Miguel Cabrera

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Miguel Cabrera.jpg

Jose Miguel Torres Cabrera

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 4", Weight 240 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Miguel cabrera on base-4194.jpg

Miguel Cabrera is a star who played his first five seasons with the Florida Marlins and since 2008 has played for the Detroit Tigers. He broke in the majors at the age of 20, during the 2003 season and played a key role in that pennant race. Cabrera homered in his major league debut. He led the 2008 American League in home runs with 37, the fewest homers for an American League leader since 1989 when Fred McGriff hit 36.

Cabrera was signed as an amateur free agent and began play in the minors at age 17 as a shortstop. He was not a strong hitter at first, but blossomed in 2003 in the Double A Southern League when he hit .365 and slugged .609 in 69 games for the Carolina Mudcats. As a rookie with the Marlins in 2003, Cabrera played 87 games in the majors, and then hit a home run in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series. He scored 10 runs in the seven-game 2003 NLCS, including three home runs.

From 2004 to 2007, Cabrera was on the All Star team, and he was 5th in the MVP voting in both 2005 and 2006. He split his time defensively during those years between the outfield and third base, being voted a Silver Slugger Award recipient once as an outfielder and once as a third baseman. He was second in the league in batting in 2006. In 2007, Cabrera had a typical season with the bat, with an OBP of .400 and a slugging percentage around .550.

Cabrera reached 500 RBI in the majors at age 24 years and 139 days. The only players to get to that number quicker were Mel Ott (23, 74 days) and Ted Williams (24, 4). The 500th RBI came on a single against Shawn Hill to drive in Hanley Ramirez.

Detroit Tigers[edit]

In December of 2007, Cabrera was dealt with Dontrelle Willis in a blockbuster trade to the Detroit Tigers for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio De La Cruz and Burke Badenhop. Originally slated to play third base with Detroit, he was quickly moved to first base when Carlos Guillen had difficulties adjusting defensively to the first base position. Cabrera, never a defensive standout, found a permanent home as the Tigers' first sacker. He led the American League in home runs that first season in Detroit. He also was the American League Player of the Month in July.

In 2009, he was again one of the Tigers' offensive leaders, once again hitting over 30 home runs and driving in over 100 runs, as the team led the AL Central race for most of the season. However, his good year was marred by an unfortunate incident in the season's last days. As the Tigers were trying to hold off the resurgent Minnesota Twins, Cabrera was arrested for physically threatening his wife under influence of alcohol in the small hours of the morning on October 3; GM Dave Dombrowski had to bail him out of jail. While he was eventually not charged, the event created a terrible distraction for his teammates. In the one-game playoff against the Twins on October 5, he gave his team an early lead with a home run, but was thrown out at home in the 12th inning as the Tigers lost the game, 6-5.

Prior to the 2010 season, Cabrera apologized to teammates and fans alike for his behavior the previous year and stated that he was getting help for his drinking problem, spending 90 days in an outpatient rehabilitation program. He seemed to have put the issue behind him, as he had another great season with the bat, making the All-Star team for the first time since his move to the American League, while hitting .328 with 38 homers and 126 RBI. He led the league in both RBI and on-base percentage (.420) and finished second behind Josh Hamilton in the MVP vote. On May 28th, he had the first three-homer game of his career, against the Oakland Athletics; he drove in 4 runs, but the Tigers still lost, 5-4.

Unfortunately, Cabrera suffered a relapse of his drinking problems as the 2011 spring training was getting under way. On the evening of February 16, he was arrested in Fort Pierce, FL as he stood intoxicated and disoriented besides his car. He later explained that he had been driving to the Tigers camp in Lakeland, FL in an older vehicle he intended to ship to relatives in Venezuela, when the car overheated and broke down. Police found him drinking whiskey from a bottle by the side of the car. He was detained and charged with both driving under the influence and refusing to cooperate with police. Other details from that night which emerged later cast Cabrera in an even worse light: before the arrest, he had threatened the manager and a customer at a steakhouse in Fort Pierce, stating he had a gun and knew who they were. The manager had called police and stated that Cabrera was apparently intoxicated when he drove away after the altercation. Police had also received calls from other motorists stating that he was driving aggressively and had forced a number of vehicles off the road on the night of his arrest.

