Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Gr8: #1 Miguel Cabrera, Man of Redemption
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.