It’s fair to guess that Cabrera’s overall numbers in 2020 would pale in comparison to his overall body of work, but seeing Miggy below AL average in stats (through September 4) like wRC+ (MC: 95, AL: 100); wOBA (MC: .313, AL: .318): SLG (MC: .386, AL: .415): ISO (MC: .136, AL: .173): and even BABIP (MC: .277, AL: .290) hurts.
He’s not making as much contact in comparison to the league (MC: 71.3%, AL: 75%). He’s not seeing as many pitches inside the strike zone (MC: 38.7%, AL: 41.4%), although he’s making slightly better contact on pitches in the zone (MC: 85.6%, AL: 83.9%). He really lags behind when it comes to making contact on pitches outside the zone (MC: 50%, AL: 61.2%), and he used to be so much better at that (with a range of 61.7-75.9% since he’s been a Tiger).
In a shortened season where we have momentarily talked about the Tigers and playoff contention in the same sentence, how much of an overall positive difference could it have made if Cabrera was even slightly above league average in those categories where he’s lacking?
Miguel Cabrera is a hitter whose reputation has often preceded himself. Over the years, many a pitcher has quivered with fear at the thought of facing the fearsome Cabrera. During the apex of Cabrera’s career, when he was collecting MVP awards and notching Triple Crowns, Cabrera was treated like a king. The Tigers’ slugger has always had a discerning eye, taking walks at an above-average clip, but during his peak years, he was walking at nearly double the MLB average (for example, in 2011 Cabrera walked 15.7% of the time, compared to the 8.1% walk rate of his MLB compatriots).
He was also striking out a minuscule amount compared to the average ballplayer, posting respectable strikeout numbers through much of his career, including his twilight years. Cabrera made many ballparks look like bandboxes and many talented pitchers look like mere mortals with just the flick of his wrists.
Nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d compare Cabrera favorably to his glory days of the late aughts to early teens. Most fans lament the years gone by, and might even be counting down the days until the end of Cabrera’s Tigers deal. With all that being said, however, we are not here to wax poetically about Cabrera’s youth, nor are we here to lament the uncomfortable truth that Father Time comes for us all. No, we’re here to imagine a better world. A world in which we, the long-suffering Tigers fanbase, have been gifted a magical elixir that can turn back time.
What negative trait would you change about the current iteration of Miguel Cabrera? Well, can it be anything but his advancing age? One supposes one could wipe away his lengthy recent injury history or perhaps tweak a few bad habits he’s picked up along the way to compensate for the breakdown of his body, but Cabrera’s main problem is that he is no longer the young man he once was. He isn’t quite as quick to juicy fastballs he used to clobber when he was collecting batting titles. He has found himself cheating more often on tasty fastballs he used to gobble up, leaving him more vulnerable to pitchers’ offspeed offerings.
We have often found ourselves mournfully lamenting Cabrera’s inability to connect with a 92-mile-per-hour fastball he once destroyed in his prime, perhaps as often as we lament his vulnerability to not only sliders on the outside black, but also his vulnerability to the ravages of time. Turning back time would solve almost all of Cabrera’s present problems, even the nagging problem of his health! It is indeed painful to watch an athlete we have been privileged to admire at the height of his powers slide slowly and inexorably to the end of his career. But maybe that’s why we do take the time to celebrate Cabrera’s career, and every milestone, every smile, every playful jibe. One day Miguel Cabrera will no longer pull the old English D over his head and we’ll inevitably wish we just had a little bit more time.
Bryan Garcia on the surface has some good numbers. An ERA is 1.69 and has been effectively lately out of the bullpen, as Ron Gardenhire picks and chooses his spots. He has been called a future closer, based on his past experience while closing games at the University of Miami.
I would like to see his K per 9 go up closer to the league average of 9.36. He sits at 3.94, which puts him out of the conversation for now, at least, for the role of the closer. If he would have had 10 more strikeouts per his 16 innings pitched, he would be at the league average. While this is not a would of, could of, angle, it worth mentioning that you need to have at least an average K per 9 to be more of an effective reliever.
He has cut his walks down compared to last season (6.8 to 2.8) another number that pops out is his expected ERA, which is 4.30 (K% is 10%, among one of the lowest per Statcast). I believe Garcia will continue to grow as a reliever but perhaps a few minor bumps will be coming up down the stretch.