Much has been made this offseason about the new-look Detroit Tigers, and it hasn’t all been roses from those who cover the team, me included. Fans are worried because for the first time in years they simply don’t know what to expect. And that makes people uncomfortable.
But sometimes you have to take a step back and count your blessings. Chief among those are the fact that Detroit Tigers fans get to watch Miguel Cabrera play baseball on a daily basis. May the privilege never be taken for granted.
Think about other teams across the league, examine their rosters over the past 10 years, and then ask yourself how irritating is it, really, to be a Tigers fan? Can you imagine having to hitch your hopes to Alfonso Soriano’s wagon like Cubs fans had to for so long? It must seem like decades ago to Astros fans that Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio ruled the day.
But here we sit, watching the big man rake, with just one goal left on his plate – for the World Series trophy to come back to Detroit after 30 long years.
I am blessed enough to have an 8-year old son and we have been reading through a series of books by Dan Gutman. He portrays a kid named Joe Stoshack who can travel back through time and witness or try to influence historical baseball moments. He has visited Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. It occurred to me that 50 years from now, if Gutman were still alive and writing books, that he might be inclined to send Stoshack back in time to watch Miguel Cabrera take a few rips.
He’s that good.
And that’s what made last September and October so frustrating for Tigers fans. To a fan, it is believed that Cabrera is the kind of rare talent that can put the Tigers on his back and carry them to that elusive crown. But he wasn’t healthy, not even close. Had he been, it probably would have made the difference, providing the perfect stamp on a dominant regular season that resulted in the American League MVP crown being handed to him for the 2nd consecutive year. But it just wasn’t meant to be.
Rumors swirled that the Avisail Garcia-Prince Fielder scandal, in which Garcia allegedly slept with Fielder’s wife and was subsequently traded, may have resulted in a clubhouse scuffle to which Cabrera intervened, possibly slipped, and re-aggravated his abdominal injury, essentially stripping the Tigers of his mighty bat the rest of the way. Who knows if this is true. But if it is, what a crying shame that something so unrelated to baseball could have altered the destiny of the 2013 Tigers.
And with another postseason exit came GM Dave Dombrowski’s roster shuffle. Was last year the Tigers’ best chance to win it all then? It certainly might have been. But so long as Cabrera is lacing up his cleats in Motown, I’d like to think the Tigers have a chance.
There are superstars, and then there are guys who belong in a whole different category. Cabrera is captain of that team.
He has won three straight AL batting titles, two straight MVP’s, he’s been an All-Star eight times, won the Triple Crown in 2012, and even won a World Series with the Marlins in 2003.
His .321 lifetime batting average, which only continues to climb, ranks 37th all-time and puts his name among a list of players who have long since hung up the spikes and generally faced much more hittable pitching during their careers (with the exception of the declining Albert Pujols).
His .568 slugging % ranks 12th all-time and his .967 OPS (on-base plus slugging %) is 15th. He has already rolled up 412 doubles, 365 homers, and 1,260 RBI’s and he’ll turn just 31 in April.
With his ability to put the bat on the ball with thunder, I’d assume he has 5-8 more years of extreme productivity in the batter’s box. Now we’re talking about potential membership in the exclusive 600 home run club, a list that only has eight current members, three of whom are noted steroid abusers (Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa).
If he finds a way to average 120 RBI’s over the next eight seasons he would find himself sandwiched between Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth as the all-time RBI kings.
It’s for all of these reasons that Miguel Cabrera is going to get a mega free agent deal from the Tigers sooner or later, even at age 31 or 32, as financially un-wise as it all may seem.
The Tigers will want Cabrera chasing history in their uniform. They assume that if he stays long enough, with the strong starting pitching that supports his offensive productivity, that they’ll run into a World Series title soon enough.
He’s just that good.
To receive an email each time a new Tigers article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form
[Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe]