Opening Day 2023: What Can Detroit Tigers’ Fans Expect From Miguel Cabrera During His Last Stand

Baseball: World Baseball Classic

In the midst of a Michigan snowstorm two years ago, aging Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera launched a first-inning, two-run home run on Opening Day. 

The moment.

The image. 

Classic Cabrera.

AJ Hinch: ‘We Need Miggy To Be Good’

What can Tigers’ fans expect from the injury-plagued future first-ballet Hall of Famer during his curtain call?

Cabrera’s eight-year, $248 million contract expires at season’s end, capping a run that included a Triple Crown, two Most Valuable Player honors and 12 All-Star Games. He led the Tigers to four division titles and an American League pennant. Now a 40-year-old part-time designated hitter, Cabrera is one of three players to compile at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 500 home runs.

He’s an icon, but he’s coming off a season in which he generated little extra-base power, connecting on five homers and 10 doubles in 433 plate appearances.

During his final Opening Day, Cabrera will bat seventh in the Tigers’ batting order against Tampa Bay Rays ace Shane McClanahan on Thursday. Cabrera’s time as a middle-order slugger may be passed but Tigers manager AJ Hinch did not diminish Cabrera’s role. His chronic right knee problems will need to be constantly monitored.

“We need to learn as much from Miggy as we can while we have him as an active player,” Hinch said, as reported by The Detroit News. “We also need Miggy to be good. Our best team needs Miggy to perform and produce and do whatever is asked of him. And he’s willing to do that.”

If Cabrera remains healthy and in uniform for at least one game per series, he can expect a moment of celebration at each visiting ballpark. He’s earned it.

“It’s hard to think about retiring after the season,” he said. “I want to go out there and be me and have fun.”

Classic Cabrera.

Miguel Cabrera Hopes To Go Out With Bang, Not Whimper

Tigers’ fans may be hoping for Cabrera to make it through the season productive in a part-time role and remain injury-free, but history suggests the final seasons for players in the 3,000-hit fraternity can be brutal. 

Here is a look at five underwhelming finales: 

  • Hank Aaron, 42, retired as MLB’s all-time home run leader, but compiled a career-low .229 batting average in 308 plate appearances. He did, however, connect on 10 homers.  
  • Rickey Henderson, 44, ended his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, batting .208 in 84 plate appearances. At least MLB’s all-time stolen base king nabbed all three attempts. 
  • Cal Ripken, 41, called it quits three years after he ended his all-time games played streak. It was time. He recorded a .637 OPS in 516 plate appearances, the lowest of any AL hitter with at least 500 plate appearances. 
  • Alex Rodriguez, 40, retired after posting an anemic .598 OPS. He was paid $32 million for his troubles. 
  • Dave Winfield, 41, left his hometown Minnesota Twins for a final shot with the Cleveland Indians, but only managed two homers and five doubles in 130 plate appearances. He was left off the Indians’ 1995 postseason roster.

Cabrera on Thursday went 1-for-4 and left three runners on base during the Tigers’ 4-0 loss to the Rays. His one hit? A line-drive double.

Classic Cabrera.

Arrow to top