Miguel Cabrera’s Armchair Zone Rating: Results

Yesterday, in these pages, I suggested that possibly — if not probably — Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander could have entered the seventh inning of his Sunday start against Pittsburgh in pursuit of his third career no-hitter. The basis for that suggestion rested on the fact that both of the hits he allowed before that seventh inning were (a) of the infield variety and (b) hit in the direction of Miguel Cabrera, who is generally speaking considered to be something of a defensive liability at third base.

With that in mind, I provided video footage of the two hits — a bunt single by outfielder Alex Presley and an infield hit for catcher Michael McKenry — allowed by Verlander through the first six innings. With regard to each hit, I asked the learned, bespectacled readership to answer a single question — namely, “Do you think a league-average third baseman would convert this batted-ball into an out?”

Now here are the results:

• Of 785 respondents, only 213 (or, 27.1%) thought that the league-average third baseman would have converted Alex Presley’s bunt attempt into an out.

• Of those same 785 respondents, a more robust 638 (or, 81.3%) thought that a league-average third baseman would have converted Michael McKenry’s ground ball into an out.

From these results, we might conclude — for what it’s worth — that, of the two hits Justin Verlander allowed through the first six innings of his Sunday start, about one of them was his and one of them was Miguel Cabrera’s.

Among the commentariat in that original post, there was considerable discussion — regarding Cabrera’s performance to date (with which, anecdotally speaking, Tiger fans seem pleasantly surprised), the question of positioning (and to what degree the Tiger coaching staff might be responsible for the pair of hits in question), and whether Presley would have attempted a bunt in the first place had a league-average (or better) defender been playing third base.

Another narrative strain that arose among commenters: whether Cabrera’s third-base defense is an issue or not, there are other Tigers — Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn, Delmon Young — who have been even less able afield, while also providing less in the way of offensive returns.



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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Yinka Double Dare
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Yinka Double Dare
4 years 1 month ago

“with which, anecdotally speaking, Tiger fans seem pleasantly surprised”

If you expect “a bigger butcher than HH Holmes” and he’s just merely terrible, you’d still be pleasantly surprised.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
4 years 1 month ago

+1,000,000 for the HH Holmes reference

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
4 years 1 month ago

He killed people, those references aren’t funny.

twinsfan
Member
twinsfan
4 years 1 month ago

Too soon?

TheWrightStache
Member
Member
TheWrightStache
4 years 1 month ago

Have we forgotten how Miggy suffered a broken FACE trying to play third in spring training? Tigers fans just hoped he’d be able to survive. Not only is he still upright and trotting out to the hot corner every inning, but he even fields a ball here and there, which is just gravy.

ThePartyBird
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ThePartyBird
4 years 1 month ago

Umm, every third baseman ever gets destroyed by that ball in Spring Training that hit him in the face. Reactions aren’t Miggy’s problem; it’s mobility.

nobleisthyname
Member
nobleisthyname
4 years 1 month ago

lol no. The average third baseman knocks that ball down. The Zimmermans and Longorias field it and get the out.

Mikey
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Mikey
4 years 1 month ago

Which Zimmermans and Longorias? Are there now multiple 3B-playing Zimmermans and multiple 3B-playing Longorias?

rea
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rea
4 years 1 month ago

Thought he was including Bob and Eva

KDL
Guest
KDL
4 years 1 month ago

I remember Adrian Beltre, he of admirable defensive ability, taking one to the nut-sack a few seasons ago. Isolated, single plays tell us nothing of significance about a defenders ability. Is Cabrera pretty bad defensively? Yes. Does getting hit in the face support that claim at all? Not really.

whatever
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whatever
4 years 1 month ago

He’s passable at third because of the bat and the defense is not attrocious. Is he Evan Longoria? No. But he’s notMark Trumbo either.

chuckb
Member
chuckb
4 years 1 month ago

No, you can stick Trumbo in the OF also and he won’t kill you. Not only can’t Cabrera play third capably, you certainly couldn’t even attempt to put him in the OF, even adjacent to Austin Jackson.

juan pierres mustache
Member
Member
4 years 1 month ago

people said that about Agon too, and he’s been bad but not so bad that they couldn’t put him in the OF–not sure i’d expect miggy to do much worse

Matt
Guest
Matt
4 years 1 month ago

I think he has done quite well.(atleast compared to what mine and most expectations were) He doesn’t get to a ton of balls out of his zone but he’s gotten to 16 of them which is about middle of the pack compared to other 3B. But he has really excelled at the balls he should convert, Of the 96 balls that were labeled as being hit in his zone he has converted 91 of them, which is pretty good if you ask me. Also his DRS is “only” 0(I figured most would think he’d be way worse than that) So far I think it’s fair to say he has exceeded almost everybody’s expectations.

