Graphic: How often does MVP win Series?

Miguel Cabrera or Buster Posey could pull off a rare feat if one wins MVP and the World Series. AP Photo, US Presswire

The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants are getting set to square off in the 2012 World Series, and each team is led by one of its league’s top candidates for regular-season most valuable player.

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in either league in 45 years, but he faces stiff competition for American League MVP from Los Angeles Angels rookie wonder Mike Trout. In the National League, the Giants’ Buster Posey led all major leaguers in hitting but figures to be challenged by a host of candidates, including Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

We’ll find out whether Cabrera or Posey (or both) is his league’s respective MVPs when the announcements are made on Nov. 15. But before that, we’ll see which team wins the Fall Classic.

And if either wins the Series, then wins MVP, that'll be no common feat. You might be surprised to learn how often a major league player has had the best of both worlds, the ultimate in individual and team achievement: winning the MVP and the World Series in the same season.

This infographic from SportsData LLC draws it out:

SportsData LLC infographic on regular-season MVPs in the World Series

As you can see in the infographic above, a player has won the MVP award and World Series in the same season 38 times (19 times in each league) since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America started handing out MVP hardware in 1931.

But it hasn’t happened for a long time.

The last time an NL MVP won a world championship was 1988, when Kirk Gibson won the MVP and then led his Los Angeles Dodgers to a memorable, fist-pumping victory over the A’s in the World Series. In the AL, it’s been 28 years since Tigers closer Willie Hernandez took home AL MVP honors and then helped his team beat the Padres in the 1984 World Series.

Triple Crown winners in the World Series

Cabrera is the fourth straight Triple Crown winner to play in the World Series. Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967, but his Boston Red Sox fell to the Cardinals in the World Series in seven games. Frank Robinson did it in 1966, and his Orioles swept the Dodgers in the World Series. And Mickey Mantle did it in 1956 before leading his New York Yankees past the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven.

Eight of the nine Triple Crown winners before that did not play in the Fall Classic. The only one who did was the first Triple Crown winner of the World Series era: Ty Cobb of the Tigers in 1909.

Perhaps that Detroit connection will prove to be a good omen for Cabrera and the Tigers this season.

Infographic by SportsData LLC -- click here to see it in a larger format.