Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown Chase: Does It Make Him the Default MVP Choice?
Miguel Cabrera's chase for baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967 has not only propelled Cabrera into the spotlight, but has helped his Detroit Tigers clinch the American League Central division title.
If he, after Wednesday's games still leads the A.L. in batting average, home runs and RBI, will that guarantee him the MVP award over his only real competition in Angels rookie Mike Trout?
Since 1933, there have been nine Triple Crown winners.
Four of those (44 percent) have not won the MVP award as a result of their amazing offensive, though personal, feats. It happened to Ted Williams twice, Lou Gehrig once and also to Chuck Klein. In three of those cases, the MVP awardee's team won the pennant.
It would seem then that team success is more important than the Triple Crown accolade.
You have to remember, though, that since the last Triple Crown winner, times have changed.
Now, there are three divisions in each league as opposed to none. Back in the day, winning that pennant was nearly everything. You basically needed to be in the World Series to have a shot at MVP.
Now, there is no need to beat 14 other teams to make it to the playoffs.
Heck, you only have to beat out eight if you are in the American League and you will be playing bonus baseball.
It is a lot easier to make the playoffs in 2012 then in the past, so team success doesn't factor into MVP voting as much as it did in pre-1969 baseball.
Voters (writers) no longer know who is headed to the World Series when they cast their votes.
In Cabrera's case, if he wins the Triple Crown, it will surely not guarantee him the MVP award. Even though his team won their division, they haven't won a pennant or ensured a spot in the Fall Classic.
By Baseball-Reference WAR, Cabrera trails Mike Trout by 3.9, and he also trails a slew of other players.
What winning the Triple Crown will do is act as an additive to help him make up that gap, as will his team's success compared to Trout's. What will also help is Cabrera's late season tear coinciding with his team's pursuit and overtaking of the Chicago White Sox.
A Triple Crown award isn't a means to an MVP end. It is simply ammo for a player's CV when the writers make their evaluations and cast their votes.
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