Fellow AL MVP candidate Trout calls Cabrera 'best hitter in the game'
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weren't the only one on the edge of your seat during Miguel Cabrera's pursuit of a historic Triple Crown.
Players, managers and officials across Major League Baseball were tuned in to his at-bats and keeping tabs on his season, as Cabrera finished with a .330 average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs to lead the American League in all three categories.
In the wake of Cabrera becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, the rest of baseball reacted.
"It is an honor to congratulate Miguel Cabrera on earning the Triple Crown, a remarkable achievement that places him amongst an elite few in all of baseball history," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Miguel has long been one of the most accomplished hitters in the game, and this recognition is one that he will be able to cherish for the rest of his career in baseball and beyond."
Cabrera's peers had similar reactions.
"We get a close view of him being in our division, and he's one of a handful of guys who can do it," said Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who remained a threat to Cabrera's batting average title until the final week of the season. "It's pretty awesome."
Cabrera's historic season coincided with a similarly outstanding campaign for Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout. It has sparked a heated debate over which player should earn AL MVP honors.
But even Trout can appreciate what Cabrera accomplished in 2012.
"When he's at the plate, he can do anything," Trout said. "I mean, he's the best hitter in the game, I think. His approach, the way he battles with two strikes. You leave one pitch over the plate, he's going to hit it. He had an unbelievable year."
Trout's division rival, Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, agreed, and he added that he thinks Cabrera should take home the award.
"Come on, it's the Triple Crown," said Hamilton, who finished second to Cabrera in homers and RBIs. "It hasn't been done in how many years? If he doesn't win Most Valuable Player, I'm going to have to quit baseball. Mike Trout -- Rookie of the Year. Cabrera -- Most Valuable Player. Just how infrequently it happens tells you the value of it. I'm excited about it. It's good for the game, it's good for Miguel, it's good for the Tigers, it's good for baseball, period."
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, who figures to challenge in all three categories in the National League for years to come, echoed Hamilton's sentiment.
"He's the MVP, dude, and I know I'm biased, because he's my favorite player," Kemp said. "It's just amazing what he can do. Believe it or not, I think he's underrated. I mean, people see the numbers, but the players know how hard it is to do what he can do. One of the best hitters ever."
Cabrera joined Yastrzemski and Baltimore's Frank Robinson, who won the Triple Crown in 1966, as the only three living Triple Crown winners.
Both Yastrzemski and Robinson, who is MLB's executive vice president for baseball development, were more than willing to welcome Cabrera into the elite club.
Said Yastrzemski: "I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Miguel Cabrera on winning the Triple Crown. I am glad that he accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title."
Said Robinson: "I congratulate Miguel Cabrera on winning the Triple Crown. Miguel has been outstanding all year long by coming to play every day, showing his discipline at the plate and making the most of his great talent. ... For Miguel, I am sure it was even more challenging, given all the specialized relievers in the game today."
Even the Kansas City Royals, Cabrera's opponent as he sealed the Triple Crown, were in awe.
"It's extremely difficult to do, to be the complete hitter, to be a run producer in terms of RBIs, to be a power hitter in terms of home runs and then to lead the league in average," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I don't know when the next time we'll see it happen again."
Said designated hitter Billy Butler: "Whenever you're watching him, you're watching him as a fan, even me going up against him. Of course, we want to get him out and everything like that, but you just realize that guy's really good. You just become a fan watching him because he's so good."
Pittsburgh's NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen got into the conversation, pointing out the protection Cabrera had in the Tigers' batting order. He also added that he feels Cabrera is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves.
"That's what happens when you have somebody like Prince Fielder backing you up," McCutchen said of Cabrera's protection in the order. "But on top of that, he's been doing it his entire career, people just haven't noticed. [He's] been one of the most consistent hitters in his career. His power numbers, RBIs, average are always there. He's just the type of player that can spark a lineup, and he's done it every single year and is finally starting to get some credit for it."
White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko agreed, stating bluntly who he thought should take home the AL MVP award.
"He's the best in the world right now," Konerko said. "There's no question about that."