Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey run away with MVP awards
Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion finished 11th in AL race
Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was named the American League Most Valuable Player on Thursday.
Cabrera, who became the first player to win the Triple Crown in 45 years, received 22 of 28 first-place votes and 362 points from the AL panel of Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Despite a stellar rookie season that culminated in being named AL rookie of the year, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout did not come as close in the MVP race as some had expected.
Cabrera's victory sets off fireworks
When the AL MVP award went to Miguel Cabrera on Thursday, it was a big hit back home.
Jose Torres, one of Cabrera's uncles in Venezuela, said he celebrated by setting off fireworks in the working-class neighborhood where the Detroit Tigers' slugger grew up in the city of Maracay.
"When the neighbors heard the fireworks, they came out of their house to celebrate with us," Torres told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Caracas.
Cabrera, baseball's first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, also became the first Venezuelan player to be chosen MVP in the major leagues.
Torres said he had fully expected his nephew to win, "but baseball can bring surprises, so while waiting we were a little nervous."
He said Cabrera's mother gave him the news after her son called her from Miami. Torres, who still coaches kids on the field where Cabrera once practiced, said: "It was so exciting. We're very happy."
At a baseball game in Caracas on Thursday night, a crowd of about 15,000 applauded enthusiastically and blew horns after Cabrera's selection was announced over the loudspeakers.
"It's very great joy for Miguel, for Venezuela," said Luisa Tunez, one of the fans at the game, which pitted top rivals Leones against Navegantes in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.
Tunez recalled Cabrera's struggles with alcohol, saying the award shows he's been able to overcome such troubles. She and other Venezuelans often refer to him affectionately as "Cabrerita," or little Cabrera.
"Cabrerita showed that when we focus on something positive, we're capable of lifting ourselves up and winning," Tunez said. In a message on his Twitter account, Cabrera said: "This MVP was for the fans in Detroit and Venezuela. Support from God, my family, and teammates made it possible."
— The Associated Press
The 21-year-old centre-fielder received just six first-place votes for a total of 281 points. Trout hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs following his call-up from the minors in late April.
Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre finished third in voting with 210 points, while New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano received 149 points and Texas Rangers outfielder and 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton had 127 points.
Shortly after the announcement, Cabrera tweeted: "This MVP was for the fans in Detroit and Venezuela. Support from God, my family, and teammates made it possible."
Justin Verlander, Cabrera's teammate in Detroit and the 2011 winner, also shared his thoughts on Twitter: "Best player in baseball...THE MVP @MiguelCabrera #calleditinapril."
Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs to become the first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The last four Triple Crown winners have been voted MVP, including Mickey Mantle in 1956 and Frank Robinson in 1966.
Cabrera also led the league with a .606 slugging percentage for the AL champion Tigers and becomes the first Venezuelan to earn the honour.
Before the season, he switched from first base to third to make way for Prince Fielder, signing as a free agent.
Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones, New York shortstop Derek Jeter, Detroit pitcher Verlander and first baseman Prince Fielder, as well as Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes rounded out the Top 10 vote-getters.
Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who was fourth in the majors with 42 home runs, finished 11th in voting with 33 points.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols didn't finish among the Top 10 for the first time in his career.
Posey takes the NL MVP
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey was named the National League Most Valuable Player.
Posey, who led his Giants to a World Series title this season and was the first catcher in 70 years to win the league's batting title, finished with 27 of 32 first-place votes and 422 total points.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, received three first-place votes and 285 points to finish in second place.
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina got the other two first-place votes, but finished fourth in voting with 241 points, behind Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen who had 245 points.
San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley received 127 total points.
The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, Posey set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBIs for the World Series champion Giants. His 2011 season was cut short by a collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25 that resulted in a fractured bone in Posey's lower left leg and three torn ankle ligaments.
Posey, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, won the NL batting title after teammate Melky Cabrera requested a rules change that disqualified him. Cabrera, who hit .346, missed the final 45 games of the regular-season while serving a suspension for a positive testosterone test and would have won the batting crown if the rule hadn't been changed.
MVP catchers a rarity
Ernie Lombardi had been the previous catcher to capture the NL batting championship, in 1942.
Catchers have won the NL MVP just eight times, with Posey joining Gabby Hartnett (1935), Lombardi (1938), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953, 1955) and Johnny Bench (1970, 1972). The other winning catchers were Lombardi in 1938 and Gabby Hartnett in 1935.
Posey is the first Giants player to win since Barry Bonds was voted his record seventh MVP award in 2004.
Mets third baseman David Wright, Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, who received one second-place vote, Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce rounded out the Top 10 vote-getters.
Canadian Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds finished tied with NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey of the Mets for 14th in voting with 16 overall points.
With files from The Associated Press