Monday, May 20, 2013

Miguel Cabrera is the Best Detroit Tiger Hitter Since......

As I was watching Miguel Cabrera put on a hitting clinic during last night's game against the Texas Rangers on national television, it got me thinking.  How does Miguel Cabrera stack up against the best Detroit Tigers of all time amongst hitters.  So, I am going to do a comparison.  First, I will tell what Cabrera did in last night's game.
1st AB:  after falling behind 0-2 in count, works it a full and hits a single into left field.
2nd AB:  with 2 men on base, hits the first pitch 440+ feet into right field seats for a home run
3rd AB: once again falls behind 0-2 and works it full. This time, he hits a line shot just over the centerfield wall for a homerun
4th AB: with men on 1st and 2nd base, and goes ahead 2-1 in the AB, ends up being intentionally walked
5th AB: is behind once again 0-2, takes a pitch for a ball. Pitcher decides to go inside put not far enough. Cabrera pulls hands in and keeps his weight back as he swings and lines another shot over centerfield wall.

2012 Topps
For the night, a 4-4 game with 3 HRs and 5 RBIs which puts him ahead of his triple crown numbers from last year in RBIs and batting average.  With the old "if the season ended today", Cabrera would win his 3rd consecutive batting title.  This accomplishment would put him in a company of recent players such as Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs and  Rod Carew.  Of course, none of those are feared power hitters such as a Cabrera. Here is Cabrera's career stats:
So lets compare Cabrera with other Tiger greats, starting recently and working our way back in history:

Cecil Fielder:  in his six full seasons with a Tigers, he lead the league in RBIs 3 times and home runs twice, He was the first hitter in 1990 to slug 50 HRs in a season since 1977 and finished 2nd twice in MVP voting. But Fielder struck out a bunch which kept his batting average down.  Here is Fielder's stats: Advantage: Cabrera
1984 Detroit Tigers. Even though I personally think some do belong in the Hall of Fame. The fact that currently no one is inducted almost 30 years after winning the World Series tells me that no one is comparable to Cabera. Advantage: Cabrera
Al Kaline:  was a model of very good consistency over a long period of time which made him a great player. Kaline never hit over 30 home runs in a season, knocked over 100 RBIs only three times and won the batting average once. He finished top 5 in MVP voting four times, played in 15 All Star games and won 10 Gold Gloves. Kalline finished with 399 career HRs and over 3,000 hits for his career. Here is Kaline's career stats:  Since we are talking hitting only. Advantage: Cabrera
Hank Greenberg: In his 12 seasons with Detroit(he missed part of and some full seasons due to WWII), Greenberg lead AL in home runs three times(including one of yr of 58), RBIs, three times(including years of 170 and 183), runs scored and slugging once. He finished top 5 in MVP voting four times(twice winning). Greenberg had a consistenly better OPS(combined SLG and OBP) than Cabrera over their careers. If you compare Greenberg's 13 full seasons with Cabrera's 11, it is pretty similar. Greenberg's career stats:  Advantage: Greenberg right now, with Cabrera with a chance to surpass as years go by.

Ty Cobb: I am not going to begin to compare Cabrera with Cobb's accomplishments. Cobb is considered the best player ever in the deadball era of baseball(pre-1920). Cobb did win his triple crown with a nine home run season in 1909. So that gives you an idea of how the game was different then.  One can make an argument of how Cabrera would have played in that era and vice versa, but it is all speculation. Since we are comparing apples to oranges. I will leave this one alone. Here is Cobb's career stats:
There are also several other Tiger greats such as Charlie Gehringer, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann and George Kell. All of which Cabrera's numbers surpasses. So, Cabrera ranks up at the top with Hank Greenberg as the greatest Tiger hitter in the modern era
Oh, did I mention that Cabrera is only 30 years old with career stats of 332 HRS, 1170 RBIs, .320 avg and 1,869 hits thru last night's game. If he continues his same excellence in the coming years, Cabrera could reach 3,000 career hits around the age of 36(in comparison, Derek Jeter did it his age 37 year), By that time and with maintaining his minimum 30 HR and 100 RBI seasons, Cabrera would have over 500+ HRs and 1800 RBIs also. In addition, he could win more MVP awards, batting titles and possibly another triple crown. I also would not be surprised if he makes a run at hitting .400 in a season (1st since Ted Williams in 1941) or Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak.
Cabrera also has three more seasons left on his current contract. It would be interesting to see if the Tigers will resign him at the end of 2016 with already having to pay Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder's big contracts.  Will he continue to play in Detroit and reach all these milestones as a Tiger? One thing Kaline and Greenberg currently have over Cabrera is a World Series title and could be a factor where he plays. Bringing a World Series title in Detroit would cement his legacy among these greats.
Regardless, by the time Cabrera is enshrined in Cooperstown, he will not only be compared with Detroit Tigers' greats, but with the game's greats of all times. I hope current Tiger and baseball fans in general don't take him for granted and stop and watch his every at bat when you can.  One day, you can say to your kids and grandkids that you saw Miguel Cabrera hit and tell stories of games such as last night.

No comments:

Post a Comment