November 12th, 2013

Cabrera named Tiger of the Year for a 4th time

While Miguel Cabrera waits to find out whether he’ll be the first back-to-back American League MVP since Frank Thomas two decades ago, he can take credit for one bit of awards history. He now has more Tiger of the Year awards than anyone in franchise history.

On Tuesday, the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America voted Cabrera as Tiger of the Year for the second season in a row and the fourth time overall. As much as Max Scherzer meant for Tigers fortunes during a 21-3 season that made him the AL Cy Young award favorite, he couldn’t match what Cabrera meant to the Tigers’ third consecutive division title run.

Cabrera received 17 out of 25 votes, with Scherzer taking the other eight, according to newspaper reports.

The win moved Cabrera out of a tie for most Tiger of the Year honors in the award’s history, dating back to 1965. He was part of a group of three-time winners that included Denny McLain (1966, 68-69), Alan Trammell (1980, 87-88) and Cecil Fielder (1990-92).

Cabrera also became the first repeat winner since fellow third baseman Travis Fryman in 1995-96, and broke a five-year string in which Cabrera and Justin Verlander had been alternating years as winners.

Cabrera didn’t repeat his Triple Crown from last year, but he actually bettered his numbers in most of his averages while posting home runs and RBIs at a better pace. His .348 batting average was a career high and easily a Major League best for this season, making him the first right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby in the 1920s to win three consecutive league batting titles.

Cabrera spent much of the season’s second half on pace for a historic .350 average, 40 homers and 150 RBIs before abdominal and groin injuries finally sapped his power over the final weeks of the season. As it was, he still matched last year’s total of 44 home runs to go with 137 RBIs, one off his 2012 total, despite playing in 13 fewer games and playing injured in several more.

Not since Todd Helton and Carlos Delgado in 2000 had a Major League hitter batted .340 or better with 35 homers and 140 RBIs in the same season.

Cabrera either scored or drove in 196 of Detroit’s 796 runs for the season. In other words, one out of every four Tigers runs went through Cabrera. It’s lower than the 28 percent share he claimed on Detroit’s offense in 2012, but it was nonetheless impressive.

Cabrera’s 7.2 Wins Above Replacement more than doubled that of the next-closest Tigers position player, according to the formula used by baseball-reference, and topped Scherzer by half a win.

Cabrera will be presented with a trophy from the BBWAA Detroit chapter to recognize the award prior to a game next season.

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