DETROIT -- For the third consecutive year, a Tiger has captured Player of the Year honors at the Major League Baseball Players Choice Awards. But that was just the start of the recognition Detroit received from its peers on Monday night.
For the first time since 2009, a team swept Player of the Year, Outstanding Hitter and Outstanding Pitcher honors. While Miguel Cabrera repeated as Player of the Year and American League Outstanding Player, Max Scherzer became the second Tigers hurler in three years to win AL Outstanding Pitcher.
It's just the third time in the history of the Players Choice Awards that one team has taken all three honors. Detroit had a chance at a fourth award, but Jose Iglesias lost out to Rays outfielder Wil Myers for AL Outstanding Rookie honors.
Neither Cabrera nor Scherzer was a major surprise. Statistically, Cabrera topped the production of his Triple Crown season from 2012, batting .348 to become the first right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby in 1920 to win a third consecutive batting crown.
Cabrera matched last season's total of 44 home runs while playing in 13 fewer games. Considering he hit only one home run in September while dealing with a groin injury that required offseason surgery, he put up the bulk of his production in far less time.
It wasn't enough for another home run title, finishing second to Baltimore's Chris Davis, who hit 53. Likewise, his 137 RBIs left him one shy of Davis for the league lead. Still, it was more than enough production to power his Player of the Year campaign.
"It's a great feeling," Cabrera told MLB Network during the awards show. "It was a tough season. It means a lot."
Though the two sets of awards are voted on by different groups, the Player of the Year honor has tracked very closely with MVP. The winner has won the MVP Award in his respective league in six of the last seven seasons, with 2010 being an exception. Cabrera and Justin Verlander have pulled the two-step the past two years.
Cabrera beat out Davis and Mike Trout for AL Outstanding Player honors. He topped Davis and Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw for the Player of the Year award.
For Cabrera's fellow players to recognize what he was able to accomplish through injuries that hampered him for most of the season's second half, too, meant something for him.
Asked how tough it was, Cabrera said, "It's hard. A lot of people ask me the same thing. I say, 'You know what we're going through every day. In the field, we focus on what we're trying to do, help our team win games.'"
Cabrera recorded the awards show soon after undergoing core muscle repair surgery last week in Philadelphia.
"Now I feel good, a little sore," he said. "Now I have to get some rest. I do my rehab right now to be ready for next season."
Cabrera's honors earned him a $70,000 donation from the MLB Players Trust to the charity of his choice. He selected his Miguel Cabrera Foundation, which funds projects to renovate youth baseball fields in Detroit as well as his hometown of Miami and his native Venezuela.
Scherzer's Outstanding Pitcher Award came over a field of finalists that included another deserving Tigers pitcher, AL ERA leader Anibal Sanchez. But nobody was going to top the combination of Scherzer's 21-3 record, 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts over 214 1/3 innings.
Scherzer's record was the best by a Major League pitcher since Cliff Lee went 22-3 in 2008. It came after Scherzer got off to a 13-0 start, one of the best records to begin a season in Major League history, and a 19-1 mark that was the best since Roger Clemens won 20 of his first 21 decisions in 2001.
"It was a great ride," Scherzer told MLB Network. "Everybody played well together. The days I didn't pitch well, my teammates scored a bunch of runs to help me win."
Scherzer kept insisting all season that the wins and losses were fluky statistics. His other stats, however, carried undeniable weight. Only Yu Darvish, the other finalist for the award, finished with more strikeouts among Major League pitchers, while Scherzer's .198 batting average ranked second in the AL to Darvish. Scherzer's .254 on-base percentage allowed led big league starting pitchers.
The AL Outstanding Pitcher winner has gone on to win the AL Cy Young in six of the last seven seasons. The exception was 2010, when David Price won the Players Choice award before Felix Hernandez won Cy Young honors.
"For the rest of the league to vote me to be the best pitcher in the American League, it's something that I'll never forget," Scherzer said.
Scherzer opted to direct his $20,000 donation from the Players Trust to the Detroit Tigers Foundation.