I have been a fan of the Detroit Tigers since the Summer of 1984. That means I am lucky enough to vividly remember my baseball team winning a World Series title, and waiting for them to win another. Since every year the team itself asks me who my Tiger is I decided to write about my favorite 25 Tigers since I became a fan…at eight years old…This has less to do with performance as it does with whatever intangible qualities Tigers’ players have…I mean this is the town that loved Brandon Inge and Don Kelly…and no neither one of those players will make my list…With all of that being said…
#5 First Baseman Miguel Cabrera
The first current member of the organization to make the list. I think that says a lot about how the Detroit Tigers front office has gone about building the roster in recent years. To be very honest there have been enough incidents with Mr. Cabrera that I debated putting him on the list at all. However, his accomplishments on the field (and while wearing the Old English D) cannot be ignored. This is about favorite players not all around good guys…always remember this is the team Ty Cobb played for.
This guy went on a two season tear that is among the best I ever saw. In 2012 and 2013 he would win back to back MVP’s, insuring that the Detroit bias with Hall of Fame voters will falter when it comes time to enshrine Mr. Cabrera. To be perfectly honest he might have been hall worthy before those two seasons…but now he has the hardware to insure his career in worthy of Cooperstown.
Instead of focusing on those two years…because his detractors will say he had a great run but not a great career…in eight seasons in Detroit he has hit .326 with 270 home runs and 922 RBI. That is while playing a majority of his games at Comerica Park…which shows exactly how much power this dude has. In five years with the Florida Marlins he hit .313 with 138 home runs and 523 RBI. He is a ten time All Star, two time MVP, and five time Silver Slugger winner.
The only real negative, outside of off the field stuff, is his .189 batting average in the World Series. That is over 10 games and two series and it not good at all. I don’t know how to explain it (especially when he hits damn near .400 in the LCS for his career), but the image of him striking out for the final out of the 2012 World Series is forever burned into my memory. The fact that the Tigers will never win the first title to be decided at Comerica Park irks me a lot. Kirk Gibson once stated that the Copa would never be home till the Tigers won a World Series there. I think that is partly true…and that place did not feel like our baseball home until 2006. Then The San Francisco Giants won a World Series on our turf…beating a team where Cabrera was one of the highest paid players…making us question how we feel about The Copa being our baseball sanctuary.
I guess Cabrera doesn’t impress me much from a fan of the Tigers point of view given the era he played in (more so than anything that may or may not have happened off the field). His was part of the hired gun era, the era of trading away the farm system to compete for championships in the moment. A bill that has yet to come due for current Tigers fans. The simple fact here is this, Cabrera’s contract is going to be really ugly sooner rather than later and that will severely impact his legacy in Tigers’ white and blue. Furthermore, Cabrera’s teams went 0-4 on the big stage and the rosters of that era were 1-8…which is pitiful anyway we slice it.
On top of all that I am not so sure Detroit has the fans that will ever fully embrace a guy that makes outrageous money. We are more tolerant of home grown stars that wind up getting that big contract, but this is a working class city with working class baseball fans…I am just not sure the Detroit baseball fan who sits in the cheap seats and eats his post game meal at Lafayette Coney Island will ever fully embrace big money guys that were brought to town via free agency or trades.