Jose Miguel Cabrera Torres is simply a man among boys. If anyone has had the fortune – or, depending on where you reside and whom you root for, the misfortune – of watching him play baseball, it’s difficult not to share the same sentiment. Since exploding onto the scene in 2003 at age 20, he has changed the sport in a time where performance enhancing drugs (PED) and steroids run rampant. Ryan Braun or any other major leaguer couldn’t even afford all the PEDs in the world it would take to hit the ball like “Miggy” can.
Cabrera, like many professional athletes, is a tortured soul. His struggles with alcoholism have been well documented. Nevertheless, it’s that combination of adversity, extreme talent and immeasurable discipline (Cabrera has been sober since 2010) that has carried him toward a second straight Triple Crown, a possible MVP award (if Max Scherzer doesn’t beat him there first), a third straight American League batting title, and what could be most important, a World Series trophy back in Detroit, their first in almost 30 years.
Any scout who has ever evaluated baseball talent on any level would concur that his skillset is unmatched on offense. He can hit for power, contact and average to all fields. His defense isn’t the greatest, but how many team players wouldn’t put up a stink when Prince Fielder was signed and moved to first base? Who wouldn’t love a multifaceted player on their team? I haven’t even gotten to his numbers yet, which will seal the deal for my case.
Cabrera is the only right-handed hitter in the live ball era to potentially win three straight AL batting titles. In statistics obtained from ESPN.com, the last right-hander to do it was Nap Lajoie in consecutive seasons from 1901-1904. He’s posted at least 30 home runs in nine seasons in the majors, including the last three seasons in a row.
He’s accounted for over 100 RBI’s in nine seasons, except his rookie season in which he only played 87 games. His play has resonated not just among Detroit Tiger fans, but purists of the game as well. You can take any players’ career statistics and match them up with Cabrera’s and most are incomparable.
Hank Aaron had more homers, Rod Carew had more career hits, but couldn’t hit for power only hitting 97 home runs in his career. Joe DiMaggio didn’t have the on-base percentage or the slugging Cabrera has. And if you put Ty Cobb in the modern era, there is no way he hits .366 for his career, as pitchers today are way more seasoned, conditioned and situational. The only players with his hitting capabilities were Rogers Hornsby, Jimmie Foxx, and maybe Albert Pujols, and if you saw Hornsby play and you’re still alive, my hat’s off to you.
The city of Detroit will never be as aesthetically beautiful as Los Angeles or Las Vegas. That will not matter to Detroit residents. The Motor City needs a winner.