Miguel Cabrera: A GIFGRAPHS Analysis

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Miguel Cabrera started his 2014 season in style by signing a massive contract extension that will keep him in Detroit through the end at least one additional presidential administration and millions of Hot-N-Ready’s. He was coming off back to back M”V”P awards and four straight 6+ win seasons. He probably wasn’t the best player in the game, but he was very close. He was also recovering from offseason surgery to repair what ailed him down the stretch in 2013, so there were some questions about his overall performance.

And we got some pretty weird answers through the year. While I don’t ever want to make too much of arbitrary end points or splits, I think carving his season into months is an easy way to demonstrate the year he had. Cabrera had two of his best offensive months as a big leaguer and a couple of his worst all in the same season.

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April and August were rough months for the slugger and May and September were among the very best. The June-July window was below average, but not to the degree that we would notice if not for the other extremes. You can take a look at his ten full seasons prior to 2014 and his monthly highs and lows in this chart to see exactly how he stacked up.

For such a consistent offensive performer, Cabrera had a wildly inconsistent season. We know that there were underlying injuries driving this train, but I do have to say that the final month is pretty interesting. You can look at the rest of the season and say, Cabrera got hurt in June and it really affected him into August. You’re not shocked by a comeback, but such a massive one is pretty odd. Probably just a touch of sample size and regression to the mean, but the recovery itself was awful fast.

Here’s how he looked in August:

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Now September:

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There’s no perfect way to visually compare the way a player was swinging over long periods of time, but I think these two swings represent the issues well enough. Watch each GIF three times. Watch his arms. Watch the rotation of his upper body. Watch his legs. Also, for fun, watch how long it takes him to get down the line the first time.

Cabrera is a gifted hitter, but he’s clearly vulnerable to injuries at this point in his career. You don’t have to worry much about him losing the gift next year, but you absolutely need to worry about his health.

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