Miguel Cabrera: Detroit Tigers MVP Winners Slideshow
Miguel Cabrera Becomes Eighth Detroit Tiger to Win MVP
Miguel Cabrera won the American League MVP Award on Thursday night. Cabrera’s win marks back to back MVP trophies for the Detroit Tigers, after pitcher Justin Verlander took home the trophy in 2011. This marked the first time the Tigers had won the award back to back since the 1944/1945 seasons. Cabrera became the first non pitcher to win the award for the Tigers since 1940, when Hank Greenberg took home his second MVP trophy.
Overall, 8 different Detroit Tigers players have won the coveted MVP trophy. Two Tigers players won the trophy twice, marking a total of 10 MVPS handed out to players while in a Tigers uniform. Four of the Tigers to win the MVP are pitchers, while the other four are positional players.
The current MVP trophy has been given out since 1931. The award is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Currently, two writers from each MLB city are selected for the committee to vote for the players they think deserve the award. The committee switched to this format in 1961, when they decreased the number of writers that was previously set at 3 per city. Voting for the MVP trophy takes place prior to the MLB Playoffs. The winner is announced months after the season is over.
Barry Bonds holds the record with seven MVP trophies. Nine players have won the trophy three times, while a total of 19 players are repeat winners. New York Yankees rank first with 22 MVP trophies won, while the St. Louis Cardinals rank second with 17.
Miguel Cabrera: 2012 MVP
Miguel Cabrera won the award in a close contest against Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout. Trout put up impressive numbers offensively, defensively, and around the bases. This sparked an old school vs. new school debate for MLB fans and analysts. Ultimately Cabrera beat Trout with a 362 to 281 point victory. Cabrera received 22 of 28 total first place votes, while the other 6 went to the rookie Trout.
Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, by finishing first in American League batting average (.330), home runs (44) and runs batted in (139). In his nine year career, Cabrera has hit an average of .318, while hitting 321 home runs and 1123 RBIs.
Justin Verlander: 2011 MVP
Justin Verlander won the AL MVP in 2011, the same year he won the Cy Young Award. The Detroit Tigers ace completed the AL Triple Crown, placing first in wins (24), strikeouts (250) and ERA (2.40). During the season, Verlander pitched his second career no-hitter, giving up just one walk in a near perfect game. Verlander also ranked first in the AL in innings pitched (251) and win percentage (83%).
In the MVP race, Verlander beat out Jacob Ellsbury with a score of 280 to 242. Verlander received 13 of 28 possible first place votes. With his MVP and Cy Young, Verlander became the first pitcher to win both trophies since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. It was also the first time a starting pitcher won both awards since Roger Clemens in 1986. The Cy Young was unanimously won by Verlander with a perfect 28 first place votes.
Verlander finished second in Cy Young voting in 2012 and continues to be the Tigers number one pitcher. The first round pick of the Tigers holds a career 124-65 record with 1454 strikeouts.
Willie Hernandez: 1984 MVP
Willie Hernandez, born in Puerto Rico, won the 1984 MVP and a World Series with the Detroit Tigers. The screwball pitcher is one of only four relief pitchers to win the MVP, with Jim Konstanty, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley the others.
In 1984, Hernandez posted a 9-3 record with 32 saves in 33 attempts. Hernandez struck out 112 batters in 140 innings and posted a 1.92 ERA. On the season, batters struggled against Hernandez. The Tigers pitcher only gave up 6 home runs, 30 total runs, and 96 total hits against batters all season. Hernandez’s 1984 effort was enough to beat out Kent Hrbek for the MVP and also win the AL Cy Young award.
Hernandez also played for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies. In his career, Hernandez was 70-63 with 147 saves and 788 strikeouts.
Denny McLain: 1968 MVP
Denny McLain won the MVP in 1968 while a member of the Detroit Tigers. In his 10 MLB seasons, McLain pitched for the Tigers, Washington Senators, Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves. The Tigers claimed the pitcher off of waivers, after the Chicago White Sox left him in the minors for too long.
In 1968, McLain won the MVP and Cy Young awards for his outstanding season. With a 31-6 record, McLain became the first 30 win pitcher since 1934. McLain posted a 1.96 ERA during the season. McLain became the first pitcher to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season. McLain won the Cy Young again in 1969.
The former Tigers pitcher was involved in criminal activities and bookmaking that have hurt his playing career and reputation.
With most MLB teams utilizing a five man rotation, the 30 win mark might never be seen again. Two pitchers have hit 27 wins since McLain (Steve Carlton 1972, Bob Welch 1990).
