When people debate who the best hitter in baseball is, plenty of names get tossed around. Guys like Robinson Cano, Ryan Braun and Mike Trout, just to name a few.
But to me, there’s only one correct answer to this equation. Miguel Cabrera is the best in the game, and the gap is only widening.
People may think that I’m out of my mind for saying the distance between Cabrera and the next closest player is actually growing, especially with the recent emergence of the aforementioned Trout. But keep in mind, the Los Angeles phenom only has one (albeit very impressive) season under his belt. Cabrera has been doing what he does for a decade now.
The Detroit slugger has been a model of consistency since entering the league back in 2003, posting an average higher than .290 in all but one of his 10 years in the bigs. In fact, 7 out of 10 seasons saw Cabrera hit over .300.
This isn’t just about average, though. For the last several years, Cabrera’s numbers top-to-bottom have been impeccable. He’s finished in the top 5 in MVP voting, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OBPS, runs scored, total bases, RBI, as well as average, every season since 2009. Not to mention he won the Triple Crown last year.
And consider this; there’s a good chance Cabrera will be the last Triple Crown winner we’ll see in our lifetime, especially with the emergence of specialty players and managers putting certain guys in positions with specific objectives. In this day and age, to have a player that hits for both a high average and power is pretty rare. You will get the occasional power hitter with an abnormally high average, or the contact hitter with an abnormally high home run output, but to see both out of the same guy consistently is far from the norm.
For the sake of argument, we can even disregard the past and focus solely on the present. Who currently leads the American League in hitting? Cabrera, by a landslide, with 39 points separating him from the next closest player. What about runs batted in? Again, Cabrera, holding an advantage there as well (5). He sits second in home runs, but is only 5 back of Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the lead in that category.
With guys such as Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton seemingly on the decline, and newbies like Bryce Harper and Trout still in their proverbial Major League Pampers, no one in the game holds a candle to Cabrera. And guess what? He seems to be getting better. The Venezuelan has a legitimate shot at becoming the first player in the history of the sport to win back-to-back Triple Crowns. If that doesn’t make him the best hitter in baseball, I don’t know what will.
They say one of the hardest things to do is solidly hit a round object, especially when it’s headed your way at 95 miles per hour or moving with a 4-to-6-inch break.
Safe to say Miguel Cabrera never got the memo.
“The Freak” Tim Klonica