José Miguel Cabrera Torres
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 240 lb.
Miguel Cabrera is a future Hall of Fame first baseman who has played seventeen seasons (and counting) with the Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers. He is a two-time MVP, four-time batting champion and been named to eleven All-Star teams. In 2012, he became the first man since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown, leading the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139).
Miguel joined the Marlins as an amateur free agent in 1999, beginning his career as a shortstop. Part of a blossoming minor league corps that included pitchers Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis, Miggy exploded at the age of 20 in 2003, shredding the Double A Southern League to the tune of a .365/.429/.609 line with 10 home runs in 69 games with the Carolina Mudcats. This brought him up to the big leagues, debuting on June 20th with a 1-for-5 day against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The one hit was a big one, as Miguel clobbered a walk-off, two-run homer against Al Levine to make Florida 3-1 winners. He played 87 games that first season, hitting .268/.325/.468 with 36 extra-base hits as the Marlins secured the National League wild card spot. He drove in 3 runs during the team's NLDS victory over the San Francisco Giants, then scored 10 runs while slugging 3 home runs during the infamous 2003 NLCS, opening up the scoring with a three-run shot in the 1st inning off Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 as the Fish marched to their second World Series. In the Fall Classic, though he hit but .167, he again hit a key home run in the 1st inning, taking the great Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees deep for a two-run shot in Game 4, a game from which Florida ultimately escaped victorious, 4-3, en route to a six-game Series win.
Miguel became one of the Marlins' top stars the following season, belting 33 home runs, driving in 112 and scoring 101 times to the tune of a .294/.366/.512 slash line. Over the next four seasons, 2004 to 2007, he represented the Fish at the All-Star Game each year. In 2005 and 2006, he muscled his way to fifth-place finishes in the MVP vote, earning Silver Slugger honors for the first and second times (once as an outfielder and once as a third baseman). 2005 was his first .300 season, when we batted .323/.385/.561, belting another 33 home runs with 78 total extra-base hits, 116 RBI and 106 runs scored. With the back-to-back 30 homer seasons, he became the youngest player, at 22 years, 143 days, to do so, besting the great Albert Pujols by 80 days of youth. He followed that up the next year with an incredible .339/.430/.568 line, finishing second in the batting race and contributing another 78 extra-base hits (50 doubles and 26 home runs) with a career-best 112 runs scored.
Splitting his time defensively between outfield and third base in Marlins country, he enjoyed what ultimately proved to be his last great NL season in 2007, once again pulverizing pitching to the tune of a .320/.401/.565 line, 34 home runs and 119 RBI. That season, Miggy became the third youngest man to reach 500 RBI in big league history, at just 24 years and 139 days. The only men to do it younger were a pair of Hall of Famers: Mel Ott (23 years, 74 days) and Ted Williams (24 years, 4 days). He did the deal on September 4th, driving home Hanley Ramirez with a single against the Washington Nationals' Shawn Hill in a 4-3 loss at RFK Stadium. Miguel finished the season high on the Marlins all-time leaderboards, coming in hot at number one in batting average (.313), second in home runs (138) and third in RBI (523). Unfortunately for him, he had earned a significant salary increase in arbitration, beating the Marlins and earning a $7.3 million deal through the process prior to the season. With the franchise nowhere near contention (as of 2020, they had not returned to the postseason since the 2003 Series triumph) and always ready to deal someone the second they began to make real dollars, Cabrera's days in Miami were numbered.
So, of course, it was no surprise in December 2007 when the Fish killed two birds with one stone, dealing stars with rising cash flow coming, Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis, to the Detroit Tigers for a bushel of young players making peanuts, including 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 first. Cabrera, never a defensive standout, had now found a home as the Tigers' first sacker. He led the American League in home runs that first season, belting the fewest (37) for an AL leader since Fred McGriff of the Toronto Blue Jays mustered 36 in 1989. The American League Player of the Month in July, Miggy's first season in the Motor City ended solidly with a .293/.349/.537 line with 127 RBI. In 2009, Cabrera was again one of the Tigers' offensive leaders, once again hitting over 30 home runs and driving in over 100 runs with a .324/.396/.547 line, 34 homers and 103 RBI, 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 while under the influence of alcohol in the small hours of the morning on October 3rd; 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 5th, 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, 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/.420/.622 with 38 homers and 126 RBI. He led the league in RBI, on-base percentage (.420) and intentional walks (32), finishing runner-up to Josh Hamilton in the MVP vote. On May 28th, he had the first three-home run game of his career, against the Oakland Athletics; he drove in 4 runs, but the Tigers still lost, 5-4. From June 19th to July 16th, he enjoyed a 20-game hitting streak, batting .397 (29-for-73) with 12 extra-base hits and 19 RBI. Unfortunately, Cabrera suffered a relapse of his drinking problems as 2011 spring training was getting under way. On the evening of February 16th, he was arrested in Fort Pierce, FL as he stood intoxicated and disoriented beside his car. He later explained that he had been driving to the Tigers camp in Lakeland 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 on February 25th and apologized for his behavior while confirming he would undergo a treatment program. MLB issued a statement that warned he could face more serious consequences if he were to be involved in another alcohol-related incident.
