Publicly at least the Tigers have been saying good things about Miguel Cabrera’s transition back to third base this spring and yesterday manager Jim Leyland took it a step further by reiterating that Cabrera will not be removed from regular season games in the late innings for a better defender.
“He’s the third baseman,” Leyland told Jason Beck of MLB.com. “That’s the way it is and I’m not ‘defensing’ for him. I’ve seen that too many times.”
Leyland is referring to the times when an excellent hitter is removed from the game for a better defender only to have his lineup spot come to the plate again in a key spot, which is most often an issue during the playoffs when over-managing is far more common.
Leyland sounds very committed to not taking Cabrera out of games defensively, but he’ll be tempted on a daily basis thanks to Brandon Inge and/or Ramon Santiago likely being on the bench most games.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has launched what appears to be the beginning of an auspicious career, made all the more notable by the 50 home runs he’s produced for the Mets so far this season. The All-Star slugger pushed his home run streak to four straight games on Friday, collecting no. 50 on an eighth-inning fastball from the Reds’ Sal Romano.
It’s just the latest of a long line of accomplishments for the 24-year-old infielder. Entering Friday’s series opener against Cincinnati, the first-time All-Star carried a .266/.366/.590 batting line with a league-leading 49 homers, 113 RBI, a .956 OPS and 4.9 fWAR through 648 plate appearances. Among those who are still rounding out their rookie seasons in 2019, he ranks first in home runs and fWAR by a long shot: the White Sox’ Eloy Jiménez is second in home runs with 28 dingers, while the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez plays second fiddle in fWAR with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement.
Even more remarkable: Alonso is the second rookie in MLB history to deliver at least 50 home runs in a single season. The first? Aaron Judge, who clubbed a jaw-dropping 52 homers for the Yankees in 2017.