Cabrera 1st to win award in 45 years

Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera tips his hat to the crowd after coming out of the game in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera made history Oct. 4, by earning the Triple Crown award. He is the first player in 45 years to win the award, which is given to the player who leads his league in the following three categories: batting average, home runs and runs batted in.

Cabrera finished the season with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 runs batted in. The race was tight leading up to the end of the year, with Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout nipping at Cabrera’s heels.

Trout finished the season with a .326 average this year. A rookie sensation, Trout impressed many with his fast start. He was called up April 28 and finished the year with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs.
Hamilton finished the year with 43 home runs. He spent some time on the disabled list earlier this year with a wrist injury but struggled down the stretch, going six for his last 22.

Former Tiger outfielder Curtis Granderson also made a late push for the home run title, hitting two on the final day of the regular season. He also finished the season with 43.

Hamilton was second in RBIs this year. He finished the season with 128. Behind him was outfielder Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays and outfielder Josh Willingham of the Minnesota Twins: Both finished the year with 110.

Cabrera joins elite company with his Triple Crown. The last five winners of the award were Carl Yastrzemski (OF-BOS) in 1967, Frank Robinson (OF-BAL) in 1966, Mickey Mantle (OF-NYY) in 1956 and Ted Williams (OF-BOS) in 1942 and again in 1947.

In his 10 seasons, Cabrera has 321 career home runs, 1,123 RBIs, a career batting average of .318 and a career on-base percentage of .318.

Cabrera’s Triple Crown should be only the start of his awards this post-season. In winning the Triple Crown, he has almost certainly set himself up for the American League MVP award.

However, Trout’s season is by no stretch of the imagination unimpressive. For a rookie to have such a high batting average is great, but taking out of the mix the Wins Above Replacement of both players, Cabrera had more of an MVP caliber year. The only possible way Trout may take the MVP away from Cabrera is if the Tigers fail to go deep into the playoffs.

Another thing to remember is that Miguel Cabrera is only 29 years old. He easily has another eight to 10 years of baseball left in him and will almost certainly be putting up numbers like these for the foreseeable future.

What people may not recognize when they see Cabrera putting up these Hall of Fame numbers is that he plays almost every day. After playing 87 games in his first season, he has played at least 150 games each season since 2004.

Miguel Cabrera did something special this season, and even if the Tigers don’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs, he won the Triple Crown, and that’s something the people of Detroit and Tigers fans everywhere should be proud of.

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