There are quite a few reasons for Tigers’ fans to be concerned about the team at this point, but is the slow start of Miguel Cabrera one of them? Eight games into the 2014 season and our two-time MVP is struggling, batting just .250 with an on base percentage of .294 and slugging .406 to give him an OPS of .700, a far cry from the nearly inhuman 1.000+ OPS we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Miggy throughout his career in Detroit. Since 2010, Miguel Cabrera has finished the season with an OPS below 1.000 only once, in 2012, and his OPS that year was .999. So what’s up with Miggy? And when is it going to stop?
The only one who can really answer those questions is the man himself. After Friday night’s shut out loss to San Diego in which Cabrera went 0-4 including hitting into a rally killing, inning ending double play when the Tigers had their only legitimate scoring chance of the evening, Cabrera answered questions about his struggles at the plate.
“I’m feeling good, but my swing is not right. My swing, he wants to pull the ball right now. In BP and when I work in the cage, I feel normal. When I come into the game, I see how I pull a lot of balls to third base and shortstop. My mechanics are terrible right now.”
Which begs the question, why? What happened to throw Cabrera’s swing into such uncharacteristic chaos? Well, playing injured last year certainly could be a factor, though this problem didn’t crop up in Spring Training. Miggy himself is a bit perplexed.
“I don’t know. Sometimes you have, like, bad habits. I don’t know if I took that from last year when I got injured, but I feel good. My mechanics are not very good but hopefully I can keep working, trying to swing more consistently. I mean, last year at some point, it was like that. Every year you have to make adjustments. You come through hard times once every year. It’s a hard game.”
It IS a hard game. The thing is, Miguel Cabrera usually makes it look easy. Fans of Cabrera and the Tigers, analysts and commentators and sports writers alike have grown accustomed to seeing Cabrera regularly pound the ball, making us forget how hard what he’s doing actually is. Right now, he’s making it look like work.
So. Should we be worried? My thought is no. We shouldn’t. Because Miggy isn’t worried. Because Brad Ausmus doesn’t seem to be worried either. Miguel Cabrera is still the best hitter in baseball, an 8 for 32 start to the season hasn’t changed that. And don’t forget that just last week he went 4 for 5 in a game against the Orioles and notched his 2,000th career hit. Don’t be discouraged about the bat of Miguel Cabrera, because Miggy will get his swing right and will be making us gape in wonder at his awesomeness again, soon. And when that happens, his slow start and funky mechanics will be forgotten. If anyone can figure it out, it’s Miggy.