By: Eric Thomas
It’s not a ‘dis.’ Not dropping hate. Not smack talking. When people say that Miggy shouldn’t be the MVP this year, it isn’t dropping any disrespect in his direction. In saying that, I am not taking him for granted. I watch with rapt attention every time that Miguel Cabrera steps to the plate. He somehow manages to hit for both average and power every year. The man has one of the best swings in the history of the game, his arms gliding like a trébuchet when he makes his cut. He is the unquestioned best batter in baseball. If anyone is picking teams, it would be a coin flip between him and Justin Verlander.
The MVP talk isn’t about Miggy’s career or skill set. The MVP is about whose play has been the best this year. The award isn’t about who the best batter is. The MVP is about who is the best all around player. Whenever you have to sheepishly admit that Trout deserves the MVP more than Cabrera this year fans immediately start barking at you, spitting specks of whatever they were masticating before you said this horrible awful very bad thing that means you don’t know anything about baseball.
Keith Law wrote that Austin Jackson has been more valuable to the Tigers this year than Miggy. Before I wade into this, let me say that it’s splitting hairs. The fact that the Tigers have two players playing at the level of what Ajax and Miggy have done this year only serves to remind how good the Tiger lineup is (and how awful 5-9 have been but I have written a hundred of those blogs).
Law is right. Fans have completely overlooked Austin Jackson’s amazing year. His trajectory is pointing into Curtis Granderson territory, and Tigers fans should meet this revelation with a chorus of praise. But that has gotten lost somewhere this year. I brought up this question last night, and a fan actually said that Jackson’s performance was pedestrian because when Jackson was hurt ‘The Tigers just brought up Quintin Berry, so Jackson is replaceable.’ It’s rare that a statement can manage to under-appreciate everyone at the same time, but this statement manages to accomplish that.
Quintin Berry’s accomplishments are worthy of all their gathered gawks. Fans should cheer and chant his name, because the story is amazing. Berry gives every person out there hope. But as good as Berry’s production has been, it PALES in comparison to what Jackson has done this year. Remember at the beginning of the year when callers postulated that the team needed to ‘address the lead-off position?’ Consider it addressed, with a player that has turned in a season worthy of MVP discussion.
Austin Jackson towers over all his team mates in the defensive side of the ball. Miggy is the best hitter in the game, but he isn’t the best third baseman. Not even close. His defense has been beyond what any of us could have expected at third. The questions going into the season was not “if” Cabrera would struggle at third, but “how much” he would struggle. He hasn’t been a giant liability, and that’s all we could have hoped for.
Just like with the argument about whether Trout or Miggy should get the MVP, the fans completely ignore half of the game. The defensive side of the ball is easily forgotten, it’s when most of us go to the store. But no matter if it’s the boring half of the game, it’s still half of the game. People completely forget how great it is to have an excellent center fielder. Tigers fans have been spoiled at the position.
Again, Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball. If I was picking teams, I would take Cabrera. He has been a consistent performer every year, and the man is in his prime. His production so consistent I wonder if Miggy has, somewhere in his future, a year where he breaks out and has a historic year. He certainly has the talent to get it done. But the MVP award is retroactive. It’s not what you are or what you are going to be, the award is for what you’ve done. That’s what puts both Trout and Austin Jackson ahead of Cabrera this year and that takes nothing away from Miggy, at all.
Jackson is the Tigers MVP so far this year. Oh, except for Justin Verlander. We forget about him sometimes, too.