FRANK TALK: Don't try to talk sabermetrics with Frank Robinson. When he won the Triple Crown in 1966, he was the MVP. And he thinks Miguel Cabrera deserves the same honor.
The Hall of Fame slugger weighed in on the AL MVP debate Wednesday after throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Game 3 of the St. Louis Cardinals-Washington Nationals series. While new-age stat-heads might favor Angels rookie Mike Trout, Robinson is definitely old school about Cabrera's .330 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs with the Detroit Tigers.
"Guys have had a good year, Trout especially," Robinson said. "But I don't see how an individual can play on a winning ballclub and get his team into a series trying to get into the World Series and win a Triple Crown — and not be the MVP of the league."
Robinson's impressive feat was repeated in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski, but baseball then went 45 years without a Triple Crown winner before Cabrera pulled it off.
"I'm really happy for him because I think people take the Triple Crown for granted really, take it too lightly," Robinson said. "I think it's the most outstanding thing an individual player as a hitter can do. It's not an easy thing. I don't know of anybody who went into spring training and said, 'I'm going to win the Triple Crown.' You can't do that."
"What bugs me is when people start hollering in April about a guy leading the league in all three and they say, 'What do you think his chances are?' And I tell them: 'Slim and none and slim left town and none passed away.' You don't start thinking about Triple Crown until early or mid-September."
THE CUT-OFF MAN: Reds pitching coach Bryan Price was clean-shaven when he showed up at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, deciding he'd paid off his no-hitter debt.
Price started growing a mustache after Homer Bailey threw the franchise's 15th no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, making good on a vague promise from spring training.
"I don't remember it," Price said. "I'm sure I said something in spring training that if any of you incompetents can potentially, somehow throw a no-hitter, I would grow a mustache or something like that. Obviously, all in jest."
That's not how the players took it. Bailey clearly remembered it.
"After he was mobbed by his teammates, that's the first thing he said to me on the field in Pittsburgh," Price said.
Price let the hair on his lip grow, acknowledging he looked a little "ridiculous" with it. He did an interview for Bailey's start against the Giants in Game 3 on Tuesday night, then got rid of the new look.
"I honored it, going on national television with a mustache in a game that Homer pitched, and once he got done with it, I couldn't get it off fast enough," Price said.
FOR STARTERS: After going 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts, Brian Matusz was demoted to the minors in midseason by the Orioles. When he returned in late August, he blossomed into one of baseball's best left-hander relievers, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA.
Coming out of the bullpen, Matusz held left-handed hitters to a .179 average (5 for 28) and righties to 0 for 16.
Still, his stay in the 'pen could be a brief one.
"Brian will more than likely go in the spring as a starter," manager Brian Showalter said Wednesday. "We think he can go back and do this, but he needs to get his innings. It was also a carrot for him to come back to the big leagues, so there was a lot of want-to there."
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