Detroit Tigers: Reminiscing About the 2021 Season

Detroit Tigers

A season that featured their highest win total since 2016, the 2021 Detroit Tigers gave fans the biggest peak into a potentially very bright future in recent memory. Rookie phenoms, historic milestones, and a flair for the late inning dramatic became the bedrock of this season.

Heading into the offseason, Tigers fans are clamoring for Al Avila to open the checkbook and bring in the blue chip free agents that will turn the Tigers into official contenders.

But first, let’s reminisce…

Admiration Pours In For Miggy’s 500th Home Run

One day, the word ‘soon’ will be replaced by ‘finally’”

-some corny tweet I ripped off.

500.

Agruably the most anticipated moment of the season finally arrived, and it did not disappoint.

In the sixth inning of the rubber match in Toronto, Miguel Cabrera sent Steven Matz’s 84 mph changeup—a pitch which was almost in the left-hand hitter batter’s box—out to right-center for his game-tying milestone. 

Even after 19 seasons, he’s still punishing the pitcher’s pitch.

Miggy’s accomplishment was celebrated across the league, even the visiting fans of Toronto gave their American League rival a standing ovation. However this is not unfamiliar. In 2012, Miguel Cabrera locked up the triple crown at division rival Kansas City’s ball park, to which the crowd offered their overwhelming admiration for the Tigers slugger.

Following his home run, hall of famers, future hall of famers, and former teammates alike had shared their video congratulations and admiration. One of which, former teammate and pending free agent Justin Verlander, ended his video with a most likely normal, but hopefully cryptic “See you soon!”

The Obvious

Cabrera is now the 28th player to join the 500 home run club.  He joins legends such as Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jimmie Foxx.

He becomes the first player to do so since David Ortiz in 2015.  He’s also the first Venezuelan-born player—where he was already the all-time hit leader for his nation—and the sixth foreign player to notch 500.

More importantly, Cabrera is the first Tiger to reach 500 career home runs(Gary Sheffield only played two seasons in Detroit and reached number 500 with the Mets). 

What’s Next?

45 hits separate Cabrera from 3,000.  Reaching this coveted milestone will make him the 33rd player in history.  But it would also make him only the seventh player with both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.  The others? Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Raphael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodruigez, and Eddie Murray.


Elite.

A Prediction

Cabrera can resume normal baseball activity.  His natural approach can return, and he can show up to the ballpark just being Miguel Cabrera. Taking the simple base hit to drive in the run, setting up the pitcher, and checking his own swing with the first base umpire. He cooled off between 499 and 500, look for him to heat back up again. 

There are 36 games remaining in the season, but with 45 hits to go, 3,000 is unlikely to be achieved this year.  The most hits he’s recorded in a month this season were 28 back in June.

The focus will now return to Tigers baseball, something Miggy is probably very thankful for. Detroit remains six games under .500, and three games out of second place in the division. This season has already been a massive leap in the Tigers development. With this incredible milestone checked off the list, the Tigers can position themselves for a strong finish, making it very enticing for potential blue chip free agents.

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When Will Miggy Hit Number 500?

It has been six seasons since David Ortiz became a recent member of the 500 home run club.

He amassed the feat by clubbing numbers 499 and 500 in the same game.

Now the city of Detroit, as well as the entire baseball world, have their eyes on Miguel Cabrera.

Last Wednesday in Baltimore, Cabrera struck number 499.

Comerica Park has been flooded with fans reminiscent of the early 10’s, in hopes to witness firsthand Miggy etching his name into the history books.

How long can we be expected to wait?

If history has been any indicator, we’ve generally seen number 500 come within roughly one calendar week. 

Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr, and Eddie Murray took about a week.

Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, and Mel Ott in a day or less.

Alex Rodriguez slowed down the entire process and took nine days. However not nearly as long as Jimmie Foxx or Harmon Killebrew, who each went roughly two weeks before the big moment.

Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield hit 499 at the very end of September and didn’t hit 500 until the following season.

So where does Miggy fall on this list?

For 2021, he’s averaging just over 28 at-bats per home run.

In his last 25 games he’s shaved that number down to 17.  We’ve already seen the mid-season adjustment that has led to a more open stance at the plate.  An adjustment that likely extended his career a few seasons.

Cabrera could treat his hometown crowd this week, he will have three more opportunities against the Angels this week before a five-game road trip.  The Tigers will be returning to Detroit for a seven-game homestand beginning August 27th.  

His quest won’t come any easier this week, as the Tigers are facing two-way phenom Shohei Othani. 

