The Greatness of Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera, miguel eating batSome times when you’re in the presence of greatness, you don’t realize it until it’s gone.  We’re experiencing that right now with Miguel Cabrera and Tiger fans getting to watch him on a daily basis.

Recently, a friend had posted on Facebook that he had been called a homer for thinking Cabrera was one of the greatest and oddly enough that day on the broadcast, there was a comparison to Miguel and Hank Aaron.  This got me thinking about writing about Cabrera accomplishments and what it will take to become one of the best when it’s all over.

Top 100 Player of All-Time Already

To start, let’s use ESPN’s Top 100 Players of All-Time to set the tone as Cabrera just turned 32 this past week and ranks 47th on the Top 100 list that was updated earlier this year.  I also believe before all is said and done, Miguel will move up in to the top 20 and possibly the top 15 and be one of the top five right handed hitters of all-time.

The Awards

Moving on to the awards, everyone is aware that Cabrera was the first player to win the Triple Crown since 1967, which led to him winning the AL MVP in 2012 and he won it again in 2013.  Additionally, Miguel has finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting four other times and has received MVP votes every year of his career.  On top of that Cabrera finished 5th in NL Rookie of the Year voting, has made nine All-Star teams, won five Silver Sluggers (at 3 different positions), three consecutive batting titles (2011-2013), and other various annual, monthly, and weekly awards.

The Stats

Cabrera started out his career in the Major’s at the age of 20 and is now entering his 13th season and has compiled a career .321 batting average(48th all-time), 2,206 hits (183rd), 469 doubles (86th), 392 home runs (58th), 1,379 RBI (81st), 1,172 runs scored (201st), 865 walks (190th), and a .961 career OPS in 7,867 plate appearances.  These won’t blow you away necessarily if he retired today, however they are still close to Hall worthy numbers, and Miguel is under contract for another 8-10 years.

Oh I won’t forget about WAR either, as Miguel is at 59.4 which is 6th best for current players and 182nd for his career.  When isolated to just offensive WAR, Cabrera moves up to 3rd for active players at 67.3 and 65th for his career.

Stats also mean nothing unless you have some kind of context around them, so I lean on Baseball-Reference and their similarity score, which compares a player to others on that players current career stats vs other players, Cabrera’s career stats stacked up to others at the same age, and then breaking it down for each year of age.

When comparing Miguel Cabrera to other players who have similar stats, he compares to Larry Walker the most, then Moises Alou, Johnny Mize, and Lance Berkman.  The only Hall of Famer is Mize; however these players of course all are retired. ..

So then we look at players who had similar stats to Cabrera at the age of his last complete season when he was 31.  Those top-5 comparisons are: Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, Ken Griffey Jr., and Albert Pujols.  All are or will be Hall of Famers

Miguel Cabrera, Hall of Fame?

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Baseball-Reference also has indicators for that.  Further description is at the bottom but it includes Black Ink Test, a Gray Ink Test, a Hall of Fame Monitor, and Hall of Fame Standards.

For Cabrera, he gets a 39 on the Black Ink test where the average Hall of Famer gets a 27.  Miguel then scores a 226 on the Gray Ink (average for a Hall of Famer is 144), 222 on the Hall of Fame Monitor (100 is likely to be a Hall of Famer), and finally a 53 on Hall of Fame Standards test, where the average Hall of Famer is at a 50.

More Miggy…

Where to From Here?

Averages are a little more difficult to track vs. counting stats but keep an eye on Miguel’s career Slugging Percentage at .564 which ranks 13th all-time, the above mentioned OPS which ranks 16th all-time.  Cabrera will also continue adding to his WAR with Babe Ruth rating out at 163, Bonds 162.4, Mays 156.2, Cobb 151, and Aaron at 142.6 to round out the top-five all-time.

If you want counting stats to watch, keep an eye on these…

  • 3000 hits, Cabrera less than 800 hits away and should get there around 2018-2019.
    • Pete Rose is the all-time leader at 4,256, Ty Cobb is 2nd at 4,189, and Hank Aaron is 3rd at 3,771
    • With 180 hits this season, Cabrera could move up to 128th, sandwiched in between Trammell and Whitaker
  • 500 Home Runs, currently 108 away, Cabrera could get there as soon as 2018 if he hits 30 a season
    • Bonds is the disputed all-time leader at 762, Aaron at 755, and Ruth at 714
    • With 30 homers this season, Cabrera could move up to 49th place, just ahead of Darrell Evans
  • Miggy already ranks 68th in doubles and although doubtful he could average 40 a season over the rest of his career, Cabrera could finish in the top-20
    • Tris Speaker leads all-time with 792, followed by Rose (746), Musial (725), Cobb (724), and Biggio (668)
    • With 40 doubles this season, Cabrera could tie Roberto Alomar for 56th all-time, one spot ahead of Babe Ruth
  • Lastly is Runs Batted In, where Cabrera sits in 81st place with 1,379 which is 6th among active players. Miggy would have to average close to 100 RBI per season the rest of his career to finish among the top
    • Hank Aaron is the all-time leader at 2,297, Ruth is 2nd (2,214), Cap Anson is 3rd (2,075), Bonds 4th (1,996), and Gehrig 5th (1,995). ARod will surpass both Gehrig and Bonds this season
    • With 110 runs driven in this season, Cabrera could move up to 56th all-time. Two spots behind Mickey Mantle

The numbers don’t lie, we’re all witnessing greatness, a once in a generation hitter, just don’t wait too long to notice

***Baseball-Reference Hall of Fame Stats simple definitions are: Black-Ink Test (a point system for  leading in “important” stat categories), Grey Ink Test (which is the same as Black-Ink, but points for top 10 finishes), Hall of Fame Career Standards (again, points for stats), and Hall of Fame Monitor (similar to Career standards).  You can learn more here***

6 thoughts on “The Greatness of Miguel Cabrera

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