A .330 average. Career highs in home runs (44) and RBIs (139).
Simply put, Cabrera had a regular season for the ages.
“Right now I feel most grateful,” said Cabrera, who has tried to shift the focus from himself to his playoff-bound team. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Not since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 had a player captured baseball’s holy trinity, as ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian put it on Thursday’s “SportsCenter” broadcast.
But even after Cabrera’s rare achievement, the American League MVP debate continues to rage between Detroit’s veteran third baseman and rookie phenom Mike Trout.
The Triple Crown is no guarantee, either. Since the Baseball Writers Association of American began voting on league MVPs in 1933, 10 players have now won the triple crown — and four of them (Chuck Klein in 1933, Lou Gehrig in 1934 and Ted Williams in 1942 and 1947) did not win MVP.
The credentials (stats in bold italics indicate league leader):
Cabrera: .330 average, .393 on-base percentage, .606 slugging percentage, 109 runs, 205 hits, 40 doubles, 44 home runs, 139 RBIs, 66 walks, 4 steals, .966 fielding percentage (697 plate appearances)
Trout: .326 average, .399 on-base percentage, .564 slugging percentage, 129 runs, 182 hits, 27 doubles, 8 triples, 30 home runs, 67 walks, 49 steals, .988 fielding percentage (639 plate appearances)
Cabrera is also still playing after he led the Tigers to another AL Central crown while Trout’s Angels finished four games out of the final wild-card spot. But Trout’s speed and standout defensive play are impossible to ignore. And like Cabrera, the 21-year-old has the utmost respect for his main competition.
“When he’s over the plate, he can do anything,” Trout said of Cabrera Wednesday night. “He’s the best hitter in the game. I think his approach, the way he battles with two strikes – you leave one pitch over the plate that at-bat and he’s going to hit it. He had an unbelievable year.”
Trout had an unbelievable year, too, and many of baseball’s biggest stat geeks believe he should be the clear AL MVP.
Who would get your vote?