On Thursday night, Miguel Cabrera hit a homerun. Generally this wouldn’t be news but he’s been battling injuries for six weeks and hadn’t hit a bomb since September 17th and only had one since August 27th. Miguel Cabrera hit 43 homeruns through August 26th and 44 homeruns through Wednesday. Again, he’s been hurt. It’s limited his playing time and cut down on his ability to drive the ball to some extent. We’re not surprised that he’s struggling because he’s obvious some diminished version of himself.
On Thursday night he turned a Sonny Gray fastball into a two run homerun. Here’s a gif via Jeff Sullivan’s excellent post at FanGraphs:
Notice anything different? It didn’t jump out at me at first, but this tweet showed up on my doorstep this morning:
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-handed-finish homerun. That’s pretty strange. That’s not Cabrera’s swing. It looks good, but it’s not typical. Cabrera hit 22 HR this year on inside fastballs and I watched every single one. He finished with one hand every time. I don’t know how to make .gifs, but I can do screenshots. The following is a typical finish:
Watch the .gif and then look at the screenshot. Miguel Cabrera tried a new swing against Sonny Gray on Thursday and still managed to hit a homerun. It gets a bit more interesting. Take a peak at his finish on his long fly out on Tuesday. Fastball, inner half.
It’s unclear to me why he tried the new swing. I suspected it was an injury because he didn’t want to let his left side fly open as far, but he had no problem doing so two days earlier. Maybe things got worse or maybe he made some weird adjustment based on what Gray was doing. Cabrera is known for his exceptional hitting IQ. I went back to look at a few ABs from the worst period of his injury – all one handed finishes.
The takeaway point is this. Miguel Cabrera can try a new swing for the first time in a winner take all playoff game while hurt against a really good pitcher and still hit a homerun in a giant park. Good grief.