MVPs announced: Braun or Posey? Cabrera or Trout?

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MVPs announced: Braun or Posey? Cabrera or Trout?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- 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 RBIs 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 AL champion Tigers.Some of the more sabermetric-focused fans supported Trout, who hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, and he led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals and topped all players in WAR -- Wins Above Replacement. Trout won AL 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 AL 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 NL 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 RBIs as San Francisco won again.Posey took the NL 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."NOTES:In his first season with the Angels, Albert Pujols didn't finish among the top 10 for the first time in his career. While with St. Louis, he won three times, was second four times and also finished third, fourth, fifth and ninth. ... Catchers have won the NL MVP just eight times, with Posey joining Gabby Hartnett (1935), Lombardi (1938), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953, 1955) and Johnny Bench (1970, 1972). Posey became the first Giants player to win since Barry Bonds was voted his record seventh MVP award in 2004. ... Cabrera earned a 500,000 bonus, Adrian Beltre 150,000 for finishing third in the AL and Josh Hamilton 50,000 for fifth place. Braun gets a 75,000 bonus, and McCutchen and Molina 50,000 each. The Yankees' Derek Jeter finished seventh in the AL, one place below the level where his 2014 player option would have increased by 2 million to 10 million.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."