By all accounts, Miguel Cabrera is having a very good season, topping the America League in doubles with 34 while leading all of baseball with 75 RBI. He's hitting .306/.364/.534 and deservedly playing in his ninth All-Star Game. But as impressive as his slash numbers are, they would be Cabrera's lowest totals since his first season as a Tiger in 2008
What is missing most from Cabrera's offensive game this year is power. With just 14 home runs, Cabrera is on track to for his lowest power numbers since his 2003 rookie campaign. Cabrera has averaged 36 home runs in his 11 previous seasons, while averaging 38 home runs a season during his first five years in Detroit. Cabrera's immense power peaked over the past two years, drilling 44 home runs in both 2012 and 2013 while winning back-to-back AL MVP awards.
Today Cabrera admitted what many have suspected. The injury which derailed Cabrera's final six weeks of 2013 and resulting post-season surgery is the cause of his power decline. Cabrera also says Justin Verlander, who underwent the same procedure in January and is on-track for the worst season of his career (8-8 W/L record, 4.88 ERA, 6.7 K/9), has the same recovery issues.
"There are times when I feel good, but there are always muscles that are tightening, muscles that are not functioning properly,'' Cabrera said in Spanish. "It's part of the process. The same thing is happening to Justin Verlander, but the difference is he pitches every five days, so you don't see it as frequently.
"But as he and I talked about, we're never going to offer any excuses for our performance. We always want to be out on the field and compete, and I think that's the most important thing we can do, compete and try to get past this tough time. And the main thing is we're in first place.''
Cabrera admits he still has issues in using the lower body in his swing.
"I think it has affected me quite a bit, like last year, when in the last month I wasn't using my bottom half, my feet and the waist area,'' Cabrera said. "I hope I can slowly regain that. The good thing is I haven't gotten too anxious. I just try to find ways to help my team win.''
That he is still helping the team win is true. Cabrera's contributions have helped the Tigers into first place in the AL Central, owning baseball's third best record at 53-38 while opening up the largest divisional lead in MLB at 6 1/2 games.
It does say volumes about Cabrera's talent as a hitter that he's still putting up All-Star numbers while being limited physically. But his admission confirms suspicions that we may not see the "real" Cabrera and Verlander until sometime in the second half, if not until 2015.