Miguel Cabrera hit home run number 43 on the season in the eighth inning of Saturday’s win over the Minnesota Twins. The homer tied him for the league lead with Texas’ Josh Hamilton, and, also having leads in the batting average and RBI categories, puts him in position to win baseball’s first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski won it in 1967.
Cabrera is obviously having a fantastic season – one would have to in order to be in the running for a Triple Crown – but there’s still much debate about whether or not he should be voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player. One common argument in favor of Cabrera goes something like this: “if he wins the Triple Crown, he has to be the MVP.” I think that’s ridiculous.
He leads by eight on the RBI leaderboard, so he should be safe there, and it appears as though he’ll be able to hold on to the batting (average) title, but a big question mark remains with the home run totals. He’s currently tie with Hamilton, but, with a few games to go, it’s anyone’s race. If neither player hits another home run Cabrera will the Triple Crown and some will say he’s the “automatic” MVP.
If Josh Hamilton hits one more home run and Cabrera doesn’t, would these same people doubt his candidacy?
Would Cabrera really be less of an MVP candidate simply because Hamilton hit one additional home run?
The MVP race is quite clearly down to Cabrera and Angels’ rookie Mike Trout, and the lines have already been drawn. It’s quite simply WAR versus traditional counting stats. Is one more home run going to persuade a Trout/WAR voter into voting for Cabrera? And would 42 home runs instead of 43 home runs really have been enough to turn a Cabrera/traditional stats voter into a Trout believer? That seems really silly to me. Cabrera’s value should be determined with respect to Mike Trout, not with respect some arbitrarily moving Triple Crown threshold.