By: Holly Horning
Shame on anyone who bets against Miggy. There were many, media included, who felt Miggy would be diminished as a player this year or experience a slow, hard process coming back from his latest two surgeries. Really? After 12 years as one of the very best in the sport, what’s a guy gotta do to earn the benefit of the doubt?
There are many fine hitters, but there is only one Miguel Cabrera. If there is any constant on the team, it is Miggy. Two years of playing injured still earned him MVP and numerous other awards in 2013 and turned him from a phenomenal player into merely an excellent one in 2014.
And despite the hand-wringing over Miggy possibly not being ready for Opening Day, he not only made it back, but garnered this year’s first AL Player of the Week. Using the Cleveland Indians pitchers for batting practice, he hit .520, had 2 HRs and 8 RBIs in 6 games while being first in total bases, hits, OBP and RBIs. And he did it all with just two weeks of spring training. Imagine what he would have done if given more time to prep for the season!
Talk to any expert within baseball and they all point to a wide-ranging number of skills that contribute to Miggy’s success. It includes his mental approach, the ability to make adjustments, discipline, work ethic, baseball IQ, plate coverage and form/technique. Those on the field say Miggy is capable of reading the mind of the pitcher and adjusting accordingly. He’s just not a masher, he’s a pure hitter. He’s a smart hitter. And there are a lot of similarities to Ted Williams.
Case in point was Monday’s game. The Indians intentionally walked Miggy despite having a manager who loathes having to do such. He is 17th on the all-time IBB list of current and former players. (This stat includes over 1,000 players.) Conversely, Mike Trout rarely gets walked. Managers, who are the better analysts of talent, fear Miggy’s hitting acumen and ability to do damage more than they fear Trout.
But let’s look at another set of numbers. A more impressive set of numbers that prove what experts are already saying: Miggy has almost assuredly punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame. Let’s compare him to Hank Aaron using both players’ stats from the first 12 seasons.
While there are those who bemoan Miggy’s contract extension that will keep him in Detroit for the next decade, the decision by Mr. I was not solely based upon athletic performance. This was a concerted effort to keep Miggy as a Tiger until re-Tiger-ment. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist and sadly, this is only the first of many atrocious puns you will read from me.) Could any Tiger fan stand to see him wearing any other uniform?
Many years from now, we will thank Mr. I for his foresight and additional gift to the fans of seeing Miggy enter the Hall of Fame, wearing, what else? That Old English D. It has been 35 years since a Tiger was inducted and that number is, sadly, expected to increase. Only 8 Detroit players are in the Hall wearing the Tiger cap. Miggy will make it nine.