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AL MVP Race
by Al McMordie - 10/04/2012
The ink isn't even dry yet on the MLB Post-season brackets and yet there's more talk than usual about some of the individual awards in baseball this year, which are counted only for the regular season, but not handed out until after the World Series. The one award that has more people talking, debating, and disagreeing is the A.L. Most Valuable Player. The award would seem to come down to three players who couldn't be more different in what they've done in 2012. First and foremost, there is the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who has achieved arguably the most statistically important individual milestone possible - the Triple Crown. Not since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 has there been a TC winner in the Majors - and incidentally, Yaz did go on to win the MVP that year. So slam dunk for Cabrera, right? Not so fast. There is precedence for a player winning the Triple Crown but not the MVP that same year as oddly enough, the great Ted Williams won two Triple Crowns (1942 and 1947) but didn't win the MVP in either of those seasons, although he did win the award on two other occasions. Next, you have a player in 20-year-old Mike Trout who is a shoe-in for the Rookie of the Year award and whose accomplishments are so astounding for a rookie that he will get plenty of consideration for MVP, and deservedly so. Trout is the first rookie in the history of the game to have 30 homers and 30 stolen bases (he's actually gone 30-49 which is even more amazing) and he also led the league in runs scored and he did all of this in less than 140 games played. In addition, Trout has played an almost flawless center field for most of the year, making game-saving catches on more than one occasion. So a two horse race then, right? Not so fast. The MVP Wild Card is a guy in New York named Derek Jeter. One season removed from becoming the first Yankee to reach 3000 career hits, Jeter is having an amazing campaign at age 38, batting .317 and leading the league in hits. Jeter is the captain of one of the most storied franchises in sports with which he's spent his entire 18-year career and incredibly he's never won the MVP crown. You could easily argue that the Yanks - whose record is significantly better than either the Angels or Tigers - would not possibly have gotten to where they are this October (especially with all their injuries) without Jeter leading the way.
In almost any other season, the Rangers' Josh Hamilton and Orioles' Adam Jones would also get serious consideration for the MVP, but unfortunately for them, they are distant also-rans in a year filled with memorable performances from three All Stars, each from a different division. With the highlight reel seasons of Cabrera, Trout, and Jeter, the 2012 race for A.L. MVP has been almost as exciting as the race for the Pennants themselves.