Fans have chosen Detroit’s Athlete of the Year: Miguel Cabrera

In 2012, Miguel Cabrera became baseball’s first triple crown winner in 45 years and was named American League Most Valuable Player.

The numbers are in and the choice was unanimous: Detroit’s Athlete of the Year is Miguel Cabrera.

In a poll posted on the Detroit Athletic Company’s Facebook page, more than 500 voters chimed in to select the best Detroit athlete of 2012. Cabrera won in overwhelming fashion, earning more than 70% of the vote.

Honorable mentions go to Justin Verlander, last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player. His name was mentioned in this year’s class of Cy Young contenders, and he might’ve won again had it not been for lack of run support.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson had good years in an otherwise disappointing season for the Lions. After making the playoffs last year for the first time in a decade, the Lions’ faithful had high hopes for 2012. But alas, it was not to be, despite Stafford’s numbers—his fourth quarter quarterback rating was at or near the top for much of the season—while Johnson currently ranks second in the NFL in receptions 106, first in total yards 1,667, and first in receiving yards per game 119.1.

Kyle Singler’s name is mentioned here, too. To say the first year Detroit Piston is having a good season is an understatement. According to win shares, a measure of a player’s contributions, Singler currently ranks no. 2, behind Portland’s Damian Lillard, who leads all rookies. No. 3 is fellow Piston, Andre Drummond. Combined, Singler and Drummond have a chance to give Detroit multiple all-rookie first-team players for the first time since Isiah Thomas and Kelly Tripucka in 1981-82. Not bad company to keep.

But when it came down to it, Triple Crown (the first Triple Crown winner in more than 40 years), MVP (received 22 of the 28 first-place votes), and Hitter of the Year (Greatness in Baseball Yearly [GIBBY]) Award were too much for the other nominees to overcome. Miguel Cabrera deserves to be hailed as Detroit’s Athlete of the Year, and the moniker is not perhaps as misleading as it might sound.

When we think of athletes, we often think of athleticism. Brandon Inge was, arguably, the most athletic Tiger of the last decade; but he was not a ballplayer blessed with the talent with which Cabrera possesses. At six feet, four inches and 240 pounds, Cabrera doesn’t possess the classic baseball physique of, say, Derek Jeter; but last season, when the game was on the line, there was no one else the Tigers faithful wanted to see step up to the plate. Quite simply, his numbers were off the charts in many offensive categories:

  • .330 batting average (1st in AL)
  • 44 home runs (1st in AL)
  • 139 RBI (1st in AL)
  • 109 runs scored (2nd in AL)
  • .606 SLG (1st in AL)
  • .999 OPS (1st in AL)

Throughout the season, with runners on base and two outs, Cabrera posted a monster 1.201 OPS, while in games that were late and close (7th inning or later, score within one run), Cabrera’s OPS was 1.040 and he hit at a .337 clip. Furthermore, in the final three frames, Cabrera boasted a slash line of .326/.403/.657.

Congratulations, Miguel Cabrera, on being selected the Detroit Athletic Co.’s Athlete of the Year, and thanks to our Facebook fans for helping us select the winner.

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About J. Conrad Guest

J. Conrad Guest is the author of The Cobb Legacy, Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings, and other novels. He resides in Northville. Visit him at www.jconradguest.com.