The Washington Times-Herald

August 16, 2013

Cabrera should be appreciated

BY Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Baseball is a simple game, yet for the second straight year baseball’s sabermetrics community is trying to discredit Miguel Cabrera’s greatness. If this seems like a repeat of the summer of 2012, you’re right. If you recall last summer, sabermatricians and a collection of sportswriters banded together to discredit Cabrera’s Triple Crown season, because Mike Trout had the supposed greatest season of all time with his Wins Above Replacement rating of 10.7. WAR is the determined value of a players value to a player’s contributions to a team through baserunning, batting, fielding and pitching.

This year WAR is very close with Trout at 6.7 and Cabrera is at 6.5. Since the bread and butter of the WAR argument doesn’t separate Trout from Cabrera, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan recently wrote that Trout is more valuable than Cabrera, because the Angels’ outfielder’s salary of $510,000 is far less than the $21 million Cabrera will make this season. Passan also voted for Trout for American League MVP over Cabrera last year.

Yes, you read that correctly, Mike Trout should be the MVP because he makes such a small amount of money in relation to Cabrera. This argument is even more ridiculous than the WAR debate last season. What Cabrera has done over the last two seasons is starting an argument as to whether he is one of the six best right handed hitters of all time, along with Rogers Hornsby, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Albert Pujols.

Trout is on his way to a great career, maybe even a Hall of Fame career, but the things Cabrera is doing are things that haven’t been done in decades. The fact that people are saying he has to get hot to catch Baltimore’s Chris Davis in home runs to clinch a second consecutive Triple Crown — which has never been done — tells you all you need to know about where he is in baseball history right now. He’ll end up with better numbers than he had last season.

Cabrera leads by more than 30 points in the batting average category. He’s hitting .360 and still hitting for the same power numbers as Davis, who has a batting average at .300. Conventional wisdom tells you hitting for that high of an average with those power numbers shouldn’t be possible. For Cabrera, this has become his new normal. His offensive numbers outweigh whatever defensive and baserunning edge Trout has.

Cabrera’s slash line of .360 batting average/.453 on-base percentage/.685 slugging percentage/1.138 OPS as of Thursday are all improvements from last year, including a 30 point jump in batting average. Some sabermatricians want to devalue batting average and RBI, because to them they are apparently outdated statistics. Cabrera’s slugging percentage are 26 points higher, his slugging 111 points higher and his OPS is 137 points higher than Trout’s.

It’s a shame that even on August 16, Cabrera is just now getting the attention he deserves. Cabrera even performed the unthinkable feat of homering off of the greatest reliever of all time — Mariano Rivera — not once but twice in three days this past weekend.

The first off these homers took place last Friday night. With Detroit trailing 4-2 in the ninth inning and one runner on base, Cabrera fouled the patented Rivera cut fastball off his knee and looked like he could barely walk and two pitches later he hit a 430-foot bomb over the centerfield fence to tie the game. It was a moment in time between two of the all-time greats.

Rivera isn’t as good as he once was, but it was an example of how dominant Cabrera is at the plate these days. He’s set a standard of play that can only be duplicated by maybe 10 hitters in the history of baseball.

You can’t ever be sure about anyone these days, but Cabrera looks like a clean player who has exceeded the hype of what kind of player he could be when he entered the big leagues with the Marlins a decade ago.

With all the negative storylines circling the game of baseball with the Biogenesis scandal and A-Rod appealing his 211-game suspension we would be smart to focus in on the best hitter any of us will ever see — Miguel Cabrera.