The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

November 14, 2013

McCutchen takes NL MVP award, Cabrera honored in AL

NEW YORK — Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera both coasted Thursday to Most Valuable Player awards.

McCutchen won the National League honor by a surprisingly wide margin after leading a baseball revival in Pittsburgh. He drew 28 of the 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Seated in a sweater and tie, a smiling McCutchen juked a sort of stationary shimmy when his name was announced on MLB Network.

“If I could get up and dance right now I would, but I don’t have much room to do that,” he said. “When I get off camera, I probably will.”

Cabrera took the AL prize for the second straight year, once again winning by a comfortable gap over Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

A season after posting the majors’ first Triple Crown in 45 years, Cabrera came back to lead baseball in hitting at .348 and finish second with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs.

Cabrera got 23 of 30 first-place votes, becoming the first player to win consecutive AL MVPs since Frank Thomas for the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and 1994.

“This is unbelievable,” Cabrera said, young kids buzzing around him. “I’m so excited right now.”

McCutchen ranked among the NL leaders by hitting .317 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI. He also scored 97 runs, stole 27 bases and had a .404 on-base percentage.

The 27-year-old with the long, flowing dreadlocks helped the Pirates stop a record streak of 20 losing seasons and make the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

McCutchen, third in MVP balloting last season, got 409 points. Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt finished second with 242, while St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina received the other two first-place votes and came in third.

Goldschmidt hit .302 with 36 homers and 125 RBI. Molina batted .319 with 12 homers and 80 RBI, and virtually shut down opponents’ running games. Molina and Goldschmidt each won a Gold Glove, too.

McCutchen’s win came two days after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was picked as the NL Manager of the Year. McCutchen was the first Pittsburgh player to win the MVP since Barry Bonds in 1992.

The Pirates went 94-68 this year, a season after going 79-83. Along the way, McCutchen became the face of the franchise and heard loud “MVP!” chants when he would step to the plate at PNC Park this summer.

“I’d lie to you if I said it didn’t enter my mind ever,” he said. “It’s awesome to hear something like that.”

Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati in the NL wild-card game, then lost to St. Louis in a division series that went the full five games.

Boston wound up beating St. Louis in the World Series. No one on the Red Sox or Cardinals won any of the major BBWAA awards.

Trout got five first-place votes and came in second, 103 points behind Cabrera. The difference was 81 points last season, when Trout was AL Rookie of the Year.

Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis, who led the majors with 53 homers and 138 RBI, was third. Davis and Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson each received a first-place vote.

Cabrera took his third AL batting title in a row. He also drew a $1 million bonus for winning a second MVP during his current contract with the Tigers.

“I was so nervous because it was a great competition,” he said.

The 30-year-old third baseman from Venezuela also captured the AL MVP last year when he hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBI. Cabrera topped Trout 22-6 in first-place votes in that balloting.

Trout hit .323 with 27 homers and 97 RBI this year, stole 33 bases and led the AL in runs and walks.

The Tigers have virtually owned the major postseason awards during a three-year run of success. Justin Verlander was the MVP and Cy Young winner in 2011, Cabrera took the MVP last season and Detroit ace Max Scherzer won this year’s Cy Young Award on Wednesday.

Cabrera clearly was baseball’s most dominant hitter for most of the season as the Tigers won their third straight AL Central crown.

But an assortment of injuries hobbled him down the stretch and into the playoffs, and he had surgery after the season to repair a groin tear. Cabrera is expected to be ready for spring training.

Voting for the BBWAA awards was done before the playoffs. Cabrera hit .262 with two homers and seven RBIs in 11 postseason games, and made a couple of key outs in Detroit’s six-game loss to Boston in the AL championship series.

Cabrera was in contention for a second straight Triple Crown for much of the year, and was hitting .359 with 43 homers and 130 RBI through Aug. 26. But injuries began to take their toll, and he managed only two extra-base hits in his next 25 games through the end of the regular season.

An eight-time All-Star, Cabrera missed several games after the break because of a bad back, a sore left flexor, a strain in his lower abdomen, shin trouble and the groin problem.

Despite the injuries, Cabrera became the first right-handed hitter to win three straight batting titles in either league since Rogers Hornsby in 1920-25.

Cabrera also kept amazing his teammates with his prowess at the plate.

In mid-August, he homered in all three games of a series at Yankee Stadium, twice connecting off career saves leader Mariano Rivera.

His shot in the opener was the most impressive, even though Detroit eventually lost. After fouling two balls off his left shin, Cabrera was having trouble standing in the batter’s box when he tagged Rivera for a tying, two-run drive with two outs in the ninth inning.

 

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