Detroit Tigers: Constructing the Opening Day Lineup for 2021
Batting Third: DH Miguel Cabrera
Jim Price changed forever how I hear “batting third, the big man, Miguel Cabrera” but I digress.
Cabrera showed improvement in this weird, strange shortened season with improvements from his 2019 season with increases in exit velocity, barrel % hard-hit contact and the power flickered on again, to the tune of 10 home runs, which was in 57 games, compared to 10 in 136 games in 2019. Even in the stats like XBA, he hit .291 and he was able to walk at a clip closer to his 11.3% rate with a 10.4% walk rate.
Even with his bad start in July, batting .133 in the first 8 games, like Jeimer Candelario, Cabrera picked it up in August which is when the Tigers started to pick it up as a ballclub.
The big man turns 38 in April and whether there is a full season or not, the uptick in Cabrera’s production was a much-needed sight for the lineup that lacked power in 2019. Cabrera has stated he wants to play first base again at some point in 2020 but it appears to save the bat a bit, they will keep him at DH and they should.
If the future Hall of Famer can repeat his performance of an OPS+ of 102 or near it, that can help protect the cleanup hitter. You can tell the big man is slowing down a bit but it appears on the surface, he is healthier than he has been in quite some time.