Tigers manager Jim Leyland has made his stand. He told reporters Wednesday that he would be shocked and "it would blow my mind" if Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera were not named the American League MVP this season.
Cabrera leads the American League in batting average (.333) and RBI (130), and he has 41 homers, one short of the AL-leading total of the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton. No player has led in all three categories to win a Triple Crown since the Boston Red Sox's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
However, the Los Angeles Angels have a strong candidate of their own in rookie outfielder Mike Trout, who leads the majors in runs scored and the new-age stat Wins Above Replacement, which tries to encompass a player's total value to his team.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia did not want to openly advocate for Trout as Leyland did for Cabrera, but he clearly thinks the MVP race is much more of a contest than the Tigers manager's comments indicate.
"The guys that are voting, sometimes it's in the eye of the beholder," Scioscia said. "Some guys are going to put more weight on how a team finishes. Some guys are going to put more weight on just pure stats. Some guys are going to have a combination of those. They're both putting up extraordinary numbers in some different areas. If you look at Mike's full body of work, there's no doubt that it compares to what Miguel Cabrera is doing.
"Mike Trout plays a premium defensive position every day and brings a presence out there that is incredible. What he's done as a leadoff hitter and the amount of runs he's scored, the stolen bases -- there's so many things for each guy. Each guy is having an extraordinary season."
Trout went 1-for-4 with an outfield assist Wednesday in the Angels' 6-2 loss to the Rangers.