Miguel Cabrera: The Best and it's not Close

Leon Halip

After winning the first Triple Crown since 1967, Cabrera finished off the award season with the American League MVP. The unanimous No. 1 third baseman on our consensus rankings released earlier today, let's enjoy a quick look at the best hitter baseball has to offer, as we profile Miguel Cabrera for 2013.

Miguel Cabrera will go top 3 in ninety eight percent of snake drafts next year. Owners who play in auction leagues will need to figure out how much of their budget to allocate towards a single position, and Cabrera is certainly one of the players you'd consider spending big on next year. Miguel Cabrera is amazing, and it's easy to remember how great he was last year as the Triple Crown and highly debated MVP award will be remembered forever. But I want to take a glance back at what he's accomplished over the last 3 years and beyond. After all, Cabrera will only be 30 next year, is showing no signs of slowing down, and has one of the games best offenses surrounding him.

Time for a little did you know.

  • Did you know Miguel has had at least 40 doubles three straight years?
  • Over that same time span, Cabrera has not scored less than 109 runs. In fact he's the leader in all of baseball the last three years, over Braun, Granderson and Cano.
  • He score's runs like a lead off hitter, but drives them in even better, with nine straight years of 100 RBI's or more. Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, that's also the best mark over that time frame, with 370. Second best? Ryan Braun with 44 fewer.
  • We know he's a solid contributor in batting average, but did you know over the last four years he's averaged a .331 batting average? Tops in all of baseball.
I could go on all day, and I'll probably continue to play around on his baseball-reference page after this article is done, but let's dig into his award winning season, specifically the 44 long balls he hit.

Prior to last year, Miguel's previous career high for homers was in 2010, with 38. A look at his batted ball profile, shows his line drive, ground ball and fly ball rates were all in line with his career averages. The extra homers came by way of a 23.0% HR/FB rate (previous career high was 20.1% all the way back in 2004.) For his career, Miguel has put up a 18.9% HR/FB rate, and since 2007, has been 18.x% every year other than 2010 and this past season.

While Comerica Park has played pretty neutral over the years, it does slightly suppress home run power. Miguel Cabrera laughs at that last sentence and points to his 28 home run - .332/.403/.692 triple slash at home from 2012. Same story in 2011, as he hit 15 or his 30 homers at home, while slashing his way to a .349/.433./.578 line. It's fair to point out Cabrera did lead the American League in "Just Enough" home runs in 2012 (16 per ESPN Home Run Tracker). Before we put too much stock into that number, remember he also led in the category with the same number in 2011. Don't over think it.

With no signs of slowing down in his batted ball profile, he's a lock to put up prestigious power numbers again in 2013. I currently have him projected for 36, but the chance for another 40 homer season isn't completely out of this world.

So let's talk 2013 draft value.

My converted projection to auction dollar figures has my top three for 2013 as - Mike Trout, Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera (12 team mixed, CI, MI, 5 OF). Personally, I'd override my rankings and take both Braun and Cabrera ahead of Trout for the home run/RBI production and acquire steals over the course of the draft, but that's a topic for another post. As I've mentioned previously, I always prefer to tier my players by position, and watch for steep drop offs of production. The drop from Cabrera to Adrian Beltre, my 2nd ranked third baseman, is the steepest drop at any position by a wide margin. Owners in snake drafts will have to be lucky to have a pick high enough in 2013 for a chance to acquire Cabrera. Owners in auction leagues however, will all get a shot at the great one and the bidding could get intense. I currently have Miguel as a $44 dollar player in the mixed league set up described above, however, with the potential to hit a few more than the 36 home runs I've projected, along with a higher average than projected (.316 projected BA), the price could reach $47+ and you'd still be clearing the red.

As I mentioned earlier, I'll be playing around on Miguel's baseball-reference page all night. One of my favorite features is the similar player through Age X feature the site provides, as explained here. The top 3 similar hitters to Miguel Cabrera through age 29 -- Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr.

Enjoy.

Sources:

Fangraphs
Baseball-Reference
ESPN

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