American League MVP Chase Close Two-Man Race
Could we see the first Triple Crown in Major League Baseball since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski won the top three batting categories in 1967 by leading the American League with a .326 average, 44 home runs and 121 RBIs?
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Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is on a tear right now and entering Wednesday's action led the AL with a .333 average and 129 RBIs (both career-highs, with the RBIs No.1 in MLB). His 40 home runs are two behind AL and MLB leader Josh Hamilton of the Rangers.
Since Yastrzemski's Triple Crown, there hasn't been a player in either league who has won two thirds of the Triple Crown and finished second in the third category (L.A.'s Matt Kemp led the NL in HRs and RBIs in 2011 but was third in batting). History bodes well for Cabrera because just two other players in MLB history who have led their league in batting and RBIs haven't won the Triple Crown when hitting at least 40 homers. The last was Colorado's Todd Helton in 2000. He led the NL with a .372 average and 147 RBIs. Helton hit 42 homers that year but finished a distant eight behind leader Sammy Sosa of the Cubs.
If Cabrera does win the Triple Crown, it would be hard to imagine he's not named the league MVP for the first time in his career even if Detroit misses the playoffs. Cabrera's sole competition is Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout; his Halos also might miss the postseason. All of Cabrera's Triple Crown numbers are superior to Trout's. But the rookie wasn't called up until near the end of April and he leads the league in steals and runs, is a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player and tops the AL in wins above replacement (WAR). Cabrera is one of the worst defensive players in baseball and a poor base-runner but is second in WAR.
At the All-Star Break, Trout was the 2/1 Bovada favorite to win the MVP - he would become the third rookie ever to win the Rookie of the Year award and an MVP in the same season. Cabrera was the fourth-favorite at the break at 6/1, behind Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (5/2) and Hamilton (4/1).
In the National League, Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen was the 4/1 favorite at the break, but the Pirates have fallen off a cliff of late. It's now quite possible that Milwaukee's Ryan Braun repeats as the NL MVP. However, some voters may not cast a ballot for Braun because of the positive drug test and 50-game suspension that was overturned on appeal this offseason.
Braun, who wasn't a betting option on the MVP prop at the break, enters Wednesday leading the NL in home runs and RBIs and is fifth in batting. Braun would need a miracle to win the NL Triple Crown as he is 32 points behind NL batting leader Melky Cabrera, who may win that title while serving his own 50-game suspension. Thus Cabrera's .346 average won't drop.
Braun's top competition for the MVP will now come from Giants catcher Buster Posey (.333, 22 HRs, 93 RBIs). He has helped carry the weak San Francisco offense without Cabrera, not to mention managed one of baseball's best pitching staffs. Posey was at 25/1 to win the NL MVP before the season but wasn't an option on the re-posted prop at the break.
Weekend Live Betting Schedule
Three series finales on Thursday will have live betting the book: A's at Tigers, Rockies at Giants and Rangers at Angels. Detroit and L.A. were two of the American League favorites back in the spring but now it's highly possible both miss the postseason. The Tigers, who lost a key make-up game at the White Sox on Monday, are now 7/1 to win the AL pennant, while the Angels are 9/1.
On Friday, three series openers have live betting: Cardinals at Cubs, A's at Yankees and White Sox at Angels. That St. Louis game will be the season debut of Chris Carpenter. He hasn't pitched a big-league game since winning Game 7 of the World Series against Texas because of a career-threatening condition called thoracic outlet syndrome. Carpenter underwent surgery in July that was supposed to officially end his 2012 season. But now the Cards might have an ace in the hole for the postseason. Carpenter was 4-0 in last year's playoffs.
The rest of the MLB live betting options this weekend are Braves at Phillies on Saturday and Dodgers at Reds on Sunday night.
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