Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gr8: #1 Miguel Cabrera, Man of Redemption

The “Great Eight of 2011” will be a look at the eight Tigers that impressed me the most in 2011. The order I am choosing these players in is not necessarily who the best overall player was. No, these guys are simply the ones that made me say “wow” more than anyone for whatever reason. 

In March, Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi speculated that Miguel Cabrera was headed for his worst season as a pro, due to his DUI arrest and a slow start in Spring Training.

Yahoo’s resident jackass Jeff Passan mocked the Tigers organization and Cabrera for how they chose to handle Miguel’s off field incident.

The Freep’s Drew Sharp called for the Tigers to suspend Cabrera indefinitely to start the season.

Michael Rosenberg of the Freep wrote that Cabrera could turn up in more mugshots.

Lynn Henning of the Detroit News speculated that Big Mig’s career may be near an end.

And my least favorite writer in the history of writers, Mitch Album, referred to Cabrera as “a public menace”.

I was beyond annoyed with these clowns at the time and nine months later, I still haven’t forgiven any of them for the ignorant, ill-informed reaction pieces these “professionals” presented at the time. If you weren’t around this normally goofy blog then, it took a serious tone for a week as I defended Cabrera from these thoughtless attacks. If you wish to review them and read the full articles, click on the “Miguel Cabrera” tag and you can go back and check them out.

The point is, all of these “experts” were wrong. The Tigers and Miguel Cabrera were right in how they chose to handle his admittedly poor decision to drink and drive on his way to Spring Training. He somehow managed get his life together and focus on doing his job, putting together one of the finest seasons anyone has seen of a player in a Tiger uniform.

And for that, and the other reasons I’m about to get into, is why Miguel Cabrera is #1 on my list of Tigers that impressed me the most on the field in 2011. The man was simply outstanding.



Stats and AL Ranks via baseball-reference.com

WAR: 7.1 (4th)
Offensive WAR: 7.8 (2nd)
Average: .344 (1st)
OBP: .448 (1st) (also 28 points higher than his 2010 league leading total)
SLG: .586 (2nd)
OPS: 1.033 (2nd)
Games Played: 161 (1st)
Runs: 111 (4th)
Hits: 197 (5th)
Total Bases: 335 (3rd)
Doubles: 48 (1st)
Home Runs: 30 (10th)
RBI: 105 (6th)
Walks: 108 (2nd)
OPS+: 181 (2nd)
Runs Created: 149 (1st)
Adj. Batting Runs: 71 (1st)
Adj. Batting Wins: 6.9 (1st)
Extra Base Hits: 78 (3rd)
Times on Base: 308 (1st)
Intentional Walks: 22 (2nd)

He hit .353 against righties. .319 against lefties. .349 at home. .339 on the road.

Cabrera hit .311 in the first half. After the break, he upped that to .385.

Going after the first pitch, he hit .438. With runners in scoring position, Mig was money, hitting .388. Two outs and RISP? How about .382?

He hit .313 against Kansas City, .364 when playing Minnesota, .377 against Cleveland, and .388 vs. Chicago. That’s how you lead a team to a 50-22 record inside their division.

Yeah, national writers. They shouldn’t have let him play. That menace.

And Cabrera didn’t have to deal with just the guilt of his poor offseason decision and the scorn of the press. He had fans taunting him for being a drunk in probably every road game he played. Ironically, many of these fans were drunk themselves. And I personally witnessed him have to deal with it at Comerica Park, too, from several of the Detroit “faithful”.

He played with the knowledge of his wife being pregnant and finally giving birth to his first son in August. He dealt with the frustration of being pitched around all season and with a lack of runners on base in front of him. Yet he made it all work.

He hit walkoffs, he made key hit after key hit, and he even showed some decent leather from time to time. Cabrera did it all with a playful grin on his face and always had a pat on the back for a teammate. When the Tigers clinched the AL Central in Oakland, he sat and smiled while sipping a bottle of water, watching his teammates celebrate with the most content look on his face.

