Cabrera: Third base pushed me to work hard

Third base was supposed to be Miguel Cabrera’s downfall in the AL MVP debate. It never got that close.

Then, when Cabrera talked about the award, he turned his position change into a strength.

“I think the most important thing I did this year was defensive,” he said.

He went beyond that. After hearing him talk about it, you wonder if he has this kind of season if he doesn’t make the move.

Well …

“I think Leyland made a good decision to move me to third base,” Cabrera said, “because it really pushed me to work hard.”

It takes a little explanation, and it goes back to the stretch run last season, before third base was even a serious consideration. But Jim Leyland agreed.

It was Leyland who challenged Cabrera going into September 2011 to bear down consistently and hit his way to a batting crown. He was in a close race, but Leyland still saw him giving away at-bats, something Leyland has discussed with him since he came over from the Marlins.

“I told him, ‘I want to see you win this batting title,'” Leyland recalled Thursday night after the MVP announcement. “And he went on a concentration mission that’s unbelievable.”

When Cabrera’s comments about moving to third came up, Leyland thought of that run.

“I definitely think that’s true,” Leyland said, “and I’ll tell you why: I think going to third base helped his total concentration in all phases. I think it helped him at the plate. He was always [involved] in the game. I think he really concentrated on third base and he did a great job. He did a great job.

“They’re all making fun of us last winter. Oh, he can’t play third base.”

That concentration, Leyland said, was at its highest down the stretch this season. For some voters who have made their reasoning public, that September stretch was the time when Cabrera won the award. I can’t argue, because when I wrote about Cabrera’s MVP case in early August, I didn’t suggest he was the front-runner. I said he still had time to become that.

“He’s been giving away fewer at-bats away each year,” Leyland said. “And when he doesn’t give at-bats away, you see how good he can be.”



I’m reminded of a conversation I found myself in this past March, under the stands at Joker Marchant. I was waiting for my wife to come along and struck up a conversation with a guy wearing Cubs gear, the kind of thing that happens often in spring training. He immediately launched into a negative tirade about Cabrera’s inability to play thirdbase, citing the eye injury from two days before, an event I witnessed in person. I tried to explain the conditions leading to the injury but the guy would have none of it. It went back and forth for a short time as I realized this person had never even seen Miggy play thirdbase. He finally said Cabrera “plays the position like a 10-year old” at which time I said simply “I don’t agree” and walked some ten feet away from him to take up a new position to await my wife. Actions speak louder than words. I wonder if that fellow ever did see Cabrera play thirdbase. He was very obviously wrong in his opinion. Miguel proved a lot of people wrong this season.
I don’t pay a lot of attention to individual awards so I missed most of the rancor in the online discussions. My opinion is that it essentially came down to who had the better September.

i have talked to several people who cannot – for whatever reason – wrap their head around the idea that Cabby does play a acceptable 3rd base and isn’t some raging alcoholic. It is probably the same thing with Lebron James or any other phenom athlete.

I think the move to third challenged him to lose weight and become a better athlete, which can only improve every aspect of his game. He did a solid job at third, and will probably be better and more comfortable their in 2013. The organization would never have moved Castellanos into the outfield if they had any doubts about Miggy’s future at third base. Trout had a great year, and nothing can take away from that, it’s just the Cabrera is the MVP!

Speaking of weight loss. I think Miggy could be an even better defender and all around better player if he were able to shed about 10 pounds —and keep it off. He has an athletic body and this could enhance his performance.
I’m not sure how important it would be for Prince to lose some weight as he certainly does not have an athletic body and his awkwardness doesn’t stem from his weight.

I’ve written about Cabrera’s offseason workouts the last couple years. Haven’t tracked anything about it so far, but it’ll be interesting to see if anything changes now that he’s set at third base. It wouldn’t surprise me if he drops a few pounds, but I know Leyland and others in the organization don’t want him to lose so much that it reflects in his power.

cabby had it in him the whole time. the guy is just amazing – i probably will not see another like him, in my life.

La Russa , Coco Crisp, Joba, Lincecum have two thing in common. They were arrested for DUI and Passan never mentions that when writing about them
I read today the most biased and nativist article in a while. He compared the MVP for Cabrera to intelligent design. Of course, he said nothing about Verlander leader in WAR surpassed by Price.
It is not the first time, every article about Cabrera mentions his past problem. But his memory is good only for him and Hamilton.
Of course, no mention of the travesty of voting for Braun either

This whole business is why I don’t pay much attention to individual or team awards that are decided by a voting process.

yea good points by eltigre and rich. I can only hope players recognize the biases and take little stock.

Actually I think players, managers, and coaches should be the ones to vote on this stuff. I know they do, but not on the “official” awards.

personally I am still red hot made at the detroit media people (you and I both know who you are) who gave Miggy a really hard time when he got in trouble. One of those people is Mitch Albom – and i thought he was such a nice guy prior to the comments.

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