The Detroit Tigers May Be Finished Without Miguel Cabrera

In every full season of the stellar career of Miguel Cabrera, he has never played less than 148 games.  He has never been on the DL in his first 13 years in the majors.  Both of these are about to change after the events of Friday night, however.

With Cabrera on first base in the fourth inning and the score 1-0 in favor of the Tigers, Cabrera ran on a 3-2 pitch to Victor Martinez.  Cabrera pulled up lame between first and second and could not continue in the game.  It was later revealed that Cabrera suffered a Grade 3 Calf strain and is expected to miss six weeks.

The Tigers, manager Brad Ausmus, and Cabrera himself knew that the injury was bad, according to Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ “Hardball Talk”:

When Cabrera came out of last night’s game with a calf strain you knew it had to be serious. Cabrera has played hurt in the past. He’s played injured in the past. He’s played when he probably shouldn’t have more times than I can count. But short of him literally missing a limb you never expect him to come out of a game.

That’s when Brad Ausmus knew it was bad, well before the MRI results showing a grade-3 calf strain came back.

“When Miggy says he can’t play, it’s serious, because Miggy plays through anything,” Ausmus said this morning. But he won’t be playing though this. Ausmus said he’s still waiting on a second opinion, but he doesn’t expect it to be any better. “I looked at the MRI. You can ask me about it,” Ausmus said. But even Dr. Ausmus is resigned to the fact that the best hitter in baseball will be out six weeks. And as he sat and spoke to the media this morning, he made it clear that the Tigers’ options are limited.

Alex Avila will get the start today, but he has played only three career games at first base. And, Ausmus reminded us, he was just activated from the disabled list himself. He’s worried enough about Avila playing back-to-back games at the position he knows, let alone one that’s mostly unfamiliar.

The Tigers are going to have a very hard time replacing Miggy for one simple reason: he is the best hitter in baseball.  He leads the game in three statistical categories: batting average (.350), on-base percentage (.456) and OPS (1.034).  J.D. Martinez leads the team in home runs, but Cabrera leads the team in the aforementioned categories, as well as hits and RBI.

While the Tigers rank first in baseball in batting average (.277), much of that success is due to Cabrera’s presence.  They also lead the league in hits (761) and on-base percentage (.335), but Cabrera leads the team in all of these categories.

So where does this leave the Tigers in the AL Central race? Answer: much worse than they already are.  With last night’s win, they moved to 40-39, but they are still 6 games back of the division-leading Kansas City Royals.  The Cleveland Indians have come on strong this week as well, and after a 5-game winning streak they are only two games back of Detroit.

In a crowded Wild Card race, the Tigers are only 1.5 games behind the all-important second Wild Card spot.  However, there are seven teams with 1.5 games of the Wild Card, and without Cabrera, the Tigers could be left in the dust.

The Tigers have two more games left with the Blue Jays this weekend.  Their next two series, with three games in Seattle against the Mariners and four in Minnesota to play the Twins, will be crucial heading into the All-Star break.  This is dire straits for the Tigers right about now, and they do not have the easiest schedule heading into the break.

The Tigers absolutely have to hit and score runs, as the pitching staff ranks 25th in ERA (4.16) and 24th in batting average against (.262).  The only great starting pitcher they have had this season is David Price, and he is easily the best starter on the staff. Shane Greene was magnificent early in the season, but was recently sent down to to Triple-A because he was struggling mightily. Justin Verlander made his season debut on June 13 and has limped to a 5.09 ERA in 3 starts.  Alfredo Simon has done a solid job and Jake Ryan has been okay in 4 starts, but the rotation will continue to struggle.

All things considered, the Tigers are very lucky that Cabrera is not going to be out for a longer period of time.  The rehabilitation from the injury might take a long time, longer than Cabrera is supposed to be out for, because injuries to the calves need to be shut down to heal.  However, the Tigers need to get it together without Cabrera, and soon.

Their season will be sabotaged if they don’t.


My MLB All-Star Game Ballot

The 2015 MLB All-Star Game is being held at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on July 14th of this year.  The game is an exhibition of the game’s best talent (and worst rules), while much of the controversy gets pointed toward who does and doesn’t get chosen to play.  I know this is a little early, as the voting closes on July 2nd, but I filled out a ballot for the game based on the first four months of this year.  There will probably be more than one of these, so expect the ballot to change.  Here goes:


1B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

2B: Jose Altuve, Astros

SS: Jed Lowrie, Astros

3B: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays

C: Salvador Perez, Royals

DH: Nelson Cruz, Mariners

Outfielders: Mike Trout, Angels; Adam Jones, Orioles; Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox


1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers

2B: Dee Gordon, Marlins

SS: Zack Cozart, Reds

3B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals

C: Buster Posey, Giants

Outfielders: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins; Matt Kemp, Padres; Justin Upton, Padres

Fire away in the comments section!