The last time Miguel Cabrera was producing at an All Star level on a competitive team was 2016. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since he had a .300 batting average.
Despite the struggles of those years, and even though it has been six seasons since Cabrera was performing at an All Star level, I believe we’re about to see a resurgence and watch Cabrera go out like David Ortiz, as one of the best designated hitters in the league.
Miguel Cabrera has stated he will play this season and next, and then retire. So let’s revisit the last two years of Big Papi’s career to get a sense of how he finished his run on Boston.
In his age 39 season, Ortiz hit .273 with 108 RBIs and was 28th in MVP voting. In is final season, at age 40, David Ortiz hit .315 with 127 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage, and he was an All Star who won a Silver Slugger and finished 6th in MVP voting.
Currently there is nothing to indicate Miguel Cabrera will finish his career as strongly as Ortiz. But here are three reasons why I believe he will:
Miguel Cabrera Likes Javier Báez
Javier Báez is one of the reasons Miguel Cabrera moved to the 5th spot in the lineup for the first time since 2008. I believe Javier Báez arrival already has and will continue to reinvigorate Cabrera. Both are outgoing gregarious players who feed off the energy in the locker room.
Cabrera has been notoriously reserved when it comes to speaking with the press, but it’s clear he enjoys his teammates. Combine that with the fact that Báez is an All Star player with Hall of Fame potential who clearly looks up to Cabrera, and that should be an additional motivating factor for Cabrera.
Miguel Cabrera Has Found Personal Peace
It’s no secret Cabrera has been through a lot of personal drama. It’s probably not a coincidence that the first public airing of that dirty laundry started in 2016, the last season Cabrera was a true force in the American League. With all of that firmly in the rearview mirror, Cabrera can focus on his game first.
In addition to the settling of his personal life, his recent run to 500 HRs and 3,000 hits has brought a resurgence in the appreciation of Cabrera’s place among the all-time greats. That will no doubt go a long way toward allowing Cabrera to put all his mental focus on the field, and empower him to continue building his legacy and hold onto his place in the 3,000, 500, .300 club.
Miguel Cabrera Loves Winning
It’s hard to understand what it must be like to live in Cabrera’s shoes. He is now making $32 million a year to play baseball, and his on-field performance has not been worth his salary for a few years.
Most Detroit Tigers fans look at him as a drain on the payroll. But from his point of view, it must have been hard for Cabrera to go to work every day for the last five years and put in his best effort knowing the team was not capable of being competitive.
With Cabrera having won a World Series and four straight division titles, I can’t imagine what it was like to play on a last place team going nowhere fast.
I think Cabrera will be reinvigorated by the fact he is on a winning team again. He understands as the team improves and he ages, that his role must change. Between his willingness to be a full time DH to allow Spencer Torkelson to play ,and his agreement to hit lower in the order, it’s clear being on a competitive team has changed the way Cabrera thinks and ultimately plays the game.
I believe these three reasons, combined with Cabrera’s otherworldly hand eye coordination and eye for the strike zone, will lead to an increase in his production during his last two seasons.
I don’t think he’ll rediscover his power stroke from his youth, but I see him hitting .300 with 20 Doubles and 15 HRs, while matching Ortiz’s on-base percentage and RBI totals for the next two seasons. Numbers that should allow Miguel Cabrera to add at least one, if not two more All Star appearances to his Hall of Fame resume.