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Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski called Cabrera a “once-in-a-lifetime player,” and recalled a conversation he had before Monday night’s game, when the seven-time All-Star admitted “the Triple Crown is important, but it’s not the most important thing.”

Cabrera wanted to win a championship, something Detroit has the chance to chase.

The same can’t be said of Trout, his primary competition for AL MVP. Los Angeles was knocked out of playoff contention Monday night when Oakland beat Texas 4-3.

The MVP debate has certainly slowly started to boil.

On one hand, Cabrera is on the footstep of history, poised to join a club that counts just 13 members, among them Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb. He’s dominated the statistical categories favored by traditionalists, the ones that count toward the Triple Crown.

On the other hand, Trout is being championed by new-school baseball thought, number crunchers who rely on more obscure measures such as WAR (Wins Above Replacement), a figure derived from several other statistics designed to judge a player’s overall contribution to a team.

“For whatever reason and I don’t understand it, this WAR and sabermetric stuff seems to not focus much on RBIs. That blows my mind,” said Leyland, most certainly part of the old guard.

“That’s why (Cabrera) is the MVP. He plates the runners. He scores them. That’s what the game’s about, score some runs. You can’t win unless you score some runs. Here’s a guy who knocks them in, one right after another.”

As for Cabrera’s relatively quiet pursuit of baseball history? Well, Leyland is content to sit on the bench and take it all in, right beside Verlander and the rest of the Tigers.

“They all want him to win it. They want it bad, and you can tell that, and certainly he’s no exception,” Leyland said. “They’re pulling so hard for him, you know? Hopefully we’ll have some fun with it the next couple days and hopefully he’ll get it done.”