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Senior Baseball Columnist

Weekend Buzz: It's close, but Cabrera takes MVP over phenom Trout

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Scott Miller says Buster Posey edges out Yadier Molina for NL MVP. (US Presswire)  
Scott Miller says Buster Posey edges out Yadier Molina for NL MVP. (US Presswire)  

The Weekend Buzz while you were paging through the dictionary looking up these words folks are calling each other in the fierce Miguel Cabrera-Mike Trout AL MVP debate. Whatever happened to civil disagreement, I don't know. But I do know how the awards should go. ...

AL MVP: 1.Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. 2. Mike Trout, Angels. 3. Adrian Beltre, Rangers. 4. Josh Hamilton, Rangers. 5. Adam Jones, Orioles. 6. Robinson Cano, Yankees. 7. Prince Fielder, Tigers. 8. Derek Jeter, Yankees. 9. Alex Rios, White Sox. 10. Ben Zobrist, Rays.

You can dissect this more ways than a biology class frog, and when you're finished, I guarantee only one thing: You'll come away with more blood on your hands on this. Cabrera and Trout are such different players. Far as I'm concerned there is no wrong answer here, they each deserve an MVP award. But you've gotta pick one, and based on the most dangerous bat in the game and season-long production, Cabrera is the choice here.

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His Triple Crown chances in these final days notwithstanding, Cabrera keeps opposing managers awake nights and rival pitchers on high alert. Nobody -- including Trout -- has carried his club all season like Cabrera, who, into Sunday, was hitting .342 with 36 homers, 36 doubles and 114 RBI over 127 games since May 10.

Trout, during the Angels' most recent nine-game homestand against the Rangers, White Sox and Mariners, batted only .167 with six runs scored, nine walks, 11 strikeouts and two steals. This is not to attempt to diminish Trout, who is sensational (and especially was in June and July). It is simply looking at the entire picture. Trout was not with the Angels in April, and Torii Hunter has been their best player in September. Trout has had his worst overall month in September, batting .255/369/.436 with five steals.

Maybe the best testament to Trout is this: Even given that, he's still right there with Cabrera in this MVP debate ... and, depending on perspective and how you value things, quite possibly ahead of him. Trout on Sunday became the first rookie ever to produce at least 30 homers and 40 steals. And he's the first player in history with 45 steals, 30 homers and 125 runs scored in a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. If it's a Player of the Year award, I go Trout. But if you include both April and September, it is Cabrera -- barely -- who encompasses the word valuable in its totality for all six months.

NL MVP: 1. Buster Posey, Giants. 2. Yadier Molina, Cardinals. 3. Ryan Braun, Brewers. 4. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates. 5. David Wright, Mets. 6. Chase Headley, Padres. 7. Joey Votto, Reds. 8. Michael Bourn, Braves, 9. Matt Holliday, Cardinals. 10. Craig Kimbrel, Braves.

No, Braun is not third as some sort of penalty for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs after he won last year's NL MVP award. The temptation was there right up until the end to slot him first. Except ... two catchers have had extraordinary seasons themselves this summer, at the most important position on the field. And based especially on his defensive metrics, I'm still not sure I'm doing the right thing by slotting Molina second instead of first.

The choice is Posey based on the overall package, including his league-leading .410 on-base percentage (into Sunday), his 100 RBI, the fact that he's on the verge of winning a batting title (.337) in Melky Cabrera's vapor trail and his work behind the plate. It is no coincidence that the Giants won a World Series in 2010 with Posey in the lineup as a rookie ... failed to make the playoffs last season with him on the shelf ... and now are running away with the NL West with his return.

AL Cy Young: 1. Justin Verlander, Tigers. 2. David Price, Rays. 3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners. 4. Jered Weaver, Angels. 5. Fernando Rodney, Rays.

Here's the thing that separates Verlander from the pack: He's thrown an AL-leading 238 1/3 innings -- 27 1/3 more than Price -- and owns a lower opponents' batting average, an ERA that's right there with Price's (2.56 for Price, 2.64 for Verlander) and has fanned 34 more hitters. Angels manager Mike Scioscia stumped hard for Jered Weaver (20-4, 2.73) the other day, and great as Weaver is, he just didn't carry the workload of others this year. Having missed time on the disabled list with a back strain, Weaver is at 187 2/3 innings pitched, more than 50 behind Verlander and nearly 40 behind Hernandez. Nobody combines heavy workload with dominating results the way Verlander does, still. And for a division-winning team (well, it's a matter of a day or two for the Tigers), that's no small thing. It's why teams win division titles.

NL Cy Young: 1. R.A. Dickey, Mets. 2. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals. 3. Craig Kimbrel, Braves. 4. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. 5. Aroldis Chapman, Reds.

Look who's going to have to set aside time this winter to write an additional chapter to rush into paperback editions of his tremendous book Wherever I Wind Up. Dickey's fairy tale continues with a wonderful season that has him leading the NL in innings pitched (227 2/3), strikeouts (222), shutouts (three) and second in ERA (2.69). Props to Gonzalez (.206 opponents batting average is best in NL), Kimbrel (42 saves and a sick 16.6 strikeouts per nine innings), Kershaw (NL-leading 2.58 ERA, second in strikeouts at 221 and with 219 2/3 innings pitched) and Chapman. And by the way, I still think Dickey should have been Tony La Russa's choice to start the All-Star Game this summer.