After this second brush with the law, Tigers GM Dombrowski stated that Cabrera would need to undergo more vigorous treatment for alcohol abuse before returning to the team. Cabrera missed the beginning of spring training while waiting to be evaluated by a doctor appointed by the Commissioner's office and the Players Association. He returned to the team on February 25th and apologized for his behavior while confirming he would undergo a treatment program. MLB issued a statement that warned him that he could face more serious consequences if he were to be involved in another alcohol-related incident.

Cabrera reached 300 career doubles on April 11, 2011. He became the second MLB player to get to that mark before his 28th birthday - Joe Medwick had been the only other one to accomplish it. In spite of the off-field distraction, he had another great season in 2011, winning the ­American League batting title with a .344 average and also being tops in the league with a .448 OBP and 48 doubles. He hit 30 homers, scored 111 runs and drove in 105, and for the first time drew more than 100 walks, with 108. The Tigers won the AL Central title and he went 3 for 15 with a homer as they beat the New York Yankees in five games in the ALDS. In the ALCS against the Texas Rangers, he was red hot, hitting .400 with 4 doubles, 3 homers and 7 RBI, but the Tigers bowed out in 6 games. He was named to the All-Star team for the 6th time of his career. After the season, he settled the DUI charge by pleading no contest in exchange for prosecution dropping the charge of resisting arrest; he was given a year's probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine. He had originally decided to plead not guilty, and a trial date had been set, but he changed in mind in order not to interfere with the following season's spring training.

Before the 2012 season, the Tigers signed free agent Prince Fielder to a huge long-term contract. Given that Fielder had no position other than first base, it was announced that Cabrera would move back across the diamond to third base, in order to have the two big bats in the line-up simultaneously. It was clear that the transition back to a harder defensive position was not going to be easy, and during spring training, Miguel took a ground ball to the face during an exhibition game with the Philadelphia Phillies. Pictures showed him to be bruised and bloodied, and x-rays later revealed a small fracture in the orbital bone beneath his right eye. He had to sit out a week, but had escaped what could have been a very serious injury, probably because he was wearing sunglasses which absorbed much of the force of the blow. Cabrera's bat did not seem to suffer from the move, as he made the All-Star team once again, then on July 22nd, hit his 300th career homer with a tape-measure shot to center field off Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox. On August 14th, he became the first player in the majors to reach 100 RBI, hitting the mark for the fifth straight season as a Tiger. Only Hall of Famers Harry Heilmann and Charlie Gehringer had matched that feat in the long history of the Tigers, with Heilmann doing it seven times and Gehringer five. He gave the Tigers a scare on August 23rd when he asked to be removed from the game in the 2nd inning of a contest against the Toronto Blue Jays, complaining of pain in his right ankle. He had been complaining of soreness for a few days, but after the game said that he was feeling better and that the problem was only a temporary one. He was named the American League Player of the Month for August, having hit .357 with 8 homers, 19 runs scored and 24 RBI. At that point, talk began about his potentially winning a Triple Crown for the first time since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. On September 25th, he was leading the AL in both batting average and RBI, and was tied with Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers for the home run lead. He had a late burst in homers to finish with 44 as well as 139 RBI and a .330 average to indeed become the first Triple Crown winner since Yaz. Cabrera is also the only player to have won all three Triple Crown categories in separate seasons prior to actually winning the Triple Crown: he won a batting title in 2011, a home run title in 2008 and an RBI title in 2010. Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner born outside of the United States since Tip O'Neill in 1887. He went 5 for 20 with a pair of doubles as the Tigers eliminated the Oakland A's in 5 games in the ALDS, then was 4 for 11 as the Tigers won the first three games of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. In Game 3, he set a record by getting a hit in his 16th straight game in a League Championship Series, dating back to his days with the Florida Marlins; in that game, he also reached base for his 19th straight postseason game as a member of the Tigers, pushing him past Hank Greenberg for the longest such streak in team history. He then hit a two-run homer off CC Sabathia in Game 4, extending both streaks and helping to propel the Tigers into the 2012 World Series as a result of a four-game sweep of the Yankees. However, things did not go as well in the Series against the San Francisco Giants as his bat was quiet until Game 4 when he hit a 3rd-inning two-run homer off Matt Cain to give the Tigers the lead for the first time of the Series. However, the Giants came back, and Cabrera ended the Series by striking out against Sergio Romo in the bottom of the 10th as San Francisco completed a four-game sweep with a 4-3 win. After the season, he was voted the American League MVP, outpointing Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 362 to 281. There was some uncertainty about the vote in spite of Cabrera's historic accomplishment of winning the Triple Crown, because the multi-dimensional Trout had finished ahead of Cabrera on a number of sabermetrical measures, such as Wins Above Replacement (WAR) or Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), showing that he may have been a better all-around player than Miguel. Cabrera dedicated his win to the people of his home country of Venezuela, as he was the first player from there to win the prestigious award. He also was named winner of the Hank Aaron Award as the American League's best hitter.

