The month of June delivered the most competitive Tigers baseball in several years. Amidst a rebuild, it was a small teaser (or hopefully the beginning) of the team fans can expect to take the field for years to come.
The month of June also gave fans a resurgence of Miguel Cabrera.
Cabrera struggled early and often to start the 2021 season, posting the worst slump of his career: an 0-23 misery tour that included 17 strikeouts. Entering his age 38 season, the two-time MVP and fabled triple crown winner showed clear signs of physical decline. An unfortunate reality but an expected one.
A recent onslaught of season-ending injuries has left Miggy averaging only 90 games a season in the last four years. He found himself struggling to return to old form, another cruel reminder that our bodies betray us as we age. Especially in the cold early months of the season in Detroit.
The ensuing results revealed a very frustrated hitter, struggling with below average fastball velocity in the zone. Cabrera was forced to adjust to his weaknesses in real time as pitchers continuously exploited them. His frustrations showed, and fans saw the confusion on his face as one of this generations greatest talents searched for answers.
But those adjustments have started to take hold and the answers may have been revealed. One full month of steady production and ten multi-hit games later, Miggy slashed .329 (28-85) while also avoiding hitting into a single double play, a modern miracle.
Seriously. The man who has hit into the fourth most double plays in Major League history, coming off of the most frustrating two months of his career, avoided hitting into one for an entire month.
He’s back to his productive team-first habits. Driving seemingly any pitch to the opposite field with runners on base, taking the easy single to drive in the run. He was also no longer getting overpowered by the low 90’s fastball. The seasons of Triple Crown threats may be behind us, but he has returned to his presence as a feared hitter that commands respect from opposing pitchers.
He doesn’t get fooled. Even in his draught, he never appeared to be caught off guard. He always has his plan, and we are starting to see him execute his plan as we did in summers of old. Pitchers will have to make a decision if they wish to keep attacking him, which a guy like Jeimer Candelario can continue to reap the benefits.
It was indeed only one single month of production, but that’s no reason to scoff. The power is diminished, but the jolly slugger’s repertoire featured much more than power to all fields on all pitches. And despite the slower bat speed, Cabrera still displays every other attribute that led him to six home runs and 77 hits away from the 500 and 3,000 club.
Barring injury, Miguel Cabrera is positioning himself at the forefront of a Tigers push for the division. A push that will not continue without his production.
2012 was almost a decade ago. But the Tigers don’t need 2012, they just need Miggy.