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Detroit Tigers' player preview: Miguel Cabrera is still the best hitter in baseball

Miguel Cabrera can do more in an injury plagued "off year" than most players can do in a "career season"

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera finished the 2014 baseball season with bone spurs, and, as it turned out, fractures in his ankle that required surgery after the season. His numbers were down from previous seasons, but he still posted numbers that put him among the top ten hitters in the American league in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, wOBA, and runs scored. He was second in the league in RBI. That, for Cabrera, was an off year.

For the two time most valuable player and former triple crown winner, a batting line of .313/ .371/ .524/ .895 represent a drop off from his normal production. He put those numbers up, essentially hitting off one leg. All signs so far this spring indicate that Cabrera is healthy and ready to play ball in 2015, and that is welcome news for Tigers' fans.

In seven seasons, since the Tigers acquired Cabrera, he has won two MVP awards, one triple crown, three batting titles, two home run titles, and two RBI titles. He already ranks fifth in franchise history with 252 home runs, and is second behind Hank Greenberg in slugging percentage and OPS, with a franchise that began play in 1901.

Cabrera is 31 years of age, but already has eleven years and 101 days of service time in major league baseball between the Florida Marlins and Detroit. He has now played more games at first base than at any other position, logging 724 games at the premier sack, as well as 696 games at third base, and 347 games in the outfield.

Contract Status

Cabrera will earn a salary of $ 22 million for the 2015 season. His eight year contract extension kicks in for the 2016 season, which will pay him $ 248 million over eight seasons, at least through the 2023 season. The club has a pair of $ 30 million options for 2024 and 2025, with an $ 8 million buyout. At the time of signing, his contract had the highest total value in major league history. Since he has more than five years with Detroit, and more than ten years in the major leagues, he can not be traded without his consent.

Stats and projections

2014 685 25 101 109 1 .313 .371 .524 .384
Steamer 614 29 89 98 2 .315 .390 .547 .402
ZiPS 657 31 90 113 3 .310 .382 .542 .395

Trivia: Cabrera began his professional career as a shortstop in Rookie ball during the 2000 season. He remained a shortstop for two seasons before moving to third base at the request of then Marlins coach, Ozzie Guillen. He made his major league debut with the Marlins on June 20, 2003, and became just the third player in major league history to hit a walk off home run in his first game in the major leagues.