On the field, Cabrera reached 300 career doubles on April 11, 2011. He became the second MLB player to reach the mark before his 28th birthday - Joe Medwick had been the only other. 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, slugged at a .586 clip and, for the first time, drew more than 100 walks with 108. He was named to the All-Star team for the 6th time of his career. 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. 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, son of former Detroit slugger Cecil, to a huge long-term contract. Given that Fielder had no position other than first base, it was announced Cabrera would move back to third base in order to have the two big bats in the lineup 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 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, as he made the All-Star team once again, then on July 22nd, he 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 (part of a .330/.393/.606 slash line) 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, a Canadian, 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 an 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 hit a two-run homer off CC Sabathia in Game 4, extending both streaks and helping propel the Tigers into the 2012 World Series as a result of a four-game sweep of the Yankees. 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. The Giants battled 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 rookie 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 Triple Crown, because the multi-dimensional Trout had finished ahead of Cabrera on a number of sabermetrical measures, such as Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and 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, 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, only for Prince Fielder to follow with a bases-clearing double. Even with all of that, and as was the case in his first three-homer game in 2010, the Tigers still lost, 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 off the league leaders. Continuing his hot hitting, he got some help from [[2013 Indians|Cleveland Indians] center fielder 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 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 AL Player of the Month Award for May, as he finished the month with a .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, besting a 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 AL Player of the Month in August, even though he missed some games with a sore back; he hit .356 with 11 homers and 31 RBI during the month. He finished the year with a career-high .348 average (part of a .348/.442/.636 line, all league leading totals), winning his third straight AL batting title, and was second to Davis in both homers and RBI. He missed a number of games down the stretch with various ailments, particularly a badly pulled groin muscle, which allowed the O'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 reached 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, 1-0, and the Tigers were eliminated in 6 games. After the season, he was named winner of the Hank Aaron Award for a second straight year and beat out Chris Davis to win his second straight AL MVP. He underwent surgery to address the groin tear which had slowed him down considerably down the stretch.
On November 20, 2013, the Tigers sent Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in a trade for second baseman Ian Kinsler. One of the objectives of the trade was to allow the Bengals to move Cabrera back to first, 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 previously 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 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. He batted .313/.371/.524, slugging 52 doubles and 25 homers with 109 RBI. The Tigers were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS.
Cabrera got off to another hot start in 2015. 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. 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 number 400 against Tyler Lyons of the St. Louis Cardinals, one day after fellow likely future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre reached the mark. Miguel was having another great season, hitting .344 with 10 homers and 29 RBI 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 the game in the 4th inning with a strained calf, an injury sustained 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 bowed out because of the injury. His absence was very costly for his team, as when he came back to action, the Tigers had fallen 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 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. All told, he hit .338/.440/.534, leading the AL in average and OBP.
In 2016, he was named the AL Player of the Month for September as he hit .349 with 10 homers and 27 RBI 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 .316/.393/.563 and his power numbers bounced back to their usual levels: 31 doubles, 38 homers and 108 RBI. He was particularly strong 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 center fielder in Detroit. In 2017, 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 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/.329/.399, all career lows, with 16 homers and 60 RBI in 130 games, numbers all well below his usual production.
In 2018, he hit a solid .326 in 25 games in April, along with 3 homers and 21 RBI, 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" (a hilarious declaration for Samson to make since the Marlins were almost always rebuilding and crying poverty). 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/.395/.448 with 3 homers and 22 RBI in 28 games. He struggled with knee injuries throughout 2019, beginning the transition into full-time designated hitter duties. It was another struggle. He played 136 games but his slash line continued to implode, finishing a tepid .282/.346/.398 with only 12 home runs in 493 at bats.
Through 2010, the similarity scores method showed the most similar players through age 27 as legends 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. 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 RBI among players born in Venezuela. Entering the 2020 season, he was just 23 home runs short of 500 and, at 2,815 hits, would need at least one strong season to push himself passed the sacred 3,000 plateau. A look at the similarity scores now puts Chipper Jones as his closest comparison, although not truly similar, with Hall of Famers Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Thomas and Billy Williams among his top 10.
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. In December 2018, another court order upped to amount to $20,000 per month, although Cabrera filed an appeal and a judge agreed to re-consider the amount in light of the State of Florida's laws governing such cases.
- 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
|Justin Verlander||Miguel Cabrera||Miguel Cabrera|
|Miguel Cabrera||Miguel Cabrera||Mike Trout|
- 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
- Most consecutive seasons receiving MVP votes, from start of career: 14 (2003-2016)
- Second-most consecutive seasons receiving MVP votes: 14 (2003-2016; trailing Hank Aaron)
- Scored 10 runs in 7 games in the 2003 NLCS
- Ted Berg: "Miguel Cabrera feels unappreciated, so here are 9 things to appreciate about him", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, May 17, 2018. 
- Anthony Fenech: "Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera: 'I want to finish my career here'", Detroit Free Press, May 29, 2018. 
- Anthony Fenech: "Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera's season-ending injury bad from all angles", The Detroit Free Press, June 13, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "MLB legends Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols out to prove age is no burden", USA Today Sports, May 16, 2017. 
- Mike Petriello: "Miggy may actually be underrated: Hit Probability shows Tigers slugger deserved more production", mlb.com, March 28, 2017. 
- 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. 
- Jeff Seidel: "Tigers' Miguel Cabrera special, but how much longer can he dominate?", Detroit Free Press, January 21, 2017. 
- George Sipple: "Miguel Cabrera will miss rest of season with biceps tendon rupture", USA Today Sports, June 12, 2018. 
- Shawn Windsor: "Miguel Cabrera reminds us watching decline of future Hall of Famers never easy", Detroit Free Press, June 6, 2019.