And in an overlooked moment that was the icing on the cake for me on what was one of the most dominant seasons I’ve ever witnessed by a Tiger, Miguel Cabrera strode to the plate with 2 outs in the 8th inning of Game Six of the ALCS against the Rangers with his team down 15-4 and the season all but over. Instead of going through the motions, he launched an 0-1 Mike Adams pitch into the left-center stands for one final majestic homer on the season. Unbelievable.

There is no quit in Miguel Cabrera. THAT is what I love and respect about this man.

And though Morosi retracted his statement after the season, I’ve yet to see any other writers do it. Just TODAY, I heard some dicksnot call in to the local sports talk radio show here in Toledo and say the team should dump Cabrera and go after Prince Fielder because Miguel just “isn’t very good”. What more must this man do to gain the respect he deserves?

Fuck the haters. They make me want to retch.

I’d like to be able to say that I was the only guy to have Cabrera’s back in the aftermath of his drunk driving arrest. But there was another guy that had the balls to speak up for him when asked how it would affect the team. His name is Jim Leyland.

“It has no effect. It might make some dramatic reading material. It’s not going to do shit. Believe me. Nothing.”

Well said, Skip, but Cabrera did affect the team in one big way. He led them to their first Division Championship since 1987.

And he damn near led them to the World Series. On behalf of Mr. Cabrera, who would never say such a thing, I would like to extend an invitation to all the writers, players, and fans who doubted and mocked him to pucker up and kiss his Venezuelan ass.

Miguel Cabrera is the man. And I’m extremely proud and grateful to call him a Tiger.

10 comments:

kalinecountry said...

Cabrera is a once in a generation type hitter. Power from foul line to foul line with excellent averages. Kaline was the closest, just had a 4 on the power scale, Cabrera's comps at baseball reference are Aaron, Frank Robinson among others.
Over at baseball think factory, the 2012 Tigers Zips also has extrapolated career numbers. Cabrera is on pace for near 3300 hits, 540 HR's and near 700 doubles.

Jay Hathaway said...

Word the fuck up, homey!
Seriously, did someone really say that he "wasn't very good?"  I would have pulled the car over (assuming that's where I was listening to the radio) and punched the first person I saw in the junk.  So what if he doesn't hit 50 HRs a year?  The man is on base nearly one in every two at bats!  Fuuuuck! No respect for a real hitter.  I'm gonna make him a Charlie Brown yellow and black jersey to play in next year.  Good grief!

Mlr515 said...

THANK YOU!

Sutelc said...

Preach.

PaulBakosNumberOneFan said...

Love the doubles stat. Roiders and fat doods hit HRs. Hittes hit doubles.

SRogo said...

Yeah, it was on the Norm Wamer show. I usually can't stand Norm, but even he basically said the guy was clueless. I almost drove off the road.

Sutelc said...

The guy's favorite player is probably either Brandon Inge or Don Kelly.

Robeartoe said...

very well said and mitch album takes it in the ass. hope I don't get in trouble for that.

Stroppy36 said...

Whatever. The fact he can hit a baseball hard and had a great season isn't the point. The point is he's had multiple alcohol related incidents that included mocking a fat kid, coming home drunk before a key series causing his wife to call the cops, and then blew 3 times the legal limit after threatening to blow up a BBQ place that wouldn't serve him. And oh there's was a fifth of gin on the seat next to him.

Poor Miggy! Persecuted by the haters! Making 20 m a year and not missing a single paycheck. Man, things are rough for him.

Jimmy Bell said...

The point of baseball is his production. They're not in the business to be good guys who always do the right thing. If that were a requirement, there wouldn't even be an NBA or NFL. The bottom line is Cabrera wasn't a distraction, and he wasn't distracted by his issues. All he did was correct them, go on to have one of the best offensive seasons in Tigers history, and do it quietly with a smile on his face.