Grading Miguel Cabrera as Player of the Year and All 2012 Players Choice Awards

Doug MeadCorrespondent INovember 7, 2012

Grading Miguel Cabrera as Player of the Year and All 2012 Players Choice Awards

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    Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera showed fans throughout baseball that he is indeed one of the most feared sluggers in the game.

    His play caught the eyes of his peers as well.

    Cabrera was the winner of the 2012 Player of the Year Award in the Players Choice Awards announced on Tuesday.

    The award is very special in that the votes come from Cabrera's peers—only major league players vote for the award.

    Winning the Triple Crown likely had something to do with the way his peers felt about him.

    Other awards were announced as well, and we will grade each choice accordingly.

Player of the Year Award: Miguel Cabera

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    It's probably hard to tell major league players that they have to look at the overall picture in determining who the most outstanding player is in all of baseball.

    While sabermetrics experts and other assorted baseball gurus point to the overall season put forth by Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout and his obvious achievements, how do players judge their peers?

    Simply by what they see on the field.

    Ultimately, the players decided that nothing could trump a Triple Crown.

    Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown performance was more than enough to convince his own peers that he was indeed baseball's most outstanding player.

    They saw Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs for the AL champion Detroit Tigers. They saw Cabrera stay hot through the waning weeks of the season, while Trout leveled off in August and September.

    They saw Cabrera carry his team over the Chicago White Sox to take the AL Central Division title, and they also watched Trout and the Angels unable to push past the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers in the AL West.

    They also watched as Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen put on another fabulous performance in attempting to push his team past the .500 mark for the first time in 20 years.

    But ultimately, for the players, nothing trumps a Triple Crown.

    Grade: A

American League Player of the Year: Miguel Cabera

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    For the same reasons listed on the previous slide, the players got this one right.

    Cabrera become just the 12th major leaguer in history to achieve the rare feat of leading his league in home runs, runs batted in and batting average, and the first since 1967.

    Sabermetrics be damned—that's an achievement worthy of Player of the Year status.

    Grade: A

National League Player of the Year: Andrew McCutchen

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    Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen continues to impress both players and fans alike, as they have watched him develop into one of the elite players in the National League.

    But they got this award wrong.

    This should have been awarded to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.

    Forget the fact that Posey came back from a gruesome injury in 2011. The fact that he literally helped carry his team offensively in the second half to ensure another postseason berth was for me the deciding factor.

    McCutchen certainly had a terrific season—a .321 average, 31 HR, 96 RBI, a league-leading 194 hits and a Gold Glove Award.

    But McCutchen was just ordinary in the final two months of the season—a .253 average with nine homers and 30 RBI.

    In Posey's final two months, he hit .367 with 11 HR and 42 RBI.

    Stepping your game up when it most matters is exactly what Posey did to get his team in position to win.

    Grade: D

American League Outstanding Pitcher: David Price

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    Choosing the best pitcher in the American League could not have been an easy choice for major league players.

    The choice between David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels certainly wasn't an easy one to make.

    Price led the American League with 20 wins and a 2.56 ERA. He continued being stingy on the mound, giving up just 7.4 hits per nine innings and posting the lowest WHIP of his career (1.10).

    Solid choice here by the players, as Price wins the award for the second time in three seasons.

    Grade: B

National League Outstanding Pitcher: R.A. Dickey

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    When thrown correctly, the knuckleball is easily one of the hardest pitches to hit in baseball.

    As it floats motionless through the air, the currents grab hold of it and take it wherever it wants, often to a point where the catcher can't even control it.

    That's why New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey is more than deserving of the National League Outstanding Pitcher award.

    Dickey floated his knuckler to great success, posting a 20-6 record, a 2.73 ERA and a league-leading 230 strikeouts.

    For me, however, what's even more impressive, is Dickey's WHIP of 1.053. He walked only 2.1 batters every nine innings. Considering the knuckleball has a life and flight of its own, that's an astonishing feat in itself.

    Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez was terrific in his first year in a new league with his 21-8 record and 2.89 ERA. Gonzalez was stingy, giving up just nine home runs to lead the majors and allowing only 6.7 hits per nine innings.

