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Tigers' Cabrera in lineup for season finale

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm •  Published: October 3, 2012
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Whether it's on par with Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters, Jack Nicklaus' 18 major championships in golf, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak or Brett Favre's streak of consecutive games played by a quarterback is open to interpretation, and perhaps some bar-room debate.

Those who have witnessed it first-hand certainly have their opinions.

"It's pretty amazing," said the Royals' Alex Gordon, who's watched the drama unfold from his spot in left field. "Honestly, his numbers are like that every year. He has a great average, great home runs, great RBIs. He's a guy who can pull this off, and it's great for the game."

Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval said he was particularly proud that the Triple Crown would be accomplished by a fellow Venezuelan. Cabrera is from Maracay, along the Caribbean coast.

"I'm excited for the country and for the fans that support us every single day. It's a big deal in Venezuela right now," Sandoval said. "It's exciting, especially because of all the things that have happened in his career."

Yes, it seems that every fairytale these days carries a troublesome footnote.

In Cabrera's case, it stems from spring training last year, when he was involved in an ugly drunken driving incident. According to authorities in St. Lucie County, Fla., Cabrera refused to cooperate, directed an obscene gesture at police and even dared them to shoot him.

The Tigers have been careful to keep him from having to discuss his personal issues, but by all accounts, Cabrera has been a model player ever since. This year, he's the Tigers' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player "who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."

"This clubhouse wouldn't be quite as good without him," Leyland said.

While the Triple Crown appears all but assured, the MVP award is not.

On one hand, Cabrera is on the footstep of history, having dominated the major statistical categories favored by traditionalists, the ones that count toward the Triple Crown.

On the other hand, Trout is being championed by new-school baseball thought, number crunchers who rely on more obscure measures such as WAR (Wins Above Replacement), derived from several other statistics designed to judge a player's overall contribution to a team.

Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline said it would be "a shame" if Cabrera didn't win the league's most coveted award, while Royals manager Ned Yost offered a similar sentiment.

"I think they're both fantastic players, tremendous players, both of them," Yost said, "but if Cabrera wins the Triple Crown, he has to be the MVP, absolutely."


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