Miguel Cabrera may not have won the Triple Crown again this year, but he did win his second MVP award in as many years due to off the charts offensive statistics. In fact, some argue that Cabrera had a more impressive season than in 2012 when he became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Tripple Crown. In 2013, Cabrera had a higher batting average (.348), on base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.636) then he did in 2012. All three categories led the American League despite Cabrera’s injuries.
The 137 RBI’s that Cabrera racked up were only one shy of league leader Chris Davis (Baltimore) and were only two shy of his 2012 mark. Cabrera matched his 2012 total of 44 homeruns but finished second to Davis who hit 53. But here is the scary part. Cabrera only hit one homerun in the last 25 games of the season because he was being hampered by a series of health problems focused on his groin, back and hip. After losing to the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, Cabrera had surgery on his groin. “The last two months were tough, ” Cabrera said. “I said, ‘OK, let’s play through it and see if we can get to the playoffs.’ “
Whether Cabrera was seriously injured for the last 25 games of the season or not he had an incredible offensive year. The adversity he faced however, appears to have made him even more appreciative. “It was more special, I put up better numbers with fewer games,” Cabrera said. “This year was tough with the injuries.” Cabrera becomes the first person to win the AL MVP award in back to back seasons since Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox did it in the 1993 and 1994 seasons. Albert Pujols did it in the National League in 2008 and 2009.
Again Cabrera’s closest competitor was Mike Trout, although close is a misleading descriptor. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America awarded Cabrera with 23 of the 30 first place votes, a landslide victory. In 2012, Cabrera received 22 of the 30 votes. Trout received five first place votes and Davis finished third in the voting. In the National league Pittsburg Pirates Outfielder Andrew McCutchen was named MVP.
Miguel Cabrera’s historic performance over the past two years has generated a new debate within the halls of baseball distinctions. The title of this generations greatest hitter had for a long time been granted solely on the shoulders of Albert Pujols. However, as Pujol’s numbers have seen a decline since he left his long time home in St. Louis to head to a higher pay day in Los Angeles playing for the Angels, Cabrera has earned his place next to Pujol’s in a discussion of this generation’s greatest hitter.
The similarities between the two are also striking. Both hit for both power and average while compiling league leading RBI production. Interestingly, both players have been moved around a fair amount in their career, most likely due to weight they put on in the latter years with their respective teams. Both players have played Left-field, Third-base and First-base. When you compare their careers Pujols still has overall better numbers. But Pujols has been been in decline while Cabrera is rising to the best seasons of his career. If this trend continues, and Cabrera can avoid further injuries, baseball may have a new greatest hitter of this generation.
By Nick Manai