On May 19, 2013, Cabrera had the second three-homer game of his career, going 4 for 4 with 5 RBI; in his other plate appearance, the Texas Rangers elected to give him an intentional walk with two men already on base, but Prince Fielder followed with a bases-clearing double. In spite of all of that, and as had been the case in his first three-homer game in 2010, the Tigers still lost the game, 11-8. At that point, he was leading the American League batting race with a .387 average and 47 RBI, and his 11 homers were only one behind the league leaders. Continuing his hot hitting streak, he got some help from Cleveland Indians CF Michael Bourn in hitting his 13th homer of the season on May 22nd, hitting a fly ball to the warning track that Bourn was all set to catch until it bounced off his glove and into the stands; he had three more RBI in an 11-7 win that day, and was hitting .466 over his last 8 games, with 5 homers and 10 RBI over the last three. He made it four straight games with a homer with a blast off Scott Diamond of the Minnesota Twins on May 23rd; he also added an RBI single and scored his 1,000th career run as the Tigers won, 7-6. Although given a run for his money by the Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis, he won the American League Player of the Month Award for May, as he finished the month with .379 average, 9 doubles, 12 doubles, 33 RBI and 23 runs scored. When he hit his 29th home run against the Chicago White Sox on July 9th, he set a new team record for most home runs before the All-Star Game, bettering the mark previously held by Cecil Fielder. He reached 100 RBI for the 10th straight season, the 6th player in MLB history to do so, following Al Simmons, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. He was again the AL's Player of the Month in August, even though he had to miss some games with a sore back at the end of the month; he hit .356 with 11 homers and 31 RBI during the month. He finished the year with a career-high .342 average, winning his third straight AL batting title, and was second to Davis in both homers and RBIs. He missed a number of games down the stretch with various ailments, and particularly a badly pulled groin muscle, which allowed the Orioles's slugger to pull ahead of him in those two categories and deny him a repeat Triple Crown. With the Tigers returning to the postseason, Cabrera eventually pushed his record streak of consecutive postseason games in which he had reached first base on either a hit or a walk to 31. The streak ended in Game 3 of the ALCS, when in his final at-bat he struck out against Junichi Tazawa of the Boston Red Sox with the tying run on third base and one out in the bottom of the 8th; the Tigers lost that game, 1-0. The Tigers were eliminated in 6 games in the ALCS. After the season, he was named winner of the Hank Aaron Award for the second straight year and then beat out Chris Davis to win his second straight AL MVP Award. He also underwent surgery to address the groin tear which had slowed him down considerably down the stretch.

