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Miguel Cabrera's changing batter profile

The Detroit star will always hit for average. But does he do everything he once did? The numbers say he might not.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When you're drafting, it's not just about getting the next guy in the rankings list. This can be obvious -- it doesn't make sense to draft Billy Hamilton later if you got Dee Gordon earlier --€” but it doesn't have to be. But that's why you come into your draft with a strategy.

Draft Clayton Kershaw in the first. You have strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, wins if you're lucky. So in the second, you get Giancarlo Stanton, you have some fair power and RBI. That might lead to Starling Marte in the third, Xander Bogaerts in the fourth. Get all power hitters, all speedsters, whatever, and you'll win a category or two, but you need as many categories as possible. And for that, you need to have an idea of what a player is going to contribute to your roster.

For example, if you draft Jose Altuve, you know you can expect batting average, steals, runs. Drafting him for power is obviously silly.

Which brings me to Miguel Cabrera. To build into my point, what follows is a chart of Cabrera's numbers in a few categories since joining the Tigers in 2008. I've scaled them all to percentage of his best over that time, so that they're all on the same general scale. That way they all fit on the same chart, and I'm more worried about change over time than actual totals, anyway. It's just lines for now. I want you to see the numbers, and then I'll talk about them.


Okay, let's talk about them. The blue line is simple. That's just games played. Other than his rookie year of 2003, Cabrera had played 148 or more games every year of his career before last year, and 159 or more in five of the eight years in Detroit. It's possible the calf injury last year that limited him to 119 games was just a blip (it was his first career DL trip), but he turns 33 in April, and often times the first injury isn't the only injury.

The gray line is Cabrera's isolated power. His .196 in 2015 was the first time in his career Cabrera's ISO has fallen below .200, and it's dropped 92 points in the last two seasons. It's a bad sign when the number trends downward, especially when it ties to ...

The orange-yellow line (screw it, Excel picked the colors), which is Cabrera's home runs per plate appearance. It's given on a per-PA basis to account for his reduced playing time last year, but even with that, it was Cabrera's lowest since his rookie year, and it's been near career lows each of the last two years. The gray and orange-yellow lines combine to paint a picture of a guy who isn't the power hitter his reputation might lead you to believe he is. No, what he is is the guy represented by ...

The red line. That's batting average. Notice it's the only one going up at the end. Cabrera could be 47 and down a limb or two and still roll out of bed and hit .300. He last hit below that mark in 2008, and only came in below .292 in his rookie year. He's won the AL batting title in four of the last five years. I will note that his 2015 BABIP was a career high, so there's a chance he won't put up the monster numbers again, but still, batting average is batting average.

Cabrera has the reputation of a monster power hitter, the guy who won the Triple Crown in 2012, had 44 home runs in each of 2012 and 2013, had 30-plus in seven straight years from 2007 to 2013 and nine of 10 from 2004 to 2013. The last two years, he's been a good hitter. A great hitter. He just hasn't exactly been a power hitter. In that graph, the batting average trends up and steady, but all the other lines have a general downward trend.

You not only need to draft good players in your fantasy draft, you need to end up with a whole roster that makes sense. Draft Miguel Cabrera. You'll probably be happy you did. (Unless of course those injuries persist.) But when you do, do it with the knowledge that he'll buoy your power, contribute runs and RBI. But the power? The power you might want to load up on elsewhere.