Michael
Member
Michael
4 years 1 month ago

The defense is not atrocious? He looks ok at balls hit right to him but he’s a pylon on everything else. Have you not looked at his UZR??

Matt
Guest
Matt
4 years 1 month ago

UZR isn’t the be all end all stat. Absrubal Cabrera had the lowest UZR at short last year yet I don’t think I ever heard any scout or baseball guy call him a pylon or atrocious defender.

eliasll
Member
eliasll
4 years 1 month ago

Agree. Asdrubal plays gold glove caliber SS. Miggy has done a decent job, I would say league avg. Watch the games people! UZR my ass

hmmm
Guest
hmmm
4 years 1 month ago

I don’t know. By UZR he’s bad, but not THAT bad. But visually he doesn’t look very adept at 3rd base. The bigger issues are LF and 2B for the tigers, however.

Nathan
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Nathan
4 years 1 month ago

RF and 2B moreso (with the way Leyland has been aligning it recently anyways), and the problem on the left side of the infield is more the fact that it is a combination of Cabrera and Peralta.

the fume
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the fume
4 years 1 month ago

His UZR/150 is currently about -10 at 3B. At 1B it was around -4 or so. So sample size and all, but he loses 6 runs with the switch, but with the gain in positional adjustment he makes that back and more.

DRS says he’s 0 right now, and from what I’ve seen I’d put him at -5 to -10. But no Tiger fans are really calling the switch a bad move, I’d say most think it has worked out and are happy to see him at 3B for the next couple seasons.

Paul
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Paul
4 years 1 month ago

I have seen many attempts at writing a full article in true late 1800s old-timey narrative style. Some brilliant attempts failed about 2/3 of the way through, most authors just can’t close the deal on a great idea. Then there is Carson. Well done, sir.

Robb Rowe
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Robb Rowe
4 years 1 month ago

They’re not saying “boo,” they’re saying “Cistuuuuuuuuulli!”

Coodle
Member
Coodle
4 years 1 month ago

719 respondents are Miguel Cabrera’s mother.

the fume
Guest
the fume
4 years 1 month ago

I agree that it’s an interesting point regarding whether or not Presley would have even bunted…..I kind of take maybe the reverse approach, in that as a Tiger fan I welcome opposition players to bunt and bunt. Best result for them is a single, and Fister and Verlander are excellent at holding/picking off runners so it’s not going to be a double. And Miggy’s conversion rate on bunts isn’t so low that it would ever be a problem. (And it would mean fewer balls hit between 3rd and short, which is a problem).

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
4 years 1 month ago

Fair point. One thing Cabrera has in his favor is that he can afford to be a bit slow in getting to a bunt because he throws very hard and is generally on target.

Darrell Berger
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Darrell Berger
4 years 1 month ago

Cabrera IS a league average third baseman, or not far from it. He comes in well, has a sure glove and a plus arm, just no range. I wonder, however, about an unintended consequence of the move. He lost at least 20 pounds to become more mobile, which is admirable, BUT, I do not see as much raw power at bat. Plus the energy he puts out at third may be taken away from his focus at bat. He is NOT the hitter he has been. He’s still terriifc, just not one of the top 5 in baseball. Youkillis’ offense dived when he moved to third, too. I wonder, if moving to a more challenging defensive position often casues offensive loss. There is a SABR study here. Also, Fielder is a MUCH worse first baseman than Cabrera, plus Peralta’s lack of range is more of a negative than last year next to Inge. So over all, it is a complicated equation for Tigers fans.

wat?
Guest
wat?
4 years 1 month ago

Cabrera is very fat and lazy in terms of conditioning. He’s so out of shape that a cursory glance confirms one’s suspicions that he is terribly out of shape. He gets gassed from “running” from first to home one a double. He’s roughly 6’3″ and 265 (the official figures are usually quite generous both on height and weight). A 6’3″ man that is pretty jacked would not weigh 265 even if very muscular. He has WAY too much excess fat.

