There is no doubt that Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters on the planet, if not history. However, with just two extra base hits since August 26th, the Detroit Tigers might have jeopardized their goal of winning a World Series by allowing Cabrera to try to play through injuries in his pursuit of winning a second straight Triple Crown.
Cabrera has been battling several injuries this season from groin issues to abdominal problems. Watching Cabrera swing the bat you can tell he is just not comfortable up there. He is all upper body and moves very little below the waist. A lot of Cabrera’s power is generated from getting his big, powerful body in motion and getting the torque necessary. Right now, he is trying to do everything with his arms and that has resulted in a .250 batting average (3-for-12 heading into Game Four of the ALDS) with just one RBI. All three of Cabrera’s hits have been singles.
We are talking about a guy who will likely win his second straight MVP, a man who hit 44 home runs and drove in 137 runs and scored 103. In the month of August, Cabrera hit .356 with an OPS of 1.162. In September he managed only a .278 average and .729 OPS. His slugging percentage dipped 40 points in September from .676 to .636.
Why wouldn’t the Tigers place Cabrera on the 15-day DL and let him recover a little before the playoffs? He injured his abdomen in late August. There was plenty of time to give him two weeks to rest. That didn’t happen as Cabrera had a legitimate shot at winning the Triple Crown. He still managed to finish second in home runs, still led the league in batting average and finished just one RBI short of the league lead in that category. Had he been healthy he almost certainly would have passed Chris Davis in the RBI category and would have come close to beating out Davis in the home run category.
Still, on an almost daily basis, Cabrera was in the lineup, a shell of his healthy self. Now, the Tigers are facing elimination and one of the main reasons is the lack of production from Cabrera. If the Tigers fail to win the World Series this season they will have no one to blame but themselves because they didn’t do the right thing and place their star player on the disabled list when there was time to help him recover before the playoffs started.
One can certainly make the argument that without Cabrera the Tigers might not have won the division. Maybe, but he certainly didn’t contribute much down the stretch and a rested and healthier version of Cabrera might have had a bigger impact on the race.
With Cabrera batting third the lineup has struggled along with Cabrera. The Tigers are struggling to score runs, scoring a total of six runs against the Oakland Athletics in the first three games of the ALDS. This should happen to a team that scored 796 runs over the course of 162 games.
The Tigers and Cabrera have no one to blame if they get bounced. It was their collective decision to let Cabrera play through tough injuries that led the Tigers to where they are right now, on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs.