Miguel Cabrera wins Hank Aaron Award again
Neither a nasty groin injury that sapped some power numbers nor the magical season of Chris Davis could keep Miguel Cabrera from another Hank Aaron Award. The Tigers superstar was on hand to receive his second consecutive honor — given to the top hitter in each league — prior to Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
By now, you know the numbers and feats. Cabrera is the first right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby built a hitting dynasty in the same city where Cabrera received his award Sunday night. His .348 average topped everybody else in the Majors by at least 17 points. His .442 on-base percentage and .636 slugging clip also led the big leagues, resulting in a career-best 1.078 OPS that led baseball by 74 points.
Add in highlight feats like the three-homer game at Texas in May, the game-tying shot to straightaway center off Danny Salazar in August, and the two home runs off Mariano Rivera over three games in the Bronx, and Cabrera had a tough case to top in fan balloting, as well as the vote of a panel of Hall of Famers that included Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray and Robin Yount.
Cabrera won out over 14 other AL team nominees, including Davis, Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, David Ortiz and Robinson Cano.
“It’s a great honor,” Cabrera said at the press conference. “I don’t expect to win any hardware. I expect to win games. My goal is always to go out and win games. We fell short this year, but I know we have a great team. This award is for all my teammates.”
The second half of that hitting, of course, came despite what was revealed last week to be a grade 2-3 groin injury. Hank Aaron acknowledged at the press conference the challenge of what Cabrera was able to play through, calling it remarkable.
“It was hard to talk to the media about how I was feeling,” Cabrera said, “because I was trying to focus on how I could help my team to win games. I was hurt, but I don’t want to open up and try to tell the other team I was hurt. I want to be in the field. …
“It was hard, but i want to play like that. I want to go out and help my team like that. It was my choice.”
Cabrera was not asked whether he’ll need surgery to repair the injury.
Cabrera is the fourth player to win back-to-back Hank Aaron Awards since it began in 1999. Jose Bautista won two in a row in 2010 and 2011 before Cabrera broke his reign last year. Alex Rodriguez won three in a row from 2001-2003. Barry Bonds won the NL honor three times in a four-year span from 2001 to 2004.
Cabrera also talked for the first time about Jim Leyland’s retirement and how he took the news after Game 6 of the ALCS last weekend.
“It was a big surprise for all of us,” he said. “He was an inspiration to us all. I thanked him because thanks to him, I’m a better player. He always makes us believe that we can win every single game. He should have his own reasons and I am very sad that he has retired.”