Green Bay Packers over the Kansas City Chiefs.

It was also the last MLB season in which all three categories of the American League batting Triple Crown (batting average, home runs and runs batted in) were won by the same individual.

45 years ago, Hall of Fame inductee Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox dominated his American League competition, finishing with a .326 batting average, 44 homers and 121 runs batted in.

The Tigers slugger is closing in on a feat that has not been accomplished since 1967.

2012 provides baseball fans everywhere with yet another opportunity to witness a feat more rare than a perfect game.

With yet another home run in the fourth inning of the Detroit Tigers’ Saturday afternoon game against the Minnesota Twins, Miguel Cabrera moved into a tie for a league-leading 42 four-baggers, giving him at least a share of the AL lead in batting average (.332), homers (42) and RBI (131).

Since 1878, there have been 23 perfect games but only 15 Triple Crowns (to only 13 different players) won in Major League Baseball.

The Triple Crown was won twice by both Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams, but both thrived in eras (1920’s for Hornsby, 1950’s for Williams) in which opposing pitchers and potential competition for batting titles were not as muscular, physically fit or well-versed in film study.

The Detroit Tigers third baseman has quietly found himself knocking on the door of history, however.  Rookie phenom Mike Trout of the Angels received a great deal of attention when he had an AL-leading .350-plus batting average in late July and Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was setting an unprecedented home run pace during the first two months of the season with 21 homers as of May 29.

Hamilton put up Home Run Derby-like totals for the first two months of the 2012 season.

Though Hamilton currently sits at an impressive 42 home runs and Trout should be a unanimous AL Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove choice, the two have cooled in later months, Trout due to the fact that he is a rookie who is not used to a 162-game schedule and Hamilton because he’s, well…human.

After a somewhat slow start, Cabrera has been wielding a hot bat of late, hitting .357 over the last two months.

Detroit has 12 games remaining on its schedule, and it’s certain that Cabrera won’t be spending those final matchups thinking about the Triple Crown but instead about the heated division race his team now finds itself in.

As of Saturday night, the Tigers (80-70) trailed the Chicago White Sox by .5 games in the AL Central.  The two teams will not play head-to-head in the season’s final two weeks, but intra-division matchups with the Royals and Twins will make for an interesting sprint to the finish.

For these last 12 games, much of the Tigers’ success will depend directly on the personal offensive success of Cabrera.

Though it won’t be his primary focus, contending for a Triple Crown is nothing to be taken lightly.

Considering the company Cabrera would join and the length of time the Crown has been without a home (nearly half a century), Tigers box scores will certainly be worth peeking at in the coming days.

 

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AL MVP: Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera

The AL MVP race is suiting up to be sports’ tightest MVP race this year. It is a two-man race between the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera.

Mike Trout, the 21-year-old rookie phenom, has been a key figure in the Angels’ turnaround. Before calling up Trout, the Angels were a disappointing 6-14. Since Trout’s arrival, the team is 75-54, a winning percentage good enough for the first wild card in the AL.

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Only two rookies have won the MVP award: Ichiro (2001), and Fred Lynn (1975). Will Trout join this elite class?

Trout is batting .327, second in the American league, with 27 HR and 77 RBI. Aside from being one of the game’s best hitters, he has game-changing speed and gold-glove defense in Center Field.

Trout has an AL-leading 46 steals, while only having been caught four times. Also, 63% of the time, he has taken the extra base on a hit. (advancing two bases on a hit, three bases on a double) That track-like speed has propelled Trout to the top of the runs scored category in the AL with 118, 18 ahead of the next closest player even though he missed the first 20 games of the season.

Defensively, Trout has been no stranger to Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems or SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. He has taken away a league-leading four home runs this year.

Perhaps the most telling statistic of Trout’s case is his WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which calculates the total number of wins that any player adds to his team over the course of a season. Trout is the AL-leader in WAR with 10.3, while the next-closest player only has 6.6.

On the other side of the AL MVP argument is baseball’s best hitter this season, Miguel Cabrera.

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Hard to believe the Marlins traded Cabrera to the Tigers in 2007 because they didn’t want to pay him. Dear Miami: He’s worth it.

Cabrera is making a strong push for baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967. He leads the AL in hitting (.333), RBIs (130) and is second in HR with 41, one behind league-leader Josh Hamiliton.

