Detroit Tigers have the bases loaded and Miguel Cabrera is up to bat. This is a scary situation for every pitcher. Well, at least it used to be.
Just like all of the Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera is struggling at the plate and his numbers are not looking good right now.
Are we fans seeing the decline of the once Mighty Miggy?
Signs are pointing in that direction.
All fans need to do is think back to the last few times that Cabrera has been up to bat in one situation: bases loaded with two outs. In previous years, pitchers and managers had to question what to do with the Triple Crown winner. Now, it is easy enough to just pitch to him. This tweet says it all:
While it is difficult to think of the face of the Tigers actually performing below his expectations, it is realistic to understand that this is the Miguel Cabrera of 2016. During an interview in January, Cabrera was asked about how he felt coming into spring training. He replied: “I feel really good. I can normally do my workouts, so it makes you feel excited, makes you feel for the first time I’m going to be ready in spring training and for the season.”
Don’t get me wrong, just because Miguel Cabrera is only hitting .281 with 18 RBIs doesn’t mean his career is over. He has shown that his power is still there, but it appears that the power is not where it has been in the past. And, it is not coming through in the clutch situations.
At this point in the season in 2015, Cabrera had 28 RBIs and was hitting .338. Of course, the inconsistency of the batter in the two hole has decreased his RBI numbers, but the fact that his batting average is significantly lower is no one’s fault but his own. He already has four more strikeouts than he had last year. Of course, he did spend time on the DL in 2015, so it will not be feasible to compare numbers much deeper into the season.
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While there are many reasons why the Tigers have been disappointing this season, the decline of Cabrera is one that is the most difficult to admit. One other notable statistical decline is his OPS. Between 2004 and 2015, his lowest OPS was .887 in 2008 when he lead the league with 37 home runs. Between 2009 and 2013, the number never dropped below .942. In his last two shortened seasons (2014 and 2015), he earned OPS numbers of .895 and .974. So, his current OPS of .806 is a big drop off for a hitter who has so consistently made it to first base.
Once we, the fans, take off our Miggy-loving blinders, it is easy to see that he is no longer hitting the way he used to hit. His home runs aren’t as big – well, except for the one he hit on May 14, 2016, that traveled 464 feet into Camden Yards. And that home run was his first since April 29 when he knocked one in against the meager Minnesota Twins. He just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi that he once had.
Hopefully, this is all just a fluke and the Mighty Miggy will return to something that resembles some of his Triple Crown performance. But for now, he is looking like an aging baseball player who has seen better days.