CHICAGO -- Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is less than two weeks away from securing a Triple Crown. Among players with more than a dozen games against the Indians, Cabrera leads the pack in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
More importantly, Cabrera is in the running for the American League's Triple Crown -- a feat not accomplished since Carl Yastrzemski did so for the Red Sox in 1967. Cabrera's rare push had created a national debate over his place in the Most Valuable Player discussion.
The argument mostly pits Cabrera against Angels phenom Mike Trout.
Indians manager Manny Acta weighed in prior to Monday's game against the White Sox.
"The Triple Crown takes precedent over anything else when it comes to production," Acta said. "The defensive part of it is another story. My opinion is not directly related to the metrics or original numbers. It's about not giving it to a guy because their team is not in the playoffs.
"It's the Most Valuable Player. It's not the guy's fault that the other 24 guys didn't get the team into the playoffs. It wouldn't be very nice if, just because any of those clubs don't get in the playoffs, they don't get the award."
Entering Monday, Cabrera's Tigers trailed the American League Central-leading White Sox by one game in the division standings, and were six games back in the AL Wild Card picture. Trout's Angels were 6 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the AL West and 2 1/2 games out of the Wild Card race.
Cabrera headed into Monday's action leading the AL in average (.331), tied for first in homers (42) and first in RBIs (133). The third baseman also led the league in OPS (1.010) and extra-base hits (82) in 151 games. Trout ranked second in average (.323) and had 28 homers, 78 RBIs, 46 stolen bases and an AL-leading 122 runs in only 130 games.
Trout leads the AL in WAR (wins above replacement) with a mark of 10.4, compared to 6.8 for Cabrera. Some of Trout's number accounts for his stellar defense (2.6 defensive WAR), while Cabrera (-0.3) has been underwhelming in the field.
Acta did not agree with the idea that RBIs do not mean as much as they used to in statistical debates.
"How do you win games?" Acta said. "You win games scoring runs. You need to score more runs than the other team. Runs scored and RBIs are very important to me."