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 Tigers fans can vote Cabrera for Mr. Clutch

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PostSubject: Tigers fans can vote Cabrera for Mr. Clutch   Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:45 am

Tigers fans can vote Cabrera for Mr. Clutch
Slugger is among six candidates for this year's MLB award
By Jason Beck / MLB.com | 10/13/10 4:50 PM ET

While Tigers fans wait to see if Miguel Cabrera can beat out Josh Hamilton and Robinson Cano for American League MVP honors, they have an active voice in deciding whether Detroit's most valuable slugger walks off with the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Award.

Cabrera is one of six nominees for the honor, which is intended to recognize the player who consistently performed at his best when the game was on the line throughout the season. Cabrera is one of just two position players among the six finalists, joining Reds first baseman and National League MVP candidate Joey Votto.

Cabrera won't have to vie with Hamilton and Cano, but he'll have to compete vote-for-vote with aces Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia, plus closers Rafael Soriano and Brian Wilson.

Voting is ongoing at pepsiclutch.mlb.com, where fans can vote until 11:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 25. The winner, chosen exclusively through the online voting, will be announced the next day.

Tigers fans are clearly hoping it's Cabrera, whose offensive production outweighs his status as the only finalist whose team did not reach the postseason. All three previous winners of the award -- Alex Rodriguez in 2007, Sabathia in '08 and Andre Ethier in '09 -- played on teams that reached the postseason that year.

While injuries and inconsistency dropped the Tigers short of their goal for a playoff berth, they would've had a far worse fate without Cabrera in the middle of the order. Though Cabrera led the Majors with 126 RBIs to go with a .328 batting average -- second in the American League -- and 38 home runs, his splits reveal more about his clutch performances.

Cabrera's .322 batting average and .991 OPS with runners in scoring position this season were his best such numbers since joining the Tigers after the 2007 season. He hit just four home runs in those situations, but drove in 79 runs, thanks mainly to his 17 doubles.

In "Late and Close" situations, in this case the seventh inning or later in games with Tigers either tied, up a run or trailing with the potential tying run at least on deck, Cabrera was incredibly dangerous. He batted .367 in those situations with eight home runs and 30 RBIs, good for a 1.239 OPS. He didn't get many opportunities to bat with a runner on third and less than two out, but he made of the most of his chances by going 13-for-26 with eight sacrifice flies, 33 RBIs and just three strikeouts.

Cabrera was clutch enough that opponents increasingly chose to walk him rather than let him change the game. His 32 intentional walks fell just two off the AL record set in 1993 by John Olerud, the last AL player to draw at least 30 in a season. By contrast, the next-highest total in the AL was 14, reached by three different players.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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