DETROIT -- The Miguel Cabrera that fans have seen for the last three years was a hitter to be feared. And he wasn't even healthy. Who he is now should be downright terrifying to opposing pitchers. Not since he won the Triple Crown in 2012 has Cabrera looked as powerful as he does right now.
Cabrera is on some kind of special tear. Not even a hit by a pitch in his knee on Sunday could slow him down. But two weeks ago there was talk that Cabrera, struggling to get hits for power, was done. Washed up. Finito. Cabrera's only 33 years old, so the idea that he'd suddenly dried up was an interesting one, to say the least. Let them talk, Cabrera says.
"That just shows that the game can be crazy and frustrating at times," Victor Martinez said of his teammate. "You know, I bet you there was a lot of people talking, 'Oh, Miggy's done,' this and that. I really want to hear what they say now. With all due respect to other players around the league, for me he's the best hitter in the game. That just shows you he's human. He's allowed to struggle once in a while!"
On May 15, Cabrera was hitting .285/.363/.464 with six home runs, 20 RBI, and seven doubles on the year. He'd struck out 27 times and walked 17. Respectable for any hitter, but he'd gone through some prolonged dry spells in April. From May 1-15 he started to heat up, batting .314/.407/.451 with two homers and eight RBI.
Then came the current homestand, but to be fair the hot streak really started during the last two games of the four-game series in Baltimore. He has not struck out since May 13. Ten days and he hasn't struck out. Since that date, Cabrera is batting .515/.564/1.242 (no, not a typo) with seven home runs, 12 RBI, surprisingly only one double, and four walks. He's grounded into just two double plays and his batting average for the season is up to .327 -- it jumped 42 points in the last 10 days.
He hit his 500th career double in the seventh inning, the 62nd player in MLB history to reach that mark. Any other ballpark and it would've gone out. He's had two two-homer games in the space of four games. He even had a triple on May 17 for good measure, because that's just how things are going for him right now. Six of his last nine games have been multi-hit games.
Cabrera is locked in on another level. Considering he's won a Triple Crown and several batting titles, that's insane to say. Manager Brad Ausmus, while he hasn't seen Cabrera play while he's fully healthy until this year, said this stretch is the best Cabrera has looked during his tenure. Still, it's hard to judge Cabrera's "best-ever" list when his best is lined with titles and broken records.
"I mean, I win a triple crown," Cabrera said. "I have three or four batting titles, I got 10 years at like 100 RBIs and stuff like that, so I've been hitting .300 for a lot of years. I don't know. I hope I can keep it like this."
After three straight years of playing through injury and somehow still putting up All-Star and batting title numbers, Cabrera has one hope. To stay healthy. Opposing pitchers may not be looking forward to facing him, but that's their problem, not his. The bigger picture for Cabrera is helping the team, per the usual. If it doesn't result in a win, he doesn't care.
Admittedly, he confessed that the team has struggled with offspeed pitches and first-pitch pitches, so that Phillies starter Vincent Velasquez couldn't command his offspeed stuff was a gift wrapped presentation for the Tigers on Monday night. Cabrera, though, hasn't struggled with much of anything lately, as he's feasting on just about everything he sees. He's seeing the ball much better, he acknowledged, and that's been key after April's struggles. Now, he's unstoppable.
"Any time you get a guy like Miguel going, you see the damage he does," J.D. Martinez said. "It's not a guy getting on base and stealing bags and just kinda doing that. He's a guy that changes the game with one swing of the bat.
"Anytime you get a guy like that going, you put the thought of 'who do I want to face, who do I not want to get on-base, because I don't want guys on-base when he comes up (to bat) because he's hot right now.' And everybody knows when he's hot, it doesn't matter who's pitching. He's gonna touch 'em and he's going to hit 'em."