One group of voters mattered more than the writers in awarding Miguel Cabrera his American League Most Valuable Player Award during Thursday's dramatics in New York. The players. After the most divisive, most acidic, debate I can remember in my baseball experience, Cabrera beat a glorious rookie, Mike Trout, for the 2012 AL MVP plaque. An official vote confirmed it. Twenty-two of 28 ballots from Baseball Writers Association of America members had etched Cabrera's name into that first-place slot. Six had chosen Trout. Victory for a Tigers superstar, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years. But what made this vote, and this sadly polarized discussion, less of an argument and more of a validation, was last week's release of the Players Choice Awards. Cabrera's big-league peers named him the best player in either league in 2012. They decided, also, he was the American League's Outstanding Player for 2012. And if those prizes didn't make clear what his counterparts thought of his skills, he also won the Sporting News 2012 Player of the Year in a vote of big-leaguers. They gave him 108 points to 71 for Trout, who was runner-up. Tense times This has been a difficult, uncomfortable skirmish we have been watching play out in recent weeks and months, this Cabrera-versus-Trout standoff. It got ugly because it never should have been so antagonistic. But it became, too many times, an I-know-baseball-and-you-don't controversy. It became, probably as many times, a reflexive, hometown-flavored popularity contest centered on the statistical fact Cabrera won this year's Triple Crown. The Trout supporters were infused with conviction and correctness: Trout played ungodly defense. He stole 49 bases in his 5½-month cameo with the Angels. He bashed 30 home runs and stole 49 bases. He batted .326. From The Detroit News: