Miggy, Posey face off in battle of MVP frontrunners

Miggy, Posey face off in battle of MVP frontrunners

Miggy, Posey face off in battle of MVP frontrunners
SAN FRANCISCO -- The teams will be introduced before Game 1 of the 108th World Series on Wednesday night, the Giants lining up on the third-base foul line at AT&T Park, the Tigers on the first-base side.

Nothing unusual about that. Here's what's notable, though. San Francisco catcher Buster Posey will find himself standing several feet away from Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Each is considered a frontrunner to win the Most Valuable Player Award in his league. And, believe it or not, having MVPs face off in the World Series isn't nearly as common as it used to be.

World Series

In fact, if Posey and Cabrera end up winning the balloting by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America when the results are announced in December, it will be the first time since 1988 -- when Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers and Jose Canseco of the Athletics won -- that it's happened.

It's happened just once in the last 31 years. But until 1980, it had happened in almost half the seasons -- 24 out of 50 -- since the MVP was first awarded in 1931.

There are probably several reasons for this. The MVP ballots are cast at the end of the regular season, so what happens during the playoffs isn't taken into account. Traditionally, most voters tended to favor players from teams that won. And until division play began in 1969, the team that won each league went directly to the World Series.

An additional round was added in 1995. So now, even if the best player on the best regular-season team wins the MVP Award, there's an increased probability that his team was knocked out of the postseason before reaching the World Series. Plus, with the advent of sabermetrics, there are now different tools for measuring a player's value.

MVPs meeting in the World Series
Year NL MVP AL MVP
1988 LAD Kirk Gibson OAK Jose Canseco
1980 PHI Mike Schmidt KC George Brett
1976 CIN Joe Morgan NYY Thurman Munson
1975 CIN Joe Morgan BOS Fred Lynn
1970 CIN Johnny Bench BAL Boog Powell
1968 STL Bob Gibson DET Denny McLain
1967 STL Orlando Cepeda BOS Carl Yastrzemski
1963 LAD Sandy Koufax NYY Elston Howard
1961 CIN Frank Robinson NYY Roger Maris
1960 PIT Dick Groat NYY Roger Maris
1957 MIL Hank Aaron NYY Mickey Mantle
1956 BRO Don Newcombe NYY Mickey Mantle
1955 BRO Roy Campanella NYY Yogi Berra
1950 PHI Jim Konstanty NYY Phil Rizzuto
1946 STL Stan Musial BOS Ted Williams
1945 CHC Phil Cavarretta DET Hal Newhouser
1943 STL Stan Musial NYY Spud Chandler
1942 STL Mort Cooper NYY Joe Gordon
1941 BRO Dolph Camilli NYY Joe DiMaggio
1940 CIN Frank McCormick DET Hank Greenberg
1939 CIN Bucky Walters NYY Joe DiMaggio
1936 NYG Carl Hubbell NYY Lou Gehrig
1935 CHC Gabby Hartnett DET Hank Greenberg
1934 STL Dizzy Dean DET Mickey Cochrane
1931 STL Frankie Frisch PHI Lefty Grove
Consider this: Cabrera won the Triple Crown this year, leading his league in batting average, home runs and RBIs. That once would have made him almost a lock. But there are some who crunch the numbers and conclude that Angels rookie Mike Trout should win instead.

For what it's worth, Posey would vote for Cabrera.

"The guy is one of the best, if not the best, hitters in the game," said Posey. "His path to the ball is as consistent as anybody. That's what allows him to hit line to line. The quick, short stroke and the extension allow him to hit for power, too. It's been incredible to watch. You know I heard, I think it was Harold Reynolds [on MLB Network], talking about the difficulty of winning the Triple Crown, and I think he hit the nail on the head. He was talking about how in today's game, there are so many factors that go into winning it that are different.

"You might face a starter two or three at-bats. Then for the rest of the game, you're getting matchups -- whatever the manager feels like is the best matchup, especially a guy like Cabrera, who's a threat every time. So he's getting the best of the best all the time. Plus he's got other guys who can hit for average, guys that drive in runs, guys that hit homers. Not in a negative way, he's not necessarily a fast guy. So he's not getting a lot of infield hits. So it's really remarkable. I don't know when we'll ever see it again."

Cabrera also saluted Posey.

"He's a great hitter. I hope our pitchers can get him out," Cabrera said with a laugh.

He shrugged off questions about his own chances of winning the MVP Award.

"That's not my focus right now," he said. "All we're thinking about is winning games. Winning the World Series isn't about one player. It's about 25 guys. This is a special moment, so we don't want any distractions thinking about that. We want to focus 100 percent on winning the World Series."

Cabrera and Posey both had impressive seasons, considering where they started. Posey was coming off a gruesome injury, sustained in a collision at home plate in May 2011. Cabrera had agreed to switch positions, going from first base to third to accommodate the signing of free agent Prince Fielder.

Those are the sorts of intangibles that might impress MVP voters. And if Cabrera and Posey both win, enjoy it. Because it doesn't happen very often anymore.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.