It's difficult to criticize the only offensive player on the Tigers that strikes fear into the hearts of opponents, but when the Tigers needed him, Miguel Cabrera was nowhere to be found.
By no means is Cabrera the only reason for the Tigers' astounding fall from grace to finish the season, but a peek at his numbers over the final 10 games of the season, a stretch that saw the team go 4-6 when 5-5 would have cinched a playoff berth, reveals a startling line: .237 avg, 4 runs, 5 RBI, 2 HR, 6 BB, 6 SO. Most of that production came in a single game, a 4-for-6, 4 RBI night in a big win against the Chicago White Sox. Take that game away and you have nine games in which Cabrera hit .156 with a single RBI, getting on base only once in the final series against the White Sox.
In seven of those 10 games Magglio Ordonez hit ahead of Cabrera, and posted a batting average of .500.
In nine of those games, Placido Polanco hit two spots ahead of Cabrera and posted a batting average of .316.
In eight of those games, Curtis Granderson led off and posted a batting average of .270 (.292 if you include the game in which he batted seventh).
The three of them posted 16 RBI over the final ten games, matching Cabrera's production per capita. Every one of those players raised their batting average at least 20 points over their season numbers for the Tigers' final ten games. Cabrera's dipped by 86.
Make no mistake, the Tigers have fallen as a team. An unstable rotation and a lack of intimidating hitters allowed the Twins and White Sox to prevent the Tigers from winning any of their final three series. But, for $14 million, it is fair for Tiger Nation to expect Miguel Cabrera to step up when it really matters. The three men ahead of him elevated their games when the team needed to win, and while the Tigers would certainly not be in this position without Cabrera's yearlong contributions, he has let them down when they needed him the most.
Cabrera is still money well-spent (especially compared to Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Magglio Ordonez), but without his bat leading the charge, even if the Tigers prevail in the Metrodome Tuesday night, they will fizzle in the playoffs