11/18/08 2:55 PM EST
Cabrera earns MVP mention
AL home run leader finishes 13th in award voting
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
After earning a league home run title in his first season in the AL, Detroit's young, slugging first baseman powered his way onto the MVP list. Cabrera finished 13th among the 23 players who received votes for the honor, which was awarded to Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Cabrera received seven votes in all -- one each for sixth and eighth place, four for ninth, and one for 10th -- among the 28 ballots cast by designated members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Under the scoring system, Cabrera's 17 points ranked him just ahead of Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, while trailing Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee for 12th place.
It wasn't nearly the vote total that Magglio Ordonez earned last year, when he finished second to Alex Rodriguez. For a team that finished in last place, however, it was better than expected. All 12 players who ranked ahead of him played on teams that finished in third place or better in their division. Josh Hamilton was the only player receiving more votes while playing on a team that finished with a losing record.
Earlier this month, Detroit's chapter of the BBWAA overwhelmingly voted Cabrera as the Tiger of the Year after he became the team's first home run champion since Cecil Fielder did it in 1991. His 37 home runs beat out Chicago's injured Carlos Quentin in the season's final week for the honor, to go with a .292 batting average, 36 doubles and 127 RBIs.
"He's one of the premier players in the game at a very young age," manager Jim Leyland said at season's end. "We're very fortunate to have him. That's pretty impressive from where he came from after a slow start."
Cabrera became the Tigers' unquestioned offensive force down the stretch after joining the Tigers in the eight-player megadeal with the Marlins at last year's Winter Meetings. He faced a huge amount of pressure from the outset between the trade, the team's extraordinarily high expectations and the eight-year, $152.3 million contract he signed in the final week of Spring Training.
Those pressures seemed to weigh on him early in the season as the Tigers and Cabrera struggled in tandem. Though Cabrera hit respectably over the first two months, his run production was off from his previous years in Florida, where he drove in at least 112 runs in all four of his full Major League seasons to go with three 30-homer campaigns and three years with at least a .320 batting average and .946 OPS.
He made up the gap and then some over the final three months. A position switch from third to first base, a late warm-up in Detroit from a cold spring and an ability to finally shrug off his burdens allowed Cabrera to emerge over the summer.
Cabrera's 331 total bases tied for the AL lead with Hamilton. His RBI total ranked third in the league, while his 75 extra-base hits placed him fifth and his .537 slugging percentage stood seventh.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.