Miguel Cabrera scoffs at power outage: 'You know who’s hitting behind me?'
Miguel Cabrera has a message for fans critical of his power numbers this season: Don’t worry about it.
Coming off an injury-shortened 2018, in which Cabrera hit three home runs in 157 plate appearances, the Detroit Tigers slugger and former Triple Crown winner entered Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Royals with one homer in 112 at-bats.
Splitting time between first base and designated hitter, Cabrera’s average continues creeping toward .300 — he had 33 hits, for a .295 average entering Saturday — and his 12 RBIs were second on the team behind Christin Stewart’s 13.
“People worry about what?” Cabrera said before Saturday’s game at Comerica Park. “Home runs are coming when they’re coming. I don’t worry about home runs. I worry about getting my job done.
“(Fans) need to understand baseball first. After that, if they need to worry about something, they’ll worry. They don’t need to worry about power.”
Since hitting a career-high 44 home runs in both 2012 and 2013, Cabrera’s power has declined. He hit 25 homers in 2014 and 18 in 2015. He regrouped with 38 in 2016 and belted 16 two years ago.
With the Tigers in a rebuild and void of superstar talent throughout the lineup, opposing pitchers are able to work around Cabrera, giving him fewer quality pitches than he saw in years past.
“You know Prince Fielder?” Cabrera said. “You know who’s hitting behind me right now? That’s a big difference, too.
“How am I going to hit 40 home runs? In the past, I got Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta. I got a big bat behind me. You see the way guys pitch me? That explains everything.”
Niko Goodrum has spent most of the season hitting fourth for the Tigers. In 22 games hitting cleanup this season — entering Saturday — Goodrum has hit .253 with three home runs and seven doubles. The other four hitters who've hit cleanup have six hits in 30 at-bats.
Cabrera got off the snide this season on April 26, hitting career home run No. 466 at the Chicago White Sox, breaking a tie with Dave Winfield for 35th in MLB history.
“It’s just baseball right now,” Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos said of Cabrera’s power. “He can go off and hit 15 next month. I don’t really believe in slumps.”
Cabrera isn’t the only one struggling with the long ball, though. The Tigers entered Saturday last in MLB with 21 total home runs. Seattle and Milwaukee were leading baseball with 61 apiece.
Four Tigers began Saturday with three homers: Goodrum, Gordon Beckham, Grayson Greiner and Stewart. Castellanos had two home runs and Jeimer Candelario had none.
“It’s called Comerica Park, and the average temperature is under 40 degrees, 45 degrees,” Castellanos said. “We played one game in a hitter-friendly park in nice weather (against the White Sox) and look how many homers we hit.”
They hit five home runs in that game in Chicago on April 26.
Candelario doesn’t believe Cabrera deserves criticism for his lack of home-run production.
“The power will come, no matter what,” Candelario said. “Right now, it’s cold weather and the ball doesn’t carry that much. If you hit the ball hard, it’s going to go out.
“Miguel Cabrera is Miguel Cabrera. He’s going to hit for power and average. He’s a big talent. No matter who’s talking, he’s going to do his job. He’s going to drive in runs, hit for power and hit .300.”