by Bo Mitchell
The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants are getting set to square off in the 2012 World Series, and each team is led by one of its league’s top candidates for Most Valuable Player.
Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers won the first Triple Crown in either league in 45 years, but he faces stiff competition in the balloting for AL MVP from Angels rookie wonder Mike Trout. In the National League, the Giants’ Buster Posey led all major leaguers in hitting but figures to be challenged in the MVP voting by a host of candidates, including Ryan Braun of the Brewers and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates.
We’ll find out whether Cabrera or Posey (or both) are their league’s respective MVPs when the announcements are made on Nov. 15, but before that we’ll find out which one of their teams has won the Fall Classic.
You might be surprised to learn how often a major league player has had the best of both worlds, the ultimate in individual and team achievement: winning the MVP and the World Series in the same season.
As you can see in the infographic above, a player has won the MVP award and World Series in the same season 38 times (19 times in each league) since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America started handing out MVP hardware in 1931.
But it hasn’t happened for a long time.
The last time an NL MVP won a World Championship was 1988, when Kirk Gibson won the MVP and then led his Dodgers to a memorable, fist-pumping victory over the A’s in the World Series. In the AL, it’s been 28 years since Tigers closer Willie Hernandez took home AL MVP honors and then helped his team beat the Padres in the 1984 World Series.
Triple Crown winners in the World Series
Cabrera is the fourth straight Triple Crown winner to play in the World Series. Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967, but his Red Sox fell to the Cardinals in the World Series in seven games. Frank Robinson did it in 1966 and his Orioles swept the Dodgers in the World Series. And Mickey Mantle did it in 1956 before leading his Yankees past the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven.
Eight of the nine Triple Crown winners before that did not play in the Fall Classic. The only one who did was the first Triple Crown winner of the World Series era: Ty Cobb of the Tigers in 1909. Perhaps that Detroit connection will prove to be a good omen for Cabrera and the Tigers this season.
Find this infographic and more great sports analysis at ESPN Playbook.
Copyright 2012 by SportsData