He would be better served losing MORE weight and actually turning some of the fat into muscle. How do you get tired from standing around all day? Baseball is NOT very strenuous physically. Its very much a skill sport. One one end of the skill-physicality spectrum is golf, pretty much all skill and no conditioning required. One the other extreme is distance running and cycling, sports that require (no joke) 120+miles per week, hundreds of miles of biking per week, and very little skill.

If Cabrera and Fielder actually got in shape, they could easily add a win or two to their WAR totals at seasons end.

Matt
Guest
Matt
4 years 1 month ago

Ummm while I agree he’s overweight, your statement that even a jacked 6-3 man couldn’t weigh 265 is just..,, wrong. Vernon David is 6’2 and weighed 260 at the combine when he was in about as good a shape as any human being in history. 265 really isn’t all that big.

Steve
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Steve
4 years 1 month ago

Vernon Davis is an absolute physical freak. He also ran a sub 4.4 40 yard dash at that size. Baseball players are frankly not football players in terms of muscle and shouldn’t be. It would cause a lack of mobility in the chest and shoulders.

rea
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rea
4 years 1 month ago

Have you seen him play this year? Because he sure doesn’t look fat or lazy, and he reported this spring 20 lbs lighter than the year before.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
4 years 1 month ago

Look at his offensive numbers again. The “problem” is that he set an absurdly high bar the last three seasons, that an otherwise good season this year looks crummy in relative terms. We also have over half-a-season left, so let’s see what happens. He can still easily be a .400 wOBA player. At any rate, I just wouldn’t read to much into this theory yet because we’re looking at what has amounted to an 80 game experiment… you know, sample size and all that.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
4 years 1 month ago

So there are at least 10-15 starting third basemen who are worse? Care to name a few? Are you saying he’s been average in 2 1/2 months according to at least one stat?

Dave K
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Dave K
4 years 1 month ago

There may not be 10-15 3b that are worse, but many others that are average. It’s more likely a bell curve…a few awesome on one end, a few horrible on the other with a bunch of average guys in the middle.

Crosseyed
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Crosseyed
4 years 1 month ago

Boesch is so bad it’s impressive.

Technician School
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Technician School
4 years 1 month ago

They are taught organization skills, data storage for online and manual systems, medical terminologies, dictation, longhand, shorthand and other relevant skills in order for them to be able to cope with the workload. Medical Transcriptionists Training in DE

Keith
Guest
4 years 1 month ago

Carson, I love your way with words, your humor, and your insights.

Obviously Cabrera at the hot corner is not ideal. But what’s an alternative?

chuckb
Member
chuckb
4 years 1 month ago

Creating a roster with some position players and fewer than 5 or 6 DHs?

rea
Guest
rea
4 years 1 month ago

So, who would you throw overboard? Cabrera, Fielder, or Martinez?

Marc
Guest
Marc
4 years 1 month ago

Cabrera looks worse because Peratla is a statue at shortstop. If the tigers had a shortstop and second baseman with more range, the liabilities at first and third could be covered up. Maybe the best solution would be to move Peralta to second and install a shortstop with more range.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
4 years 1 month ago

This.

The problem is you have both Cabrera and Peralta on the same side of the infield, and unsurprisingly, Peralta has not been able to match his offensive production of last season, so the team would look a lot better with a Jamey Carroll type in at short.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
4 years 1 month ago

He has generated 2.5 WAR in less than half a season. That makes him 5-6 WAR player over a full season, most teams will take the crappy defense to get that offense. He is also a charter member of the future DH’s of America.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan
4 years 1 month ago

He looks to be a 6 WAR player this season with his current production level and ZIPS projections. And we all know he is capable of having a torrid few weeks at the plate that could bump that number closer to 7 in a hurry. Even a 6 win season would still be one of his three or four best seasons and nothing alarming or out of place in his career arc.

Dave K
Guest
Dave K
4 years 1 month ago

What’s the objective of this analysis?

If it’s to determine if Verlander would have had a no hitter through seven innings if it weren’t for Miguel Cabrera, then I guess this is a decent way to look at it. I’m not sure how valuable that information is, but this is probably a good way to come to a conclusion.

If the point of this is to determine if Miguel Cabrera is a bad/average/awesome third baseman, then I can’t think of a worse analysis. About 700 opinions on two plays in a single game isn’t going to answer that for us.

That all being said, I echo other comments that Miggy has more or less been passing the eyeball test and doesn’t appear to be the disaster everyone expected, but I’m curious to see how the numbers shake out through the rest of the season.

wpDiscuz