Despite not winning the Triple Crown for a second straight year, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera had in some ways a more impressive season.
It seemed that Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voters agreed.
For the second straight year, Cabrera, 30, won the American League MVP Award, beating out sabermetrics sweetheart Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
Cabrera took 23 of 30 first-place votes. On the other seven ballots, he received second-place votes for a total of 385 points to Trout’s 282. Baltimore’s Chris Davis was third with 232 points. Oakland’s Josh Donaldson was fourth with 222 points.
Cabrera actually got one more first-place vote than he did in 2012.
Cabrera won the AL batting title again with a .348 average. He also led the AL in on-base percentage at .442, slugging percentage at .636, OPS at 1.078, and average with runners in scoring position at .397. He finished second in the AL with 44 home runs, 137 RBIs and 353 total bases.
Cabrera is the only player in history to win back-to-back MVPs and batting titles. He joins Mickey Mantle (1956-57) to win back-to-back MVPs one year after winning the Triple Crown.
In Cabrera’s Triple Crown year of 2012, he hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.
But what the numbers don’t reveal is what Cabrera went through to get there.
Before the All-Star break, Cabrera was bothered by a back/hip flexor injury. Yet he won Player of the Month honors in August by hitting .356 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs.
Cabrera’s injuries woes only got worse as the season went on. An abdominal strain plagued him and then he strained his groin, which hobbled him extensively and required sports hernia surgery after the season.
“This one is very special because of the injuries,” Cabrera said on a conference call. “I put up better numbers with less games. They’re both special but it was more tough.”
Although many had predicted that Cabrera would win again, he wasn’t so sure.
“I didn’t think I was gonna win MVP anyway,” Cabrera said. “There was a lot of competition. Trout and Davis, they had great years and deserved to win MVP. The last month, it was tough with the two injuries. It was tough to perform the way I did the five months before.”
Cabrera is the 17th player to win the award in back-to-back seasons, seventh American League player to do so and second Tiger to accomplish the feat.
Hal Newhouser won the award in 1944 and 1945.
It also marked the third straight season a Tiger has won AL MVP as Justin Verlander won in 2011.
The last player to win back-to-back MVPs was Chicago’s Frank Thomas in 1993-94.
Max Scherzer, who won the AL Cy Young Wednesday, finished 12th with 25 points, getting one third-place vote, two sixth-place votes, one eighth-place vote, one ninth-place vote and two 10th-place votes. Torii Hunter received one ninth-place vote.
Points are awarded for 10 places, 14 for first, nine for second, eight for third, seven for fourth, six for fifth, five for sixth, four for seventh, three for eighth, two for ninth and one for 10th.
Cabrera said he sent Scherzer a congratulatory text message for winning the Cy Young.
“This is something special for me and Max, for Detroit and the Tigers,” Cabrera said. “We didn’t win the World Series this year but we do something special.”
Cabrera said he was relieved to not have to face Scherzer, Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello.
“I’m glad,” Cabrera said. “I’m on the perfect team! I’m on the right team. Hopefully next year try to win the World Series for Detroit.”
As for Cabrera’s health and next season, fans can rest easy.
“I’m doing rehab right now,” Cabrera said. “I’m doing great. I feel much better. I’m going to be ready for spring training the first day, be ready to do anything.”