Results tagged ‘ Miguel Cabrera ’

Leyland pondering whether to hit Cabrera third

When Jim Leyland batted Miguel Cabrera third in the ALCS, he did it out of necessity. Magglio Ordonez was out. Delmon Young was out, then back but hobbled. There was no ideal guy left to put in front of Cabrera and take advantage of strikes.

That all is done now, but Leyland hasn’t eliminated the idea of keeping Cabrera in the third spot quite yet.

“I might,” Leyland said in his media session Wednesday.  “I’m thinking about it.  That will be one of those lineups that I makeup all winter long, and have him in the three spot and have him in the four spot.

Leyland has made out about 10 lineups by his count, and he has gone back and forth with it. Keeping Delmon Young there is another option. Moving Brennan Boesch back there, where he was for much of July and August, is another.

“With Boesch and Young, Miguel is not a burner, Boesch does good,” Leyland said. “If [Austin] Jackson is doing well, that’s three guys that can get around the bases better, so I might leave him fourth, but I would consider it.”

The question of where to hit Cabrera, regarded by many as the best hitter in the American League, has been debated pretty much ever since he arrived in Detroit four years ago. Leyland’s preference has always been to bat Cabrera fourth and try to enhance his RBI opportunities. Others have argued that putting Cabrera third guarantees he’ll bat in the first inning and betters his chances to get more plate appearances.

“You look at that two ways,” Leyland said, restarting the debate. “You can come up in the first inning with two out and nobody on.  If he comes up [in the first] and he hits fourth, that means he has somebody [on base], so you can look at that a lot of different ways.  Some guys thought it was [right to have] the best actual contact type hitter third, but our lineup is pretty deep.

“I feel real comfortable, I think with whatever our lineup looks like.  I think it will be okay.”

Three Tigers win Negro League Legacy Awards

One more set of awards for you, this one from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City: Justin Verlander did not win MVP honors this time, but he earned the AL’s Bullet Rogan Pitcher of the Year award. Former Tiger Curtis Granderson won the AL’s Oscar Charleston Award for MVP. Jose Valverde won the AL’s Hilton Smith Award for top reliever. Miguel Cabrera, meanwhile, was the winner of the Buck Leonard award for top batting average in the league.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum established the Legacy Awards in 2000 to honor baseball’s best with awards given in name and spirit of Negro Leagues legends such as Charleston, Rogan, Smith, Leonard, Josh Gibson and Buck O’Neil. The awards are scheduled to be presented in Kansas City on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.

Verlander wins AL MVP

Justin Verlander’s case for winning American League MVP is closed. His trophy case, on the other hand, had better be open, because he’s going to need room.

With a no-hitter, an AL pitching Tripe Crown and a Tigers division title on his resume, Verlander became the first starting pitcher in a quarter-century — and the first Tiger since 1984 — to win AL MVP, beating out former teammate Curtis Granderson and others for the league’s highest individual honor.

Verlander received 13 of 28 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Verlander received three votes for second place and three votes for third. His point total 0f 280 didn’t give him a runaway win, but a safe margin.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who enjoyed a breakthrough season as an all-around hitter for a Red Sox team that fell just short of the AL Wild Card, finished second with 242 points, followed by Jose Bautista and Granderson.

Verlander’s teammate, Miguel Cabrera, finished fifth with 193 points, including two first-place votes. Last year’s runner-up for MVP won the AL batting title with a scorching home stretch in August and September. Alex Avila and Victor Martinez also received votes.

Verlander’s total shows how much voters accepted the idea that a pitcher is worthy of MVP consideration. It would’ve taken just a few voters in adamant opposition to keep him from the honor, since those voters would’ve left him completely off their ballot. That didn’t happen.

Only one voter left Verlander off their ballot completely. Twenty-six of the other 27 voters selected Verlander for sixth place or better, with one vote for eighth.

