December 31, 2012

2012 Top 10 Stories: #1 – Miguel Cabrera’s Monster Season

How thick is the lens in a pair of Oakley sunglasses? I don’t own the instruments to determine the precise measurement but I think it’s safe to say thick enough to not only protect Miguel Cabrera‘s eye but sturdy enough to save his season, possibly his career, and almost assuredly make a Triple Crown season possible.

imagescabrerahead.jpgIn my lifetime, the Tigers haven’t had a player like Cabrera – or anyone close  for that matter. Even the best players I grew up watching Jason Thompson, Steve Kemp, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson and Cecil Fielder, rarely assembled a season in any one offensive category that compares to what Cabrera did in three of the biggest in 2012.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a rundown of the countless ways he demolished major-league pitching (courtesy of the Tigers postseason media notes). Cabrera:

  • Led the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI to become the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did so in 1967. It marked the 14th time since 1900 a player captured the Triple Crown and Cabrera is the 12th player to accomplish the feat during that time. He’s the second Tigers player to do so, joining Ty Cobb (1909). He also joined Cobb by winning the A.L. batting title for the second straight season. The Peach did it in three straight seasons, from 1917-19.
  • Topped the American League with 377 total bases, 84 extra-base hits and a .606 slugging percentage, while he finished second with 109 runs scored and 205 hits, fourth with a .393 on-base percentage and seventh with 40 doubles.
  • Became the first Tigers player to connect for 40-or-more home runs in a season since Cecil Fielder hit 44 in 1991. It marks the 10th time in club history a Tigers player has hit 40-or-more home runs in a season and Cabrera is the sixth player in franchise history to do so. What’s more, he became the first player in Tigers history to belt 30-or-more home runs in five straight seasons.
  • Collected 139 RBI during the season, marking the fifth straight season he has posted 100-or-more RBI for the Tigers – he became only the third player in Tigers history to collect 100-or-more RBI in at least five straight seasons. Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann drove in 100-or-more runs in seven straight seasons (1923-29), and Charlie Gehringer did so in five straight seasons (1932-36).
  • Finished with 40 doubles and 44 home runs during the season, joining Hank Greenberg as the only two players in Tigers history to collect 40-or-more doubles and 40-or-more home runs during the same season. Greenberg accomplished the feat for Detroit in both 1937 and 1940.
  • Knocked 205 hits during the season, marking the first time he has finished with 200-or-more hits during a season – he became the 21st player in Tigers history to collect 200-or-more hits during a season.
  • Recorded 377 total bases during the season, marking the fifth straight season he has posted 300-or-more total bases for the Tigers – he became the first player in club history to post 300-or-more total bases in five consecutive seasons.

To the chagrin of many, this not only added up to a Triple Crown, it was the case for Cabrera winning the A.L. Most Valuable Player Award. His 2012 season might never be duplicated by a Tigers player – unless Cabrera himself matches it. For me, regardless of whether his award-winning season was universally acclaimed, it was thrilling to watch day in and day out and it is easily the top Tigers story in 2012.

And to think if not for a thin plastic lens we might not have witnessed it at all.

The Top 10 Stories of 2012

3 Comment(s)

  1. Lee Panas | Jan 1, 2013 | Reply

    What is most impressive about Cabrera is his consistent greatness. As great as he was this season, I don’t think it was even his best season. In terms of OBP and slugging, he was even better in 2010, 2011. His three-year run from 2010-2012 was the best for the Tigers since Cobb.

  2. Lee Panas | Jan 1, 2013 | Reply

    I will add that 2012 was his most memorable season because of the triple crown. I don’t put so much emphasis on the TC stats anymore, but the TC still has great historical significance.

  3. Jack Webb | Jan 8, 2013 | Reply

    I am 55 years old and I have been following the Tigers since 1964, and Miguel Cabrera is hands down the best Tiger hitter that I ever saw, it isn’t even close. For a player to hit.300 almost every year and knock in 100 every year is amazing. Almost every great hitter hits a lot of doubles, and only 2 other players have hit as many doubles as Miguel has from the start of their career,. Joe Medwick, and Albert Puljos! If Cabrera played in a more homer friendly park he would hit 40 homers almost every year. Another thing, so far his durability has been great. And as far the sabr stats go, these are things about ballplayers that every true fan has always known, such as Luis Aparicio’s base running and great fielding, Kaline, Clemente, and Evans rocket arms in right field, Bagwells ability to score runs, because he drew walks and was on base. Tori Hunter’s ability to chase down well hit balls in center field. etc.Cabrera even though he lacks range, was an adequate fielder in 2012. The one thing I think Cabrera could improve on in 2013 is to be more selective with the pitches he swings at, like he was in 2011, but then again I realize Fielder is more feared than Martinez was batting behind him. Tiger fans have been blessed to have a player like him, and I hope he can continue to be the player that he is for a long time!

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