Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guest Post: A Look at This Year's MLB MVPs

A Look at This Year's MLB MVPs

Although they weren't announced as winners until after the Fall Classic was completed, for the first time since 1988 the AL and NL regular-season MVP's (Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and San Francisco's Buster Posey) squared off in the World Series.

Having already established himself as one of the game's most consistent batsmen, Cabrera, in his fifth season with the Tigers, pulled off a baseball feat that hadn't been accomplished since 1967 by Boston's Carl Yastrzemski when he captured the rare Triple Crown. Cabrera's .330 batting average, 44 homeruns and 139 RBIs topped all AL batters, and the batting title was his second consecutive.

Posey took home the NL MVP following his 2012 season during which he batted .336 (tops in the majors), becoming the first NL catcher to accomplish that feat since Ernie Lombardi of the 1942 Boston Braves. Posey enjoyed a remarkable season, including catching Matt Cain's perfect game on June 13. He also made his first All-Star game appearance and was awarded the NL Comeback Player of the Year, having missed almost the entire 2011 season due to a gruesome injury suffered in a home-plate collision in May 2011. To add icing to the cake in 2012, Posey slammed a two-run homer for the Giants in the series-clinching Game 4.

Cabrera began his major-league career in 2003 with the Florida Marlins, becoming just the third player since 1900 to hit a game-winning homer in his big league debut. Batting cleanup and playing 1B, Cabrera's rookie numbers (.268 batting average, 12 HRs, 62 RBIs) were only a hint of things to come. In addition, Cabrera was a vital component in the teams' success, which culminated in a World Series championship in six games over the Yankees.

In 2004, Cabrera upped his numbers to .294, 33 HRs and 112 RBIs and was selected for the first time to the NL All-Star team. The following season, Cabrera continued his assault on NL pitchers, hitting .323 with 33 HRs and 116 RBIs. He also made the All-Star team again, and set a major-league record by becoming the youngest player in history to record back-to-back seasons of 30+ home runs. In 2006, Cabrera batted .339 (second in the NL), slugged 26 HRs and drove in 114 runs. He made his third consecutive All-Star game and had an eye-popping .430 on-base percentage. The 2007 season saw the 6'4 240-lb. Cabrera attain even more milestones when he batted .320 with 34 HRs and 119 RBIs and a fourth straight All-Star appearance. He also collected his 500th career RBI, becoming the third-youngest player behind Hall of Fame legends Ted Williams and Mel Ott to reach that mark.

In December, 2007 Cabrera was traded to the AL's Detroit Tigers and after negotiations, signed an 8-year, $185 million contract with his new team. The deal (at the time) was the fourth-largest in major league history. Moving to first base, he went on to set career-highs in both home runs and RBIs. In 2009, Cabrera remained a model of consistency, batting .324 with 34 HRs and driving in 103 runs. During the next season (2010), Cabrera put up his by-now-expected impressive numbers (.328, 38 HRs, 126 RBIs), but also suffered his first significant injury, a high ankle sprain which kept him on the bench for the season's final week. He also was named for the first time to the AL's All-Star team. Fully recovered for the 2011 season, Cabrera topped the AL in batting (.344), as well as hitting 30 HRs and driving in 105 runs. His .448 on-base percentage also led the league.

Cabrera's 2012 turned out to be one for the ages when he captured the Triple Crown, becoming the first third-baseman as well as the first Latin-American player to attain the rare feat.

As the fifth overall selection in the 2008 MLB Draft, big things were expected of Posey, and he delivered early on, batting .305 with 18 HRs and 67 RBIs during his 2010 rookie season. Posey earned NL Rookie of the Year honors and his contributions were critical to the Giants' postseason success, which saw the team capture their first World Series title since 1954. Posey batted .300 for the five-game series with the Texas Rangers, including a home run in Game 4.

Early in 2011, Posey was run over at home plate by Florida's Scott Cousins. The collision left Posey with a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments, requiring season-ending surgery. Appearing in only 45 games, Posey nonetheless put up admirable numbers (.284, 4 HRs, 21 RBIs).

Showing no ill effects from his injuries, Posey came roaring back in 2012, becoming only the fourth catcher in the modern era to lead his league in batting. Posey was especially effective against left-handed pitching, topping the majors by hitting .433 when facing southpaws. The baby-faced backstop also shone in the postseason, drilling a grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS versus Cincinnati to help San Francisco advance. That accomplishment made him only the fourth catcher in MLB history to hit a grand slam in the postseason.
Both Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey are more than worthy of their many accomplishments in their relatively brief careers. At 29, Cabrera is just coming into his prime, while the 25-year old Posey already ranks not only among the best young hitters, but his field leadership and ability to handle pitchers has drawn admiration from the entire baseball community. Barring serious injury, it would come as no surprise for these two reigning MVPs to continue to be among the game's elite for several more seasons.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and recommends FansEdge for the latest in official MLB apparel for all 30 teams.

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