In a way, it was probably fitting. Verlander became the Tigers’ fifth league MVP in the last 70 seasons. All of them have been pitchers, joining Verlander with former relief great Guillermo Hernandez, former 30-game winner Denny McLain, and back-to-back winner Hal Newhouser.

Verlander named Tiger of the Year

In a vote that surprised no one, members of the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named Justin Verlander as the Tiger of the Year. He received 25 out of 26 votes, with the other going to Miguel Cabrera.

It’s the second Tiger of the Year award in the last three years for Verlander. He and Cabrera have essentially alternated the award the last four years.

How did M-Cab lose Silver Slugger to A-Gon?

Miguel Cabrera (Getty Images)Nobody in the Major Leagues with enough playing time to qualify for a batting title hit for a higher average than Miguel Cabrera. Nobody even hit within five points of him.

Only one Major League hitter posted a better OPS than Cabrera, and it wasn’t Adrian Gonzalez. It was Jose Bautista. Gonzalez hit 76 points lower than Cabrera.

Cabrera posted higher on-base and slugging percentages (again, he led the league in the first category), scored more runs, hit more home runs and more doubles than his former fellow Marlins farmhand. He led such specialized stats as Wins Above Replacement (7.3 to 6.6, according to, had a higher isolated power rate, had more runs created, had a higher win probability, and enough other numbers to keep going for a while.

Cabrera did not win the Silver Slugger at first base. Gonzalez did.

What gives? Well, the best explanation is that the Silver Slugger is very much like the Gold Glove. In some cases, it might be worse. This might be one of those cases, and I’ll explain why.

Like the Gold Glove awards, managers and coaches around the league vote for the Silver Sluggers. They make out their ballots toward the end of the season, but not at the very end. They have enough things to do at the very end of the season with their own teams.

With the Gold Glove ballots, that usually doesn’t matter. A great defender is seen as a great defender, no matter what happens from one week to the next, in part because defensive stats aren’t followed and aren’t changed that much in that short of a stretch. Hitting stats, of course, are a lot different, which makes the Silver Slugger a lot easier to critique.

Cabrera wasn’t leading the league in hitting with a week left in the season, and he wasn’t particularly close. Adrian Gonzalez was on his way, and his challenge was seemingly coming from Michael Young. Cabrera hit 17-for-29 with four doubles, four homers and eight RBIs over Detroit’s final eight games and turned a great season into an excellent one, maybe even MVP caliber. It was just in time to sway the batting race, too late to sway votes.

How can a batting champion not win a Silver Slugger? Pretty easily, it turns out. NL batting champ Jose Reyes was left out, too. No AL batting champ had been snubbed since Michael Young in 2005, but look over the 32-year history of the Silver Sluggers, and Cabrera is the 12th such victim on the AL side. In the National League, it’s even more common. Reyes is the 13th. Nobody, however, is going to argue that Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t deserving as the NL shortstop.

Add together the snubs, and a league batting champ makes the Silver Sluggers about 60 percent of the time. Conventional wisdom suggests that those who get snubbed usually don’t hit for more than batting average, but that’s not always the case. Larry Walker batting .350 for the Rockies in 2001 with 38 homers and 123 RBIs, and he didn’t make it. Nomar Garciaparra hit .372 in 2000 with 21 homers, and A-Rod still beat him out, just as he did when Nomar drove in 104 runs with a .357 average a year earlier. Terry Pendleton won an NL batting crown and NL MVP in 1991, but lost out on the Silver Slugger at third base because Howard Johnson led the league in homers and RBIs while hitting just .259.

Does that make it right for Cabrera to get snubbed? Heck no. But it does put some history on it.

Avila is lone Tigers Silver Slugger winner

Alex Avila missed out on a Gold Glove award. He will gladly take a Silver Slugger instead. The Tigers, too, will take a win over Mike Napoli.

