Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Is There Reason to Worry About Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera?

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.


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Tags: Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera

  • David Andrews

    I have noticed that, on this West coast trip, Miggy’s smile has gone south as well. Is the lack of smile a result of the poor hitting or related to the cause of the poor hitting? When your shoulders droop, it has to affect your swing?

    • Josie Parnell

      Great point. I would think that the missing smile is a product of the struggle, but of course that’s nothing more than my own speculation. Miggy works hard to make it look easy, but he is always kind of a clown, joking and laughing and poking fun. I can see where the struggle he’s facing now getting his swing back where it needs to be has taken up time that normally would be spent with him goofing around and having fun. So my prediction is, when the swing is back(and if his swings in last night’s game are an indication then it’s on it’s way) the smile will return too.

      You’re absolutely right though, it’s like what I wrote about Austin Jackson last month, the harder you push to make something work, the less it does and the more it all adds up to turn molehill into a mountain. If Miggy could get his easy, smiley demeanor back first, the swing may follow.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  • Cindy

    Hmmm, another product of a huge contract. Set for life and he doesn’t have to worry. Miggy and Verlander should start a club.

    • chrisHannum

      My understanding is that it tends to work the other way in this sport – big contract means more pressure

    • Josie Parnell

      I think the competitive edge that elite professional athletes have kinda guards against that, especially when we’re talking about players of the caliber of Verlander and Cabrera. In my opinion, it’s a bit unfair to accuse Miggy of taking the foot off the gas because of his contract when we’re only 11 games into the season. If you need proof that this slump is just that, a slump, instead of some premeditated “I’ve got my money, suckers, now I’m gonna stop trying” thing, these two lines are Miggy’s from his Triple Crown winning 2012 season:

      Apr 10-16: 3-25, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .120/.241/.160

      May 1-9: 6/34, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .176/.200/.235

      No mega-contract at this point in time, and a line worse than his current one:

      March 31- April 16: 10/44, 1HR, 6RBI, .227/.277/.364

      Also? Verlander had a bad season in 2013(bad for Verlander, I mean. Not bad for any mere mortal by any means), and got his business together when it really mattered. Plus he’s been pretty darn good so far this season.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!