Early on the Tigers used the DH as the pasture to which famed 1960s-era Tigers were put. The first season (and, indeed, the first at bat) was taken by Gates Brown. (He of the amazing 234 OPS+ in 1968.) 1974′s DH? Al Kaline, in his final season in the MLB. You could argue it worked out OK. His OPS+ of 107 was the third-highest among regular players that year. In 1975-76 the Tigers introduced Willie Horton to the mix. His 106 OPS+ may not sound that impressive, but just keep in mind the team’s leader had 107 that year.
Jackson reached base to lead off the first inning in each of the first five games for the Tigers and scored in the first inning in four of those five games. Cabrera knocked in at least one run in each of the first five games prior to the 7-0 shutout the Tigers suffered Sunday afternoon. Cabrera has not shown much power, but he is hitting .304 with six RBIs. Jackson is hitting .375 and has drawn a team-high five walks.
The Tigers have made the postseason two years in a row for the first time since 1934-35. They have a player payroll approaching $150 million. Arguably their batting order and starting pitching rotation are the best in baseball. This isn’t like the Yankees and the Red Sox and all the years they jockeyed back and forth over winning a division title. The American League Central is decidedly mediocre. The Tigers won it last season with just 88 victories – and it might not even take that many wins to capture it again.
Right-handed batters have hit .301 off Coke over his career, including .396 last season. Left-handed hitters have hit .232 against him.
“What’s amazing to me is that they’re like that, because he has an excellent change-up and a good breaking ball,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Coke’s stats against righties.
As Cabrera stood in a side room at the Capital Grille for photographs Monday evening, he did his best to be the gracious host. For close to an hour, people lined up — fans, colleagues, coaches, even teammates. Cabrera smiled for them all and thanked them. This was an occasion for them all to take a photo with a player on track for the Hall of Fame.
More importantly, this was a chance for one of baseball’s greats to give back. Monday’s dinner, and the live auction that went with it, raised money for the Miguel Cabrera Foundation, as well as the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities.