"People forget how young he is," Acta said. "He's maturing overall -- as a person, as a player, as a shortstop and as a hitter. It takes time."
What did not take long was for Cabrera to emerge as a leader for the Indians during the 2011 season. Given his impressive performance, it came as no surprise that the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America named Cabrera this year's recipient of the Bob Feller Man of the Year Award.
Indians closer Chris Perez received the Frank Gibbons-Steve Olin Good Guy Award.
Cabrera can add that honor to the handful of accolades that he reeled in this offseason.
The shortstop was given an American League Silver Slugger Award, recognizing him as the top offensive performer at his position. Cabrera started for the AL during the All-Star Game, and he was named to the Sporting News' postseason All-Star team. He was also Cleveland's nominee for the AL Hank Aaron Award.
There was one thing in particular that Cabrera was especially proud of this year.
"Being on the field every day," said Cabrera, when asked at the end of the season for his favorite accomplishment. "This was a year I wanted to play a lot of games. I'm really excited that I was able to do that."
Cabrera, who turned 26 in November, appeared in a career-high 151 games and stepped up to the plate for a personal-best 604 at-bats. Along the way, he also established career marks in homers (25), RBIs (92), runs scored (87), hits (165), total bases (278) and slugging percentage (.460).
Cabrera's 25 homers set a new franchise record for a shortstop, and his 92 RBIs were the most by an Indians shortstop since Lou Boudreau collected 106 during the 1948 tour. That was also the last time a Cleveland shortstop was named to the Sporting News All-Star team at the end of a season.
Among AL shortstops this past season, Cabrera ranked first in RBIs and hits, and was second in homers, runs and doubles.
"He's on his way," Acta said of Cabrera at the end of the season.
Justin Masterson was the other nominee for the local BBWAA's Man of the Year honor.
Perez earned the Good Guy Award after a season during which he saved 36 games as the Tribe's closer and bullpen leader. The award recognizes a person associated with the team who shows a good understanding of the media's role and provides help on a daily basis. Shelley Duncan and Masterson were also nominated.