Cabrera easily wins A.L. MVP Award; Posey wins in N.L.

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Cabrera easily wins A.L. MVP Award; Posey wins in N.L.

NEW YORK -- Miguel Cabrera has a Most Valuable Player award to go with his Triple Crown. And Buster Posey has an MVP prize to put alongside his second World Series ring.

The pair of batting champions won baseball's top individual honors Thursday by large margins.

Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, won the AL MVP by receiving 22 of 28 first-place votes and 362 points from a panel of Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The Detroit third baseman easily beat Los Angeles Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout, who had six firsts and 281 points.

Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBI to become the first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Cabrera also led the league with a .606 slugging percentage for the A.L. champion Tigers.

Some of the more sabermetric-focused fans supported Trout, who hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBI, and he led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals and topped all players in WAR - Wins Above Replacement. Trout won A.L. Rookie of the Year earlier in the week.

"I was a little concerned. I thought the new thing about computer stuff, I thought Trout's going to win because they put his numbers over me," Cabrera said. "I was like, relax . . . if he wins, it's going to be fair because he had a great season."

His victory is a win for the traditional statistics.

"At the end of the game, it's going to be the same baseball played back in the day," Cabrera said.

Posey, at a charity event at his mother's school in Leesburg, Va., followed the A.L. debate and Googled to find out the winner.

"I think it intrigued everybody," he said. "As a fan of the game, it was a fun race to watch."

With three fewer hits or two less homers, Cabrera would have fallen short of the Triple Crown. The last four Triple Crown winners have been voted MVP, including Mickey Mantle in 1956 and Frank Robinson in 1966.

"I think winning the Triple Crown had a lot to do with me winning this honor," he said.

Cabrera became the second straight Detroit player voted MVP, following pitcher Justin Verlander in 2011, and was the first Venezuelan to earn the honor. Countryman Pablo Sandoval took home World Series MVP honors last month.

Before the season, Cabrera switched from first base to third to make way for Prince Fielder, who signed with Detroit as a free agent.

"I focused too much in spring training about defense, defense, defense," Cabrera said. "I forgot a little bit about hitting, about getting in the cage like I normally do."

In spring training, Posey's focus was just to get back on the field. His 2011 season was cut short by a collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25 that resulted in a fractured bone in Posey's lower left leg and three torn ankle ligaments.

Posey not only returned, he became the first catcher in 70 years to win the N.L. batting title and helped San Francisco win its second World Series championship in three seasons.

"I definitely have a deeper appreciation for being able to play baseball," he said. "I've seen that it can be taken away quick."

The first catcher in four decades to win the NL award, Posey got 27 of 32 firsts and 422 points to outdistance 2011 winner Ryan Braun of Milwaukee, who was second with 285 points.

Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen (245) was third, followed by St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina (241).

Posey, a boyish-looking 25, was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year as the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. This year he set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBI as San Francisco won again.

Posey took the N.L. batting title after teammate Melky Cabrera requested a rules change that disqualified him. Cabrera, who hit .346, missed the final 45 games of the regular-season while serving a suspension for a positive testosterone test and would have won the batting crown if the rule hadn't been changed.

Ernie Lombardi had been the previous catcher to capture the NL batting championship, in 1942.

"I think anybody that has caught before understands the grind of catching, not only the physical, the nicks, the wear and tear of squatting for nine innings night in, day out, but just the mental grind of working a pitching staff," Posey said. "It's demanding."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."