One of Jim Leyland’s strengths as a manager is getting mediocre players to perform better, getting good players to become very good and getting stars to become superstars.

He finally got Justin Verlander to quit trying to throw every pitch 100 mph and try for easy outs early in the game. That has helped transform Verlander into a guy who goes minimum six innings and throws 100 pitches start after start. And led him to the Cy Young and MVP Awards last year.

When Miguel Cabrera came over in a trade from Florida in 2008 one of the first things Leyland did was to work on him to battle every single pitch of every single at-bat. He saw what Cabrera has become: a Hall of Fame player with another half-dozen seasons of 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

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