How the Detroit Tigers can get the most out of Miguel Cabrera in 2023
Miguel Cabrera won’t be a huge burden to the Detroit Tigers if they use him correctly
Last week, it was offically announced that Miguel Cabrera would be returning to the Detroit Tigers for the 2023 season, to some fans’ dismay and other fans’ joy. The fans that were happy with this announcement think he should able to go out on his own terms, while the other camp thinks he is a liabality and a waste of a roster spot, both of which are sound arguments.
But since we have to face facts, the Detroit Tigers will have to build a roster with a very expensive singles-hitter on it for next season. They’ll have to find a way to make the most of the situation, and there’s a way to do that—and it’s not as complicated as it may seem. In fact, it’s quite simple.
Think of what the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals have done with Albert Pujols the last two years. They’ve both used him as a lefty masher off the bench, or in a platoon role—and to great success. Pujols found new life in his career at the age of 41 (now 42).
He has a 148 wRC+ this year, and recently hit his 700th career home run. Last year against left-handed pitching with the Dodgers, he rocked a .953 OPS, and this season with the Cardinals, he’s got a 1.150 OPS and a whopping 214 wRC+ against southpaws. That’s insane at his age.
Now, Pujols doesn’t have chronic knee issues that prevent him from using his lower half to lift the ball, but it’s still awfully impressive for a 42-year-old to be putting up those kinds of numbers.
Miggy isn’t putting up anything close to those kinds of numbers against lefties the last two years, rocking a 97 wRC+ in 2021 and a 101 wRC+ in 2022, but if the Detroit Tigers want to maximize his production, this is probably what they’re going to have to do. They’re going to have to use him in a platoon role.
This would be good for a couple of reasons. One, he wouldn’t be out there every day, which would put less stress on his body. It would lessen the chance that his knees start to give out on him midseason like this year.
Second, it allows for an opportunity for someone like Kerry Carpenter to be a platoon bat against righties. Carpenter isn’t very good in the outfield anyway, so having him DH might be better for him going forward.
This would, of course, require that Cabrera swallows his pride a bit and accepts a part-time role. That may be hard for him to do, but that’s a conversation for A.J. Hinch and Scott Harris to have with him, and hopefully they already have.
Would I prefer that Miguel Cabrera not be on the roster next year? Yes. It opens up a roster spot for someone who’s more deserving. But it is what it is. The Detroit Tigers are going to have to work with what’s given to them.