AL Manager of the Year: 1. Buck Showalter, Orioles. 2. Bob Melvin, Athletics. 3. Robin Ventura, White Sox.

Biggest question for Showalter in what might be his best season of managing yet: Can he maneuver the Orioles into a World Series before his work is done in Baltimore? Poor guy managed the Yankees from 1992-1995, pushing them right to the edge of greatness before Joe Torre took over and won it all in 1996. He managed the Diamondbacks from 1998-2000, pushing them right to the edge of greatness before Bob Brenly took over and won it all in 2001. Then he managed the Rangers from 2003-2006 before ... well, history has shown him to be a great skipper who has needed a closer. Maybe things will finish differently in Baltimore. Here's a toast to Showalter, as smart a baseball man as there is. And to Melvin and Ventura, too.

NL Manager of the Year: 1. Davey Johnson, Nationals. 2. Dusty Baker, Reds. 3. Bruce Bochy, Giants.

Last time Johnson won the Manager of the Year award, he faxed his directive to Orioles owner Peter Angelos to take this job and shove it. That was 1997, and the Orioles haven't been the same until this year. Talk about a delicious potential World Series match-up -- Johnson's Nationals against Angelos' Orioles? Mmmmm.

AL Rookie of the Year: 1. Mike Trout, Angels. 2. Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics. 3. Yu Darvish, Rangers.

Any wonder why many people think the AL West lapped the AL East as baseball's roughest division this summer?

NL Rookie of the Year: 1. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks. 2. Todd Frazier, Reds. 3. Bryce Harper, Nationals.

Miley has been an absolute revelation this year for the Diamondbacks, checking in with nearly 200 innings pitched, a 3.32 ERA and 16 wins. Frazier prevented catastrophe in Cincinnati when Joey Votto missed several weeks with a knee injury. Harper leads all NL rooks in total bases. Wish there was a spot for Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso.

AL Executive of the Year: 1. Billy Beane, Athletics. 2. Dan Duquette, Orioles. 3. Jon Daniels, Rangers.

How in the world could a guy trade Gio Gonzalez, who is in the thick of the NL Cy Young discussions, 2010 All-Star Trevor Cahill, who worked 200 innings in Arizona this summer, and closer Andrew Bailey ... and still build one of the best teams in all of baseball? All hail ... again ... Beane. The A's are winning with 14 rookies on their roster, 18 used this season and Brad Pitt warming up in the bullpen (he is, isn't he? Can anyone say "Sequel"?). Duquette has worked wonders in Baltimore, too, but he had a pretty good head start from Andy MacPhail.

NL Executive of the Year: 1. Mike Rizzo, Nationals. 2. Walt Jocketty, Reds. 3. Frank Wren, Braves.

That the Nats are poised to play the first playoff game in Washington, D.C. since 1933 is one of the more significant developments in baseball in years. Jocketty's Mat Latos trade last winter was spot-on. Wren provided a clinic in how to handle a September meltdown and still thrive a year later (take notes, Red Sox, lots of notes).

30-second rewind

Here's how I saw it coming out of spring training (and tell me, where else are you going to get somebody to drag all of these predictions skeletons out of the closet each September like I do?!):

AL East: Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, Orioles.

You bet I picked a surprise team to compete in this division. Except, ah, um. ...

AL Central: Tigers, Royals, Indians, Twins, White Sox.

As I told Sox GM Kenny Williams a couple of weeks ago, it's hard work maneuvering Chicago into contention. See, back in '05, I picked them toward the bottom of the AL Central ... and they won the World Series, which had the effect of causing a close friend of mine who is a lifelong Sox fan to beg me each year to pick the Sox last. His theory: My predictions are so off that when I pick the Sox to win, they'll be awful, and when I pick them to be awful, they'll be very good. So ... happy to do my part in what has been a very good Sox season.

AL West: Rangers, Angels, Mariners, Athletics.

Who knew what the A's could do? I'll take kudos for picking the Rangers to win a third straight AL West title (if they can hang on this week!), thank you very much.

AL wild card: Angels, Blue Jays.

I meant Orioles, not Blue Jays. I swear.

NL East: Phillies, Marlins, Nationals, Braves, Mets

Gotta say, I resemble a broken-down Ryan Howard in picking this division.

NL Central: Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, Pirates, Cubs, Astros.

Totally nailed the Pirates finishing fourth.

NL West: Giants, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres

So I wind up correctly picking four division winners, if the Tigers and Yankees hold on over these last three days. But the way the Orioles are going, I'm not marking that in pen.

NL wild card: Marlins, Diamondbacks

I blame Ozzie Guillen.

AL MVP: Robinson Cano, Yankees.

Still think this guy will win an MVP before he's done.

NL MVP: Matt Kemp, Dodgers.

Was counting on him playing six months with two good hamstrings. Oops.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Tigers.

Will give myself credit for this one.

NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum

Forget the Cy. Question now is whether he'll even pitch in the Giants' postseason rotation.

AL Manager: John Farrell, Blue Jays

Maybe I'll pick him again next spring as AL manager of year with Red Sox.

NL Manager: Bruce Bochy, Giants.

Close, and you can make a case for him.

AL Comeback Player of the Year: Joe Mauer, Twins.

Not bad, given that Mauer may win another batting title. But the correct answer is Adam Dunn of the White Sox.

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Buster Posey, Giants.

Bingo.

World Series: Tigers over Giants.

It could be ... it might be. ...

Hope you've had a terrific summer. See you over these final three days and on into the playoffs. Giddyup!

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