However, if 499 carries into the road trip, a series to circle on the calendar will be the two-game set in St. Louis on the 24th and 25th. 

Cabrera will have the rare opportunity to hit both numbers 400 and 500 against the same opponent on their turf, a feat he could share with, coincidentally, former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.

Tigers Owner Hinting At Aggressive Offseason

“I am very much supportive of the approach that [Avila] and his team have taken of building a young core of talent and now having the desire to bring in high-impact players to fill that team out”

“This winter?”

“Undoubtedly that could happen this winter.”

Folks, it just may have arrived.

At a groundbreaking ceremony for the historic Hamtramck Stadium, Tigers owner Chris Illitch announced that the Detroit Tigers could become fierce competitors this offseason to bring in pieces to solidify the Tigers as championship contenders yet again. 

The Tigers have not seen a winning season since 2016 (86-75) a feat which they may achieve this season.  However, Illitch’s words elicit more than just hope for the continuous improvement of a rebuild.  Fans might be lucky enough to enjoy an aggressive offseason that will allow the Tigers to make significant strides competitively.

Is it premature to position the Tigers in such a position?  Not with the current foundation in place.

Torkelson and Greene are knocking at the door,  Miguel Cabrera has found a resurgence after several injury-filled seasons, and the young trio of Mize, Skubal, and Manning has already given us enough glimpses into a future rotation of three quality young starters.

Not to mention the emergence of rookie sensations in Akil Baddoo and Eric Haase.

The current state of the Tigers is a young ambitious roster, powered by a multidimensional and resilient offense.  Where they lack in a middle-of-the-order presence, they overcome with timely hitting and athleticism.  

If the front office is ready to make a move, where should they start?


It has been long documented the Tigers should go after one of the premier shortstops in this free-agent class.  Following the pitching-heavy 2021 draft, it appears they will do as such as the middle infield remains a glaring weak spot.

Potential Candidates

Carlos Correa 

Age – 27

2021 Salary – $11.7 Million

2021 Slash – .271/.367/.474

Correa has been the fan consensus for a while, and for good reason.  He would be reuniting with his former manager AJ Hinch and would fill the need for a middle-of-the-order impact bat.  His power numbers will most likely decline coming from the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, but his other offensive tools and glove will stabilize the lineup.

Corey Seager

Age – 28

2021 Salary – $13.75 Million

2021 Slash – .268/.365/.420

Seager would be a tad risky due to his injury history.  But when healthy, his glove and his bat are as dependable as any at his position.  In the Tigers lineup, Seager would fall closer to Jhonny Peralta or Ian Kinsler. A fantastic addition, but might not necessarily be the immediate impact bat they need.

Javier Baez

Age – 29

2021 Salary – $11.65 Million

2021 Slash – .286/.290/.483

If your opponent ran out a lineup of nine Javier Baez’s for a game, you would be completely exhausted by the 5th inning.  Baez is chaos personified on a diamond.  He can play short or second at an elite level while putting steady pressure on both the pitcher and the defense.  Some would look at his affinity to the strikeout as a negative, but after watching Miggy and V-Mart lead the league in double plays for their careers, it might be a refreshing result.

Honorable Mention – SS
Brandon Crawford – The most reliable defensive player of our generation not named Yadier Molina.

Andrelton Simmons – Remember debating him vs Jose Iglesias?

Trevor Story – Good bat, down year.

Jose Iglesias – Come home, my son.

Other Impact Bats

Kris Bryant

Age – 30

2021 Salary – $19.5 Million

2021 Slash – .266/.358/.506

The former MVP would likely have to find a new position if the Tigers offered. Otherwise, if he wishes to return to remain at third, the Tigers would have to make a decision with Spencer Torkelson. But despite that, Bryant is the exact kind of hitter every lineup needs.

Freddie Freeman

Age – 31

2021 Salary – $22.4 Million

2021 Slash – .289/.393/.501

Freddie Freeman could end up being a perfect fit in Detroit.  Schoop has played himself into a larger contract with an immediate contender, and the 2020 MVP could step in as the new centerpiece.  However, with Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. giving the Braves an incredible discount, Atlanta might just hand Freeman a blank check.

It will take more than just one or two offensive pieces for the Tigers to emerge as contenders.  The bullpen desperately needs to be addressed and the rotation is lacking a bonafide ace.  

If Illitch and Avila are both prepared to push the poker chips to the center, a reunion with Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer might not be completely out of the question.  

The bottom line, the light at the end of the tunnel is right in our faces.

Guess Who’s Back: Tigers Slugger Returning Dangerous Ways

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.

Thank you.

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.