On November 20, 2013, the Tigers sent 1B Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in a trade for 2B Ian Kinsler. One of the objectives of the trade was to allow the Bengals to move Cabrera back to 1B, in the hope that lessening his defensive responsibilities would also lower his chance of re-injuring his groin. On March 28, 2014, he signed an eight-year contract extension with the Tigers. Coupled with the two years remaining on his contact, the extension was worth $290 million, making it the largest contract in major league history. The distinction had been held by Alex Rodriguez since he had signed a ten-year deal worth $252 million in 2001; he had then upped the record by re-negotiating an extension worth $275 million over 10 years in 2006. However, in terms of average annual salary, he was still behind the $30.71 million earned by pitcher Clayton Kershaw. On April 4th, he collected the 2,000th hit of his career, part of a 4-for-5 game against the Baltimore Orioles. He was only the 9th player to reach the 2,000-hit mark before his 31st birthday. He was voted the starting first baseman for the American League in the 2014 All-Star Game and as his team's clean-up hitter, hit a two-run homer off Adam Wainwright in the bottom of the 1st, his first long ball in his 9th appearance in the midsummer classic. He finished the season strong, being named the AL Player of the Month for September, but still his numbers were significantly below those of the previous two years, although still quite excellent, as he collected 52 doubles and 25 homers with a .313 average and 109 RBIs. However, the Tigers were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS.

Cabrera got off to hot start in 2015, as in the Tigers' second series of the season, he went 11-for-14 in a three game sweep of the Cleveland Indians. Those were the most hits for him in a three-game series in his career, and back-to-back four-hit games in the last two games were also a first for him. He also hit two home runs in the third game as the Tigers got off to a perfect 6-0 start. On May 15th, he set another milestone when he hit the 399th home run of his career, tying Andres Galarraga for the most by a player from Venezuela. He passed him then next day, when he connected for homer number 400 against Tyler Lyons of the St. Louis Cardinals. It came one day after Adrian Beltre had reached the mark. He was having another great season, hitting .344 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs after 37 games. On July 3rd, he drove in his 900th run as a member of the Tigers and went 2 for 2 in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays to increase his batting average to .350, but he had to leave that game in the 4th inning with a strained calf, an injury sustained while running the bases. He was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career the next day. He was voted the starting first baseman for the AL at the All-Star Game, his 10th selection, but had to bow out because of the injury. His absence was very costly for his team, as when he came back to action on April 14th, the Tigers were out of the running for the postseason. He went on a tear after going hitless in his first game back, as he collected a hit in his next ten games, including seven straight multiple-hit ones; that matched a career high accomplished with the Marlins back in 2006. On August 25th, he had raised his batting average to .371, the only question being whether he would be able to accumulate the 502 plate appearances required to qualify for a fourth batting crown. He did manage to reach the number and finished at .338, ahead of Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox, who was at .320.

In 2016, he was named the AL Player of the Month in September as he hit .349 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 28 games as he tried but failed to push the Tigers into the postseason - they ended up a game and a half shy of the wild card. For the year, he hit .318 and his power numbers bounced back to their usual levels: 31 doubles, 38 homers and 108 RBIs. He was particularly good in the second half, when he hit .346. As good as he was, advanced metrics indicated that he was one of the hitters most hurt by his home ballpark, as Comerica Park's vast outfield deprived him of an estimated .142 points of OPS that season (only Kendrys Morales of the Royals was more harshly treated). The reason was that balls that would be sure home runs anywhere else could be caught at the wall by an exceptional opposite centerfielder in Detroit. In 2017, however, he was slowed down by lower back tightness the entire season, a problem that first manifested itself when he suited up for Venezuela in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. His production was down in all areas, and the Tigers were never really in the race for a postseason slot all season. He finished at .249 with 16 homers and 60 RBIs in 130 games, numbers well below his usual production.

In 2018, he hit a solid .326 in 25 games in April, along with 3 homers and 21 RBIs, but then missed almost all of May with a hamstring injury. His first homer of the year, on April 1st, allowed him to pass Jose Canseco for most career homers among players whose last name begins with the letter "C". He was unwittingly involved in a controversy while injured in May when former Marlins Vice-President David Samson said that he felt sorry that Cabrera was stuck on a rebuilding team in Detroit and that he "had always wanted to come home to Miami" (omitting the fact that the Marlins were in an even worse rebuilding situation). Cabrera had to go on the record to quell the rumor, stating that he wanted to finish his career in Detroit. He returned to action on June 1st but only went 10 for 41 with a pair of doubles in 12 games before suffering a torn biceps tendon in a game against the Minnesota Twins on June 12th. The injury occurred while swinging at a pitch in the 3rd inning. It was a season-ending injury and he ended the year at .299 with 3 homers and 22 RBIs in 28 games.

