Every weekday between now and mid-November, we'll be looking closer at a Tigers player. For more information on the series, including a schedule, please check this post out.
He mashes, he smashes, he inspires comic book images*! Is Miguel Cabrera the MVP? While I think he deserves it, it's far from a guarantee that he'll win it. Cabrera put up huge numbers and almost completely carried the Tigers' offense after fellow Venezuelans and were lost to injury. Sure he couldn't have done it alone, but the Tigers couldn't have been .500 without him.
Sure, Cabrera isn't the perfect player. He's not going to be a Gold Glove first baseman any time soon. But really, none of that matters much, does it? If Cabrera doesn't earn the highest grade, then you've got a problem with your grading scale.
*SabreRoseTiger created the image
At the plate
It's hard to think what more you could want. It's like video game numbers. He gets on base 42 percent of the time? He slugging average is .622? That's unreal. You can tell from the number of intentional walks opposing managers wanted nothing to do with him -- in part because the guys who batted behind him didn't exactly knock the ball around during the second half.
In the AL, Cabrera ranked second in batting average, first in RBIs, third in home runs, first in on-base percentage and second in slugging average.
If you want to find a knock on him, he only had a .991 OPS with runners in scoring position. Yes, that's the knock on him. Point is, Cabrera was great.
In the field
By UZR, he was a few runs worse than the average first baseman.
Fans ranked him 10th on the team in terms of fielding ability, giving him slightly above-average grades. He was given above-average rating for instincts, hands and throwing. He was given below-average ratings for his fleet of foot, or lack thereof.
I feel like he was probably about an average first baseman. If a bit below, I don't feel like it's all that much.
What 2010 tells us about 2011
In trying to read the tea leaves, I look for stats that are out of line with career norms. A BABIP that doesn't line up with the expected, for example. That's not the case here, Cabrera's was actually beneath his career average. His strikeout rate decreased for the fourth consecutive year. His home runs per fly ball rate was only about 1.4 percent higher than normal, but within an acceptable range. Sure, he got on base a bit more because opposing teams didn't always give him something to hit, but otherwise I have to tell you: I think Cabrera's production in 2010 is pretty sustainable overall. You might want to bump down his slugging average a bit on general principle, but that's about it.
And I guess seeing as he's only age 27, we should expect that.
Miguel Cabrera: Simply incredible.