KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Miguel Cabrera became the 15th player to win baseball's Triple Crown on Wednesday night, the reluctant superstar thrust into the spotlight after joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.

Cabrera went 0 for 2 with a strikeout, then left in the fourth inning of the regular-season finale -- a 1-0 Detroit Tigers' win over the Kansas City Royals. He received a standing ovation from the opposing fans.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," Cabrera said. "I can't describe the feeling right now."

He finished with an A.L.-leading .330 average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs, becoming just the 15th player to achieve the milestone and the first since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

"It was hard the last two days because everybody talked about it. I just had to focus, I had to go out there and do the job," Cabrera said. "The hardest part was to go out there and focus and win games. I said, 'If we win the division, everything would take care of itself.' "

The crowd at Kauffman Stadium gave Cabrera a standing ovation before he flied out in the first inning. He struck out in the top of the fourth but remained in the game, allowing Tigers manager Jim Leyland to remove him with two outs in the Royals' half of the inning to another standing ovation.

Cabrera high-fived his teammates as he descended into the Detroit dugout, and then sheepishly walked to the top step and waved, almost as if he'd been playing at home.

"I would say without question he's enjoyed it. How could you not enjoy what he's done if you're a baseball player?" Leyland said. "I would also add to that I doubt very much, knowing him, that he necessarily enjoys all the extra attention, and all the extra conversations he has to have, it's kind of out of his realm in personality."

Cabrera's milestone wasn't official until the New York Yankees pinch hit for Curtis Granderson in their game against Boston. Granderson had homered twice to reach 43 for the season, tied with Texas' Josh Hamilton.

Cabrera finished four points better than Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout, his biggest competition for league MVP, to win his second straight batting title. Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBIs.

"When he's over the plate, he can do anything. He's the best hitter in the game," Trout said.

The year Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown, he was part of the Red Sox's "Impossible Dream Team" that reached the World Series for the first time in more than two decades. The Hall of Fame outfielder said in a statement, "I am glad that (Cabrera) accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title."

He hit .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBIs in 1967.