Miguel Cabrera cruises to American League MVP award

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The debate has raged on for months. And now we finally have a winner.

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was named the American League MVP this evening by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Despite the impassioned and often contentious arguments dating back to the summer, the balloting wasn’t all that close.

Cabrera received 22 out of the 28 first-place votes to finish with 362 points. Angels outfielder Mike Trout got the other six first-place votes and finished in second place with 281 points. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre received one second-place vote — over Trout — and finished third. He was the only player other than Cabrera or Trout to get a second-place vote. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton rounded out the top five on the ballot. Full ballot results can be found at BBWAA.com.

Cabrera won the award on the strength of the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, leading the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139). While the Triple Crown functioned as a “trump card” for many voters given that we went 45 years without one, Cabrera also led the league in slugging percentage (.606), OPS (.999), total bases (377) and extra-base hits (84).

Cabrera couldn’t touch Trout’s contributions on the basepaths or on defense, prompting the debate about all-around value and the true meaning of “most valuable,” but the narrative for him to win the award was strengthened by a variety of factors, including his move to third base to accommodate Prince Fielder, his strong performance down the stretch and the Tigers making the playoffs. Still, it’s safe to say that the Triple Crown had just enough cachet left to give Cabrera the edge over Trout.

This is Cabrera’s first career MVP award. He came close two years ago, but finished second to Hamilton. Justin Verlander took home the hardware last year, so the Tigers have MVP award winners in consecutive seasons.

Mike Moustakas sets Royals single-season record with 37th home run

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Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.

The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.

Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.

Chris Sale records his 300th strikeout this season

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.

Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.

Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.