So anyone watching the game last night, or tuning into the game today knows that Miguel Cabrera, possibly the greatest Tiger of all time, is out for the next six weeks. He doesn’t need surgery, which is good I guess. But he might as well get it. Without him, this season is over.
If the Tigers were in first place by a few games, I might be optimistic about their chances of getting through this. If the Tigers were able to score runs consistently, I would be much more optimistic. But neither is the case. This team has the talent to overcome losing Cabrera, but they have yet to put it together this season. No one can really point to why, but a lot of people are pointing to who: Ausmus.
I won’t get into that today, but I just want to talk about Cabrera and what he means to this team.
In 2014, Cabrera finished 9th in MVP voting, which I think was generous. But the previous two years he finished 1st back to back. No one was really talking about it much (I’ll get into why in a minute), but he was well on his way to a top 3 finish, if not another MVP trophy for his trophy case that has to be getting cramped at this point.
Here are some raw stats. He was first in the following categories: Batting Average (oh yeah, let’s not forget a fourth batting title), On Base Percentage, On Base Percentage Plus Slugging, OPS+, Intentional Walks (this doesn’t matter really but I think it is funny), Runs Created, Adjusted Batting Runs, Adjusted Batting Wins, Times on Base, Offensive Win %, RE24. He is second in the following categories: Slugging %, Win Probability Added. He is third in the following categories: Offensive WAR, Hits, RBI. And his defense has not been terrible. It hasn’t really been good either, but he isn’t really a liability over at first base.
The reason no one is pounding the MVP drum for Cabrera is simple, He isn’t leading in traditional stats. MVP voters love to give the award to guys with the most homers and RBI. If they consider themselves a “stat guy”, then they might look at Total Bases or Extra Base Hits. Now, all of those stats are great, and valuable, and should be included in the consideration. However, I doubt any hitter is in the top three of so many different offensive categories (I didn’t even list them all here, I got tired of going through them), especially on a team who has had a struggling offense.
There is a factor that might matter more, he is not on a team really even sniffing first place. Most guys vote that the team has to be in contention in September. And I don’t really disagree. Even if Cabrera stayed healthy this year, he might not win the MVP based on that reason alone.
So, what is the conclusion? Well, no team can lose a top three MVP candidate, while in third place, six games back, for six weeks, with half the season left to play, and expect to make it to the post-season.
2015, say goodbye to the Tigers. This year is over. Let’s try to figure out some of our issues before games start to matter again, next April.