With a big first season as a full-time starting catcher, Avila took the mantle for the American League’s best offensive catcher from the oft-injured Joe Mauer. The All-Star beat out Napoli, Matt Wieters and others to earn the Silver Slugger award at his position, the only Tiger to do so this season.

Avila is the first Tiger to win the Silver Slugger at catcher since 2004, Ivan Rodriguez’s first season in Detroit. He’s the first catcher other than Mauer to win the honor since 2007, when Jorge Posada won it.

“To be considered the best offensive catcher is great,” Avila told Wednesday night in a text message, “and it’s an achievement I’m very proud of.”

It wasn’t necessarily an easy decision for AL managers and coaches. Though Avila earned the All-Star start at catcher on his first-half roll, and never had the huge falloff that some might have expected, he also had to deal with catchers who heated up down the stretch. None got hotter than Napoli, who hit .383 with 18 home runs and 42 RBIs after the All-Star, including .429 with eight homers in September. Though Napoli made just 57 starts behind the plate, he played there more than he did at any other position.

Wieters, who beat out Avila for the Gold Glove as announced Tuesday night, also made his case based on power. He homered 12 times in August and September and posted an .840 OPS over the season’s second half.

In the end, though, nobody showed the consistency that Avila displayed, surprisingly so for a 24-year-old dealing with the wear and tear of more starts than any other AL catcher. He actually built on his first-half numbers by hitting for a higher average, near-identical slugging percentage and a higher OPS after the break.

Avila, ironically, is a friend of Napoli.

“We’re from the same area in south Florida,” Avila said, “and he had a great season, but it doesn’t make it any better. Being a Silver Slugger is pretty good on its own.”

Tiger catchers have won 10 of the 32 Silver Sluggers since the award began in 1980. Half of those went to Lance Parrish, who added a sixth as an Angel in 1990. Rodriguez, Mickey Tettleton and Matt Nokes also won at least one Silver Slugger in a Detroit uniform.

Detroit had three other realistic candidates for Silver Sluggers, but all lost out in what looked like crowded fields and tough decisions for managers and coaches. While reigning Silver Slugger first baseman Miguel Cabrera won a batting title with a late-season tear, it came too late to sway voters to choose him over Adrian Gonzalez.

Jhonny Peralta led all AL shortstops in batting average and OPS, but his former teammate in Cleveland, Asdrubal Cabrera, had the advantage in hits, RBIs and runs scored. That earned Cabrera the vote, making him the first Indian to win a Silver Slugger since Grady Sizemore in 2008 and the first Cleveland infielder since Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar in 2000.

Though designated hitter isn’t a defensive position, it’s a Silver Slugger award, and it pitted Victor Martinez against former Red Sox teammate David Ortiz this year. Martinez had the higher batting average, finishing fourth in the league at .330, but Ortiz had better run production numbers to win his fifth Silver Slugger at DH. Those two will likely have a similar competition going when AL media members vote for the outstanding DH award.

Verlander, Avila on Sporting News AL all-star team

The first end-of-season test for Justin Verlander’s MVP candidacy comes out Friday, when Sporting News names its MLB Player of the Year. On Thursday, though, he received the more obvious honor of the starting pitching spot on the magazine’s AL All-Star team. He was the only unanimous selection on the AL side, according to the article on the Sporting News website.

Voting took place among 289 players, 23 managers and 55 Major League executives, so getting a unanimous selection isn’t easy. Matt Kemp was the only one to get it on the NL side, which means somebody didn’t vote for Clayton Kershaw despite his lofty stats.

Alex Avila also made the AL team at catcher. Somewhat surprisingly, Miguel Cabrera didn’t get the nod at first base, losing out to Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez. Keep in mind, though, that voting took place in September, with most ballots turned in before Cabrera went on his final-week tear and before the Red Sox collapse was complete.

Also surprising, as others have pointed out: Jose Valverde didn’t get the relief pitcher honor. That went to Mariano Rivera. Did the Big Potato’s save celebrations turn off some players around voting time, or did they go with the Hall of Famer?

Also, in less of a shocker but still intriguing, Jhonny Peralta lost out to his former teammate in Cleveland, Asdrubal Cabrera, for shortstop honors.

Verlander up for top honor at Players Choice Awards

Justin Verlander is a finalist for not only the American League’s Outstanding Player, but Major League Player of the Year honors among the Players Choice Awards to be announced Nov. 3 on MLB Network.

The MLB Players Association, which administers the awards through player balloting, announced the three finalists for each award on Friday. Verlander is the lone Tiger up for any awards, but the fact that he made the list of finalists for the biggest award on the docket says a lot about his chances.

The awards tend to serve as a preview for the more traditional Major League awards, as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America and announced later in the month.

Like the AL Cy Young award, Verlander is an overwhelming favorite to win AL Outstanding Pitcher honors. He captured the AL’s pitching Triple Crown by topping all AL pitchers with 24 wins, a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, becoming the first American Leaguer to do that since Johan Santana in 2006 and the first Tiger since Hal Newhouser in 1945.

Verlander also led AL pitchers with 251 innings, a .192 opposing batting average and a 0.92 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) ratio.

His competition for outstanding pitcher includes Angels ace Jered Weaver, who barely lost out to Verlander for the league ERA title at 2.41 while posting an 18-8 record for an Angels team that finished second to Texas in the AL West. The other finalist is James Shields, whose 11 complete games left him just five outs shy of Verlander’s innings mark while going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 225 strikeouts over 249 1/3 innings.

No pitcher has won Player of the Year since it was added to the Players Choice Awards in 1998, but Verlander has a very good shot to be the first. His two competitors are his former Detroit teammate Curtis Granderson, who hit 41 homers with 119 RBIs while leading the league with 136 runs scored, and Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez, who finished second to Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera in batting average at .338 while driving in 117 runs and posting a .410 on-base percentage.

The Player of the Year award is the players’ equivalent of MVP honors, but it includes players from both leagues. How Verlander fares in balloting won’t necessarily reflect how his AL MVP chances went, because it’s hard to tell whether player sentiment on voting a pitcher for a traditional position player honor reflects the views of writers who vote on MVP. Still, it would be a very nice harbinger for him.

Cabrera did not make the list for Player of the year, nor did he crack the three finalists for AL Outstanding Player despite his AL batting crown. It’s worth noting, though, that balloting among players was conducted in mid-September, before Cabrera’s final-week run to lead the league in average.

Players Choice winners in each category will designate charities to receive grants from the Major League Baseball Players Trust, which promotes community involvement while raising funds and attention for worthy causes. A total of $260,000 in grants will be given out from the awards.


Cabrera set to skip Taiwan series, shoulder still sore

Venezuelan journalist Ignacio Serrano got in touch with Miguel Cabrera yesterday for his reaction to winning the Luis Aparicio Award as Venezuela’s best Major League player this season. Cabrera was very humbled by the award, and the fact that he won it by a unanimous vote from Venezuelan and Spanish-speaking baseball writers, and he talked about being able to spend time at home with his family.

At the end of the post is news that Cabrera will skip the MLB all-star series in Taiwan next weekend to rest his sore right shoulder, which is still bothering him since his collision with Mike Napoli at home plate in Game 4 of the ALCS. If it stays sore, Cabrera told Serrano, he’ll have an MRI to make sure there’s nothing more serious.

Update at 5:20pm: An MLB spokesperson confirmed Cabrera has decided not to take part and will stay home to rest.

Cabrera had agreed to go on the Taiwan trip with Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, among others, but it depended on how far the Tigers got into the postseason. The fact that the Tigers got as deep as they did, six games into the ALCS, didn’t leave much time for Cabrera to recuperate.

As for the shoulder, the fact that Cabrera didn’t have tests on the shoulder before going home suggests it isn’t a long-term concern.

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.