October 20th, 2011

Cabrera wins Luis Aparicio Award as Venezuela’s best

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera will watch his case unfold for a few postseason awards in the coming weeks. His status as the best Venezuelan player in the Majors this year was unquestioned, which is why he was a unanimous choice to receive the Luis Aparicio Award.

Venezuelan and other Spanish speaking baseball writers vote each year on the award, presented to the most prominent baseball player in the regular season. Cabrera finished a close second to Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez last year and lost out to Felix Hernandez in 2009, but his first-ever batting crown and the Tigers’ rise to their first division title in 24 years left him with no major challengers this season.

While Cabrera received all 100 first-place votes, his Tigers teammate Victor Martinez took second, barely edging out Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cabrera became just the fourth Venezuelan-born player ever to win a big-league batting title this year, using a torrid closing week to finish at .344 and beat out Texas’ Michael Young and Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez. He became the first Tiger to win a batting title since fellow Venezuelan Magglio Ordonez won it in 2007.

Cabrera also led the league with 48 doubles, fueling a .586 slugging percentage that ranked second among AL hitters and second-best among his career numbers.

Nobody in the American League played in more regular-season games than Cabrera. The only game he missed was the game he was away to be with his wife for the birth of their third child.

Ordonez’s batting title made him the last player to win the award by a unanimous vote, so it made sense that Cabrera did the same. In the process, Cabrera became the first position player to win the award twice, having done so with the Florida Marlins in 2005. Johan Santana is the only other two-time winner in the award’s eight-year history.

Cabrera will return to Venezuela to receive the award in a ceremony Nov. 18 prior to a Venezuelan Winter League game in Maracaibo. That is the hometown of Aparicio, the only Venezuelan-born player in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 10-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner set a defensive standard at shortstop for his generation while also leading the American League in stolen bases in each of his first nine seasons.