According to this month’s Sports Illustrated, which did a feature story on the art of the baseball swing, a 90 mph fastball will reach the catchers mitt in 400 milliseconds. The human brain needs 200 milliseconds to conceptualize the pitch and send signals for the body to swing, the actual act of swinging a baseball through the zone takes 150 milliseconds. This leaves 50 milliseconds for the batter to recognize the pitch, the location, to decide whether or not to swing, and what path to swing upon. So yeah, these Major League hitters are good.
But Miguel Cabrera is in an entirely different league. Right now the Tigers right-handed third baseman is batting.356 with 41 home runs and 126 RBIs. For your information, that’s good for 1st, 2nd, and 1st place respectively in the American League amongst qualifying players. For those of you who prefer Moneyball stats, Cabrera has posted a 1.128 OPS, has a sizzling .447 on-base percentage, and has nearly WAR of nearly 7.
This brings up the conversation of the best right handed hitters of all time. Pujols? A-Rod? Hank Aaron? Willie Mays? Miggy has batted over .300 in 8 of the past nine seasons, led the league in on-base percentage three times, hasn’t posted fewer than 106 RBIs in a season since his rookie year with Florida, and has been intentionally walked 177 times in his short career.
If he continues this pace and plays another 5-10 years, it’s safe to say that 3,500 hits, 700 home runs, and 700 doubles are definitely in play. Barry Bonds had 688 intentional walks in his career, but the next highest is Hank Aaron with 298. So, Cabrera could become one of the top two most feared hitters in the history of baseball barring a major falloff.
Not only is he this years MVP runaway, he was last year’s Triple Crown winner and is flirting with it again this year. Nobody had won it since Carl Yaztremski in 1967.. and Cabrera may win it in consecutive years.
Taking a break from the numbers and the accolades for a second, hasn’t it been a pleasure watching Cabrera hit for the last ten years? How often do you get to see a historically great athlete compete in his prime? I say the only experiences like it today are Adrian Peterson running a football, Michael Phelps swimming the 150 freestyle, LeBron James on the basketball court, Usain Bolt running the 100 meter dash, and Miguel Cabrera hitting a baseball. That’s the list. When Tiger Woods was dominating golf in the early 2000’s, it was the same kind of feeling. He wasn’t just head and shoulders better than the competition. He was an entire torso and waistline ahead of the runner up. Same with Cabrera. Sure, Mike Trout and Chris Davis are having good years. But .356, 41, 126? Those numbers are ridiculous. All sports fans should take a moment to watch a Miguel Cabrera at-bat, because it’s a special thing that only rolls around every so often.