The Triple Crown is leading the league in batting average, HR, and RBIs in the same season and is one of baseball’s great statistical achievements. Because of more teams, more players and a higher development of those players, a Triple Crown in this age could be baseball’s greatest statistical achievement in one season ever.

If Cabrera does accomplish the rare feat, it will hard to deny him the hardware in a sport where statistics have the final say.

His other statistics are also MVP-worthy: first in slugging (.612), second in hits (189) and runs scored (100) and third in WAR (6.3).

While both candidates’ teams are in the playoff hunt, neither team would be in the playoffs if the regular season ended today. The Angels are 3.5 games back of the Oakland A’s for the second wild card spot. Meanwhile, the Tigers are 2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

Whosever team makes the playoffs will probably win the MVP award. If neither the Angels nor the Tigers make the playoffs, this could be an MVP race that comes down to a handful of votes.

Regardless, either candidate is fully deserving of the award.

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The Importance of Walk-Up Songs

Hitting against major league pitching has often been deemed the single most difficult task in all of sports.

When you think about it, even the physics of the situation are terrifying.   A five-ounce sphere made of cork, rubber, leather and yarn is hurled at speeds that would render a reckless driving ticket by large individuals with wrist sizes that could snap a Livestrong bracelet in no time.

As a coping mechanism, MLB hitters are left with the walk-up song as a means to either help them relax or amp them up for this potentially traumatic experience.

Walk-up songs are the ultimate form of expression—a ten second sample for tens of thousands of a player’s most devoted fans to hear.  It’s a pretty amazing thing knowing one song can make even more of an impact than John Cusack with a trench coat and a boombox.

That having been said, here are some notable walk-up songs from players around the league:

Derek Jeter, New York Yankees: “Stop the Party” by Busta Rhymes

Jeter has always come out to hip-hop songs, even paying homage to Brooklyn’s own Notorious B.I.G. a couple of seasons ago when his song was “Juicy.”  A friendly player who is extremely dangerous at the plate with 3,163 career hits, Jeter’s baseball demeanor fits well with the line “I don’t want to hurt nobody but s*** that’s what it’s coming to.”

Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: “I Spend It” by 2 Chainz

Currently in the first year of an 8-year, 160 million dollar contract and nursing an injury, it would make sense if Matt Kemp is “spending it.”  Widely considered to be an MVP snub last season after batting .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI, there’s no man more deserving of a life of “riding around and gettin’ it” than Kemp.

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Kemp had reason to be angry after last season, losing the MVP vote to Ryan Braun, who later tested positive for steroids.

Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays: “Down and Out” by Tantric

In only his fifth MLB season, the three-time All Star and Tampa Bay Rays third baseman is anything but “down and out.”  Batting a robust .329 on the young season, the Trop-dwelling former Rookie of the Year is making it clear, “I don’t need no understanding…I don’t need to change a damn thing.”

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: “N***** In Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West

Aside from his offseason DUI arrest in Florida this year, Cabrera is “balling so hard” this season that he can’t be fined.  Charting 70 hits and 44 RBI already and hitting middle of a dangerous Tigers lineup that now includes Prince Fielder, pitchers everywhere should be worried now that they let Miguel get into his zone.

Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners: Various

Now in his 12th season with the Mariners, the Japanese-born outfielder is putting together a career that will likely render him the first Asian-born player to be enshrined in Cooperstown.  Throughout his brief journey to nearly 2,500 hits, Ichiro has bumped everything from the Super Mario Brothers theme song to 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”  With an approach at the plate that says, “If you watch how I move, you’ll mistake me for a player or pimp,” he has had pitchers off balance ever since his arrival in Seattle.

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Tulo learned the hard way that you DON’T MESS WITH THE BIEBS!

Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies: “Levels” by Avicii

“Oh, sometimes, I get a good feeling, yeah.”  Quite the opposite, actually.  Coming off a season in which he finished with an impressive .302/30/105 stat line while walking up to Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” Tulowitzki foolishly strayed from the Canadian superstar’s hit song in favor of “Levels,” and is now nursing a groin injury.  At the time of the injury, an angry Bieber must’ve been saying, “I thought you’d always be mine, mine.”

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