Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
More than likely our All-Time Detroit Tigers third baseman will spend just two years at the position, but how could we not name Miguel Cabrera to Motor City Bengals’ All-Time Detroit Tigers team?
Cabrera will shift back to first base in 2014 after spending two seasons at the hot corner during Prince Fielder‘s brief tenure in Detroit. Certainly Miggy wasn’t the best defensive third basemen around, and the strain of the position may have hampered any possible recovery from various injuries down the stretch in 2013, but how can you knock those two years at third which included two MVP awards and the first Triple Crown in 45 years?
Haling from Venezuela, 20-year-old Cabrera burst on the scene with the Florida Marlins in 2003–making the jump all the way from Double-A. He would never return to the minors and instead would land in the clean-up spot for the soon-to-be World Champion Marlins. He helped to further the misery of the Chicago Cubs by pounding out three homers in the NLCS.
In 2005, Miggy hit over .300 for the first time (.323) and hit 33 homers for the second straight season. He was an NL All-Star from 2004 to 2007.
In one of the more lopsided trades in baseball history, the Florida Marlins, perhaps worried that Cabrera would command too much in future income, began shopping him around baseball. Many were interested, but the Detroit Tigers won the sweepstakes by shipping Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz, Burke Badenhop, Cameron Maybin and Mike Rabelo to Florida for Miggy and Dontrelle Willis. Before the start of the 2008 season, the Tigers agreed to an eight-year, $152.3 million contract.
Miggy didn’t miss a beat changing leagues. While his average dipped below .300 for the first time in four seasons, he still managed to hit 27 homers and drive in 127. The following year began his current streak of .300 seasons, and nearly each season has seen that average rise.
He won the Triple Crown in 2012 with numbers of .330, 44 homers and 139 RBIs (all career highs). And yet thorough much of 2013, he was on a better pace than his final 2012 numbers. Ultimately, the injuries hampered him and he again finished with 44 homers, good for second in the AL, but won his third straight batting title with an average of .348.
No one knows what the future for Miguel Cabrera holds in Detroit. One of the best pure hitters of this generation will be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. More than likely the Tigers will do all they can to hold on to him, but the then 33-year old is sure to command a pretty penny or two.
It’s worth noting that George Kell would have been the top pick for Tigers’ third basemen if not for Miguel’s incredible few years at the position.