Through 2010, the similarity scores method showed the most similar players through age 27 as Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron, with Ken Griffey, Jr. a close third. Pegged as a player to watch from the time he reached the major leagues, he was on a Hall of Fame-bound track from the start of his career, although there were concerns at one time that a failure to keep his drinking problems under control could prevent Cabrera from having a fully productive career. However, he defeated those demons and took another step forward, making him one of the players that define excellence in the game. He is the all-time leader for home runs and RBIs among players born in Venezuela.

In addition to his drinking problems, Cabrera was also sued in 2017 by a woman named Belkis Rodriguez with whom he had fathered two children and who was seeking $100,000 in monthly child support payments. He also had three children from his legal marriage and had already provided his former mistress with a mansion in the Miami area and $12,000 in monthly payments following a preliminary court order.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 11-time All-Star (2004-2007 & 2010-2016)
  • 2-time AL MVP (2012 & 2013)
  • AL Triple Crown (2012)
  • 7-time Silver Slugger Award Winner (2005/OF-NL, 2006/3B-NL, 2010/1B-AL, 2012/3B-AL, 2013/3B-AL, 2015/1B-AL & 2016/1B-AL)
  • 4-time AL Batting Average Leader (2011-2013 & 2015)
  • 4-time AL On-Base Percentage Leader (2010, 2011, 2013 & 2015)
  • 2-time AL Slugging Percentage Leader (2012 & 2013)
  • 2-time AL OPS Leader (2012 & 2013)
  • 2-time AL Total Bases Leader (2008 & 2012)
  • 2-time AL Doubles Leader (2011 & 2014)
  • 2-time AL Home Runs Leader (2008 & 2012)
  • 2-time AL RBI Leader (2010 & 2012)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 12 (2004-2014 & 2016)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 10 (2004, 2005, 2007-2013 & 2016)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2012 & 2013)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 12 (2004-2014 & 2016)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 8 (2004-2006 & 2010-2014)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2012)
  • Won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003

2011 2012 2013
Justin Verlander Miguel Cabrera Miguel Cabrera
2012 2013 2014
Miguel Cabrera Miguel Cabrera Mike Trout

Career Highlights[edit]

  • Seasons with 300 or more total bases: 12 (2004-2014, 2016)
  • Seasons with 30 or more doubles: 11 (2004-2012, 2014, 2016)
  • Seasons with 40 or more doubles: 6 (2005, 2006, 2010-2012, 2014)
  • Multi-HR games: 39
  • Homered in first major league game: Florida vs. Tampa Bay, June 20, 2003
  • Scored 10 runs in 7 games in the 2003 NLCS

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ted Berg: "Miguel Cabrera feels unappreciated, so here are 9 things to appreciate about him", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, May 17, 2018. [1]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera: 'I want to finish my career here'", Detroit Free Press, May 29, 2018. [2]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera's season-ending injury bad from all angles", The Detroit Free Press, June 13, 2018. [3]
  • Bob Nightengale: "MLB legends Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols out to prove age is no burden", USA Today Sports, May 16, 2017. [4]
  • Mike Petriello: "Miggy may actually be underrated: Hit Probability shows Tigers slugger deserved more production", mlb.com, March 28, 2017. [5]
  • Mike Petriello: "Statcast suggests a Miggy revival in '18: Tigers first baseman had largest gap between expected and actual production", mlb.com, November 30, 2017. [6]
  • Jeff Seidel: "Tigers' Miguel Cabrera special, but how much longer can he dominate?", Detroit Free Press, January 21, 2017. [7]
  • George Sipple: "Miguel Cabrera will miss rest of season with biceps tendon rupture", USA Today Sports, June 12, 2018. [8]

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