    But I have no doubt that many National League players became convinced that Dickey's season was just a bit better, especially after they cursed themselves walking away from the plate after an exasperating at-bat against Dickey.

    Grade: B+

American League Outstanding Rookie: Mike Trout

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    If there was any award for which there should have been no doubt whatsoever, this was the one.

    Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is going to walk away after the awards season with a lot of hardware, and his peers gave him another trophy to add to his mantel as well.

    Trout led the majors in runs scored (129) and stolen bases (49). He hit 30 HR with 83 RBI. He hit .326, leading the American League for much of the season before being overtaken in the final weeks by Miguel Cabrera. His OPS+ of 171 also led the American League.

    Certainly a no-brainer here.

    Grade: A+

National League Outstanding Rookie: Todd Frazier

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    When Cincinnati Reds third baseman Scott Rolen went on the disabled list in May with left shoulder soreness, rookie Todd Frazier was there to help fill in.

    When MVP-winning first baseman Joey Votto was sidelined with a knee injury, Frazier was there once again to help out in a pinch.

    It's likely for that reason that Frazier was voted the National League Outstanding Rookie award by his peers.

    Versatility means a lot in baseball, especially when you're being asked to fill in for superstars along the way. Not only did Frazier fill in capably, his team never missed a beat, rolling easily to the NL Central Division title.

    Frazier's overall numbers—a .273 batting average with 19 HR and 67 RBI—may not look all that glossy. However, his ability to fill in capably at two different positions in place of Gold Glove Award-winning stars, had to have been a factor in the eyes of his peers.

    Frazier won the award over two other candidates—starting pitcher Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks and outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.

    Harper's 22 home runs as a teenager was certainly impressive, as was Miley's 16 wins. But Frazier's ability to fill in for injured stars and keep his team rolling in the right direction made him the choice—the right choice at that.

    Grade: B

American League Comeback Player of the Year: Adam Dunn

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    Considering the incredibly awful season that Adam Dunn had in 2011, he had nowhere to go but up.

    Dunn hit .159 with just 11 home runs in his first season with the Chicago White Sox. Had Dunn qualified for the batting title, he would have recorded the worst hitting season in MLB history.

    There's no question Dunn's 2012 season was far more productive. He clubbed 41 home runs while leading the majors in walks (105).

    However, he also led the majors in strikeouts (222) and still only hit .204 on the season.

    His teammate, center fielder Alex Rios, was for me a better choice for this award.

    Rios slumped badly in 2011 as well and came back with a stellar 2012 season.

    Here's a breakdown of Rios' last two years.

    2011: .227 BA, .265 OBP, .613 OPS, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 11 SB

    2012: .304 BA, .334 OBP, .850 OPS, 25 HR, 91 RBI, 23 SB

    If we're looking at a complete turnaround between teammates, Rios wins hands down.

    However, the turnaround that should have been recognized the most was by Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney.

    After two very unfulfilling years with the Los Angeles Angels, the Rays took a chance and signed Rodney to a $1.75 million contract. Rodney was certainly looked upon as a reclamation project at the time.

    Rodney's effort for the Rays in 2012 was nothing short of outstanding—48 saves, a miniscule 0.60 ERA and 0.777 WHIP, and he gave up just 5.2 hits every nine innings.

    While Dunn and Rios put forth excellent comeback seasons, Rodney's season by far trumps both.

    Grade: D+

National League Comeback Player of the Year: Buster Posey

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    The MLBPA had a tough choice to make regarding the National League Comeback Player of the Year. They certainly had two worthy candidates in San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey and Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche.

    Posey came back from a gruesome home plate collision in May 2011, one that shattered his left ankle.

    He won the National League batting title with a .336 average and hit 24 HR with 103 RBI. His OPS+ of 172 led the majors as well.

    LaRoche played in only 43 games last season before undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He returned in 2012 to hit 33 HR with 100 RBI for the Nationals, and was arguably one of their most consistent offensive performers throughout the season. LaRoche also captured his first-ever Gold Glove Award.

    Tough call, but the players got it right.

    Grade: B

     

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.