Tigers' Ron Gardenhire on Miguel Cabrera's Home Run Comments: 'A Little Crazy'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2019

Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) and manager Ron Gardenhire talk before the first inning of the first game of a baseball doubleheader against the New York Yankees, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has 466 career home runs, 10 seasons with 30 or more homers, two American League MVPs, a Triple Crown and a mere one long ball in 121 at-bats this year.

Despite Cabrera's suggestion otherwise, manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't think the power shortage is because of lackluster players behind him in the lineup.

"It is what it is," Gardenhire said Sunday when discussing the lack of home runs and Cabrera's implication he doesn't have enough protection in the order, per Chris Nelsen of the Detroit Free Press (h/t USA Today).

"You can put it off wherever you want to put it off. He just hasn't hit home runs yet. He's a Hall of Famer; I'm not going to sit here and criticize a Hall of Famer. But that statement is kind of a little crazy. We've had all kinds of people (hitting behind Cabrera)."

Nelsen noted Cabrera blamed the downgrade in his protection for the lack of power in part on Saturday.

"You know Prince Fielder? You know who's hitting behind me right now? That's a big difference, too. How am I going to hit 40 home runs? In the past, I got Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta. I got a big bat behind me. You see the way guys pitch me? That explains everything."

While there is no questioning Cabrera's status as one of the best players of his generation, he is also coming off an injury-shortened 2018 campaign that saw him hit three home runs in 38 games.

The 36-year-old is surely past his prime (he had just 16 homers in 2017) and isn't the same offensive force he once was when he was hitting behind the likes of Fielder and others.

Still, he has a point that players such as Niko Goodrum and Ronny Rodriguez—who hit fourth and fifth behind him during Sunday's victory over the Kansas City Royals—don't strike the same fear in opposing pitchers as those other names. That allows opponents to pitch around Cabrera and attack other areas in the lineup, which is one reason the Tigers are just 15-16.

He can at least take solace in the fact that he is producing in other ways and slashing a solid .298/.363/.372. If he continues to hit for a high average and eventually finds his power stroke, he can ensure these comments from both himself and his manager are a thing of the past as the Tigers battle in the American League Central.