10/04/12 2:48 AM ET
Tigers witness Miggy's greatness firsthand
By Vinnie Duber / MLB.com
Prince Fielder wasn't joking. And after his teammate wrapped up baseball's first Triple Crown in 45 years on Wednesday night, you'd have to think twice before arguing.
For a couple of days, the Tigers knew history could be made in the final regular-season game. Cabrera picked up four hits -- including a home run -- on Monday and two more on Tuesday to put himself in solid position to capture what has eluded every big leaguer since Carl Yastrzemski's Triple Crown in 1967.
After Cabrera's march was complete, the Tigers stood in the visitors' clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium ready and willing to heap praise where it was due.
"It's unbelievable. It's great for baseball and it's great for the Detroit Tigers," said infielder Ramon Santiago. "Now the people can recognize him how he is, a superstar. Everybody knows who he is, but now that gives him a little more recognition all over the world. We're talking about 45 years. Amazing. You think about how many good players passed through the Major Leagues. That tells you how hard [it is to do]. It's unbelievable that he does that now with pitching like that."
"It's just unbelievable," said outfielder Austin Jackson, who plated the only run with a double in a 1-0 win over the Royals. "It's not every year you get to witness something like that. It was unbelievable to watch this year."
Fielder was particularly ecstatic for his teammate, and he constantly brought up Cabrera's move to third base that allowed Fielder to join the American League Central champion Tigers as their everyday first baseman. The two have been close all season, and Fielder is obviously very thankful.
"I wouldn't be able to be here to see this unless he gave me the chance," Fielder said. "I'm very happy and fortunate that he's the kind of guy he is. He didn't have to move anywhere. He just won the batting title, and that's Miguel Cabrera. If you don't want to do it, you don't have to do it. For him to do that for me to let me come here, it's an awesome feeling. I'm more than happy for him."
Fielder also pointed out that Cabrera -- despite leading the American League in batting average, homers and RBIs for a couple of days -- hadn't yet realized how momentous his accomplishment was.
"This guy is awesome," Fielder said. "He doesn't even know what he just did. It's unbelievable. That's what makes him such a great person. I don't think he really gets what just happened."
Fielder wasn't the only one pointing out that fact.
"I think some of us had to tell him how big of a deal this was," Tigers ace Justin Verlander said. "Obviously, he knew the significance of it, but I just don't think it set in for him. And I don't think it will. He's the best player on the planet."
Verlander and Fielder were part of a small group of players that joined Cabrera after his fourth-inning exit to watch other games in the clubhouse and make sure the stats lined up. The celebrations started shortly thereafter, and later in the game, the Royals flashed a congratulatory message on the scoreboard, earning Cabrera another standing ovation.
"That's when it was like, 'All right, now you can stop acting like you aren't going to win it,'" Fielder said.
After Cabrera came out of the game, Verlander made his own presentation to the third baseman, giving him a watch engraved "Congratulations Miguel Cabrera, 2012 AL Triple Crown." The defending AL MVP said he debated giving it as a personal gift or a team gift and that Fielder helped him settle on a personal one.
"I had the idea. I asked a couple guys what they thought: Should it be a team thing or from me personally? A couple guys said 'maybe just from you.' I didn't know which was the best route to go, so I got some advice, and Prince said 'It might be best if it's just from you.' I had it ordered and all set up and ready to go. After he came out of the game and it was a done deal is when I gave it to him," Verlander said.
"It feels great. It's like at Christmastime, some people like to give gifts more than they like to get them. Just to see him smile and be really appreciative -- we've been playing together for years now. It was just kind of a special moment between two guys that are friends and teammates."
Cabrera's teammates were appreciative, not just of his individual accomplishment, but what he means to the team as a whole.
"It just takes a magical season for it to happen, to come together, and he was able to do it this year," Verlander said. "We needed it. We didn't win this division by much, and we definitely wouldn't have without him."
"He deserved it," Jackson said. "He really worked hard this year, he does every year, but to see him go through his everyday routine and go out there and perform the way he did is unbelievable to watch."
Perhaps they are just as appreciative of an opportunity to have a front-row seat to a once-in-a-lifetime baseball occurrence.
"Every night you get to watch greatness. Every night I got to watch history," Fielder said. "It's unbelievable."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.