Hal Newhouser: 1944, 1945 MVP
Hal Newhouser was the second Detroit Tiger to win multiple MVP awards. The Tigers pitcher won the award in back to back years starting with 1944. Newhouser pitched for the Tigers from 1939-1953 and would also pitch for the Cleveland Indians in 1954-1955.
The 1944 season saw Newhouser the beneficiary of an ineligibility of being drafted for World War II. Newhouser’s leaky heart valve kept the pitcher in the United States. With a 29-9 record, 187 strikeouts, and a 2.22 ERA, Newhouser won the MVP.
In 1945, Newhouser put up even more impressive numbers and won the AL pitching Triple Crown. Newhouser led the league in wins (25), ERA (1.81), and strikeouts (212). The Tigers pitcher also led the league in games started, innings pitched, complete games and shutouts.
Amazingly enough, Newhouser almost won three MVPs in a row. The Tigers pitcher lost in 1946, but finished runner-up to Ted Williams. Newhouser posted an impressive 26-9 record, with a 1.94 ERA. Newhouser remains the only pitcher to win the MVP in back-to-back seasons.
In his career, Newhouser posted a 207-150 record, with a 3.06 ERA and 1796 strikeouts. In 1992, the Veteran’s Committee selected Newhouser for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Newhouser became a MLB scout later for several teams. While a scout with the Houston Astros, Newhouser recommended taking Derek Jeter in the MLB Draft. The Astros passed on Jeter, and ultimately Newhouser quit for them not taking his advice.
Hank Greenberg: 1935, 1940 MVP
Hank Greenberg is one of two Detroit Tigers players to win two MVP awards. The Tiger known as “Hammerin’ Hank” and “The Hebrew Hammer” won the award in 1935 and 1940. Lucky for the Tigers, Greenberg turned down a deal from the New York Yankees in 1929. Greenberg played with the Tigers in 1930, 1933-1941, and 1945-1946. Greenberg also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947.
In 1935, Greenberg led the league in several categories, which likely won the award for him. Greenberg’s RBIs (170), total bases (389), extra base hits (98) and home runs (36) totals all ranked highest in the AL. Greenberg’s batting average of .328 was seventh highest for the season. All of the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America selected Greenberg as their first pick for MVP. Greenberg’s 107 RBIs before the All-Star break is still a MLB record.
Greenberg’s second MVP came in 1940. The Tigers slugger once again led the league in several categories, including: RBIs (150), home runs (41), doubles (50), total bases (384), extra base hits (99) and slugging percentage (.670). Greenberg hit .340 on the season. With his MVP win, Greenberg became the first MLB player to win the award at two different positions.
Greenberg was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956, after receiving 85% of the vote on his 8th ballot. The Tigers have retired the #5 that Greenberg wore during his playing career.
Charlie Gehringer: 1937 MVP
Charlie Gehringer, known as “The Mechanical Man”, won the MVP award in 1937. The Tigers slugger was a member of the team for 19 seasons. After attending the University of Michigan to play baseball and basketball, Gehringer was eventually signed by Ty Cobb, who served as a mentor to the young player.
In 1937, Gehringer won the AL batting title with a .371 average. Gehringer’s .358 on base percentage ranked second in the league. Gehringer also had 209 hits and 133 runs during the season. Although he only won the award once, Gehringer finished in the top ten voting for the award for 7 seasons. In 1934, Gehringer lost to teammate Mickey Cochrane by a slim two points.
Gehringer holds a career batting average of .320 with 2839 hits and 1427 RBIs. The 7068 assists picked up by Gehringer during his career rank second all time among second basemen.
In 1949, Gehringer was elected to the Hall of Fame, receiving 85% of votes. The #2 worn by Gehringer has since been retired, and a statue is outside of Comerica Park honoring him.
Mickey Cochrane: 1934 MVP
Mickey Cochrane became the first Detroit Tiger to win the modern day MVP award. Cochrane was one of the most successful catchers in all of baseball and Tigers history. Cochrane played in Detroit from 1934-1937 and also served as the team’s manager from 1934-1938.
In 1934, Cochrane found himself sold to the Detroit Tigers. In his first year as a Tiger, Cochrane won the MVP, beating out Triple Crown winner Lou Gehrig.
Cochrane was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947. The former Tiger received 79.5% of vote as a fifth year ballot candidate. Cochrane held the record for highest career batting average (.320) by a catcher until Joe Mauer passed it in 2009. His career .419 on base percentage still ranks first for all catchers. A street outside of the old Tiger Stadium featured Cochrane street to honor the former Tiger. Mickey Mantle was named after the legendary Tigers catcher.