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Tigers endorse Cabrera in MVP race

The Sports Xchange
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Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't ready to proclaim Miguel Cabrera the Most Valuable Player in the American League, but it's clear he likes his guy.

Cabrera hit a two-run, opposite-field home run Wednesday night to get Detroit started in a 7-1 victory over Cleveland, and he later added a sacrifice fly.

The night before, his two-run home run accounted for both Detroit runs in a 3-2 loss to the Indians. He pulled that ball to left.

Cabrera continues to awe his teammates with his hitting feats.

"He hits them to right field like I hit them to right field," said Alex Avila, who bats left-handed. "He's just an amazing all-around hitter. To me, it's not even a question. He's the MVP. Listen to the (home) crowd. They'll tell you."

Leyland said Wednesday, "He hits the ball to the opposite field like it's nothing. I've never seen anything like it.

"Maybe there's somebody out there who hit with power to the opposite field like he does, but I've never seen him. I don't think there's ever been anybody in the history of the game with power to the opposite field like he has."

Leyland has always said Barry Bonds was the best hitter he's ever managed, but Cabrera is clearly moving in that direction.

Leyland said he's not surprised at what Cabrera has done this year. When Victor Martinez got hurt and Detroit had a chance to get Prince Fielder's bat to replace him, the incumbent first baseman could have pouted and made a fuss. Instead, Cabrera embraced a move back across the diamond to third base.

"Moving to third, never batting an eyelash, and still put up the numbers he's put up -- that's amazing," Leyland said.

Avila said, "I've always said Miguel is the best hitter I've ever seen. I think that if he didn't have to hit home runs and drive in runs as much as he has to for our team, he could probably hit .400."

Were it not for a pair of early-season hitless streaks that went beyond 20 at-bats, Cabrera might have an excellent shot at becoming the first Triple Crown winner since the 1960s.

In 1966, Frank Robinson was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, ticked off that Cincinnati thought he might be starting a downhill slide, and he won the Triple Crown. The next year, Carl Yastrzemski did it for Boston. It hasn't happened since.

But Cabrera will enter the last three weeks of the season with a decent chance, if he stays hot.

Cabrera is tied for the AL batting lead at .330 (he's the defending champion), is tied for the RBI lead with 116 and is fourth with 35 home runs.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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