By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Baseball America recently released its MLB 2013 Best Tools list, voted on by major league managers, and the Detroit Tigers are all over it.
Detroit players – and manager Jim Leyland – account for 10 top-three spots on the list.
For best hitter, managers chose Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera. He has a .361 batting average, a .451 on-base percentage and a 1.120 on-base plus slugging percentage, which takes into account both how often a player gets on base and how often he hits for extra bases. All three statistics are the highest in the American League by considerable margins.
Cabrera was ranked second in the category of best power. He has recorded 100 RBIs and 32 homers, but the Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis has surpassed Cabrera so far with 103 RBIs and 40 home runs.
Unlike many power hitters, Cabrera is renowned for his strike-zone judgment, and managers rated him best in the American League in that discipline. Davis has the fourth-most strikeouts in baseball with 135, while Cabrera has just 68 whiffs in 103 games. Cabrera’s walk-to-strikeout ratio is 0.96, seventh best in the majors.
Managers listed Cabrera in second place for the AL’s most exciting player. The above statistics can help explain that, but the excitement factor is simply that Cabrera gets hits more frequently than anyone else in baseball and that he is a threat to homer at almost any time.
As central as offense is to the Tigers, several Detroit pitchers also made it on Baseball America’s list.
Max Scherzer, with a 16-1 record this season, is ranked as the American League’s best pitcher. He started the All-Star Game last month and has a WHIP of 0.912, the third-lowest in baseball. The list also gave Scherzer the distinctions of best fastball and second-best slider.
Justin Verlander, the 2011 Cy Young winner and MVP, was recognized by managers as having the AL’s second-best fastball and second-best curveball. While Verlander has struggled this season to live up to his statistics of the past two seasons, fighting to find control at times, he has managed well. Tuesday night he looked like what Leyland called, “vintage Verlander,” limiting the Cleveland Indians to one run in eight innings while – for the first time of 2013 – giving up no walks.
The last category of Baseball America’s MLB 2013 Best Tools list is best manager, and the winner for the AL is Leyland. With a spotty bullpen for much of the season and a powerful offense that sometimes performed in an all-or-nothing fashion, Leyland has guided the team to a 66-45 record. The Tigers are now on a 10-game win streak, and Detroit is living up to expectations as a World Series favorite.