With spring training about to kick off for the Detroit Tigers, fans can’t help but wonder how their team will fare this season. Since being swept in the 2012 World Series, the Tigers have gone on to lose the ALCS in 2013 and the ALDS last season — a worrisome trend for an aging team.
Luckily, Detroit made some notable offseason additions and is also home to one of the best players in the majors in Miguel Cabrera, who has the ability to carry a team on his back.
Here’s what you need to know about Detroit’s 6-4, 240-pound slugger:
1. Cabrera Came Up Through the Marlins Organization
Cabrera was signed by the Florida Marlins as an amateur free agent in 1999 and worked his way through the farm system.
Beginning his career as a shortstop, Cabrera made the transition to third base when he advanced to high Class-A. After tearing up the competition at the Double-A level, he earned his call to the Show in June of 2003 at the tender age of 20.
Despite his youth, Cabrera immediately made his presence known, blasting this walk-off home run in his debut. He went on to help the Marlins beat the New York Yankees in the World Series later that season.
2. The Dude can Flat Out Hit
With a lifetime .320 batting average, 390 home runs and 1,369 RBI, Cabrera’s bat has become one of the most feared in the majors.
A nine-time All-Star, Miggy (as he is commonly called) took home AL MVP honors in 2012 and 2013. He even became the 15th player in league history to claim baseball’s Triple Crown in 2012, leading the AL in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139).
With the caliber of players around him in Detroit’s lineup this year, one can only assume that Cabrera will be busy once again this season.
3. Cabrera has Become a Complete Player
During his time as a third baseman with the Marlins, Cabrera struggled defensively. His large size made it difficult to excel at the hot corner and he had trouble making accurate throws from time to time.
In his last two seasons with Florida, Cabrera committed an astounding 40 errors.
After an offseason trade moved him to Detroit (and first base), however, Cabrera slimmed down and improved his defensive play. In six seasons at first base, Cabrera owns a solid .993 fielding percentage.
4. Cabrera Plays for ‘Sangre’
When Cabrera tapes his wrists, he often writes the word “sangre” on the tape, which means blood in Spanish.
Explaining that “sangre” is the reason he plays the game, it is apparent that family and his cultural heritage are important aspects of Cabrera’s life.
5. Miggy Has Been Cleared to Resume Hitting and Throwing
After undergoing surgery in October to remove bone spurs in his ankle and repair a stress fracture in his foot, doctors have cleared Cabrera for hitting and throwing.
Although it is uncertain at this point when he will make a full recovery and return to 100-percent health, the Tigers are optimistic that he will be available come opening day.
If Cabrera isn’t ready to go to begin the season, Detroit will have some rather large shoes to fill in the middle of the order.