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Miguel Cabrera blames loss of power on lack of lineup protection

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Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera has an otherwise decent triple-slash line: .298/.363/.372. However, the lack of power is noticeable for the future Hall of Famer, who has hit just one of his 466 career home runs this season.

By many measures the Tigers have the worst offense in the American League. For example, the Tigers’ average of 3.47 runs per game is worst in the league, significantly behind the second-worst Indians at 3.81. Cabrera in fact, attributes his lack of power to his lack of lineup protection, Chris Nelsen reports for the Detroit Free Press. Cabrera said, “You know Prince Fielder? You know who’s hitting behind me right now? That’s a big difference, too.”

Cabrera added, “How am I going to hit 40 home runs. In the past, I got Prince Fielder, Víctor Martínez, Jhonny Peralta. I got a big bat behind me. You see the way guys pitch me? That explains everything.”

Niko Goodrum has most commonly batted cleanup behind Cabrera this season, doing so in 24 of 31 games. He hasn’t been bad, owning a .224/.336/.398 triple-slash line. No, not prime Prince Fielder or Víctor Martínez but also nothing to sneeze at. Goodrum’s .735 OPS is just a hair under the league average of .744.

Pitchers haven’t really altered how they pitch Cabrera, overall. According to FanGraphs, Cabrera is currently seeing a career-low percentage of fastballs at 53.3 percent. His career average is 58.4 percent and was as high as 59.6 percent in 2011. However, that’s in line with the overall league trend. Batters saw 58.7 percent fastballs in 2010 and are seeing 53 percent this year.

Furthermore, pitchers have actually pitched Cabrera outside the strike zone slightly more than he’s used to, but that’s also attributable to the overall league trend. Pitchers were in the strike zone 45.3 percent of the time throughout his career, but only 42.2 percent this season. The league-wide percentage was at 45.8 percent in 2010 and only 42.8 percent in 2019. Cabrera is also seeing a career-high percentage of first-pitch strikes (66.9%), and he’s swinging and missing at his second-highest rate in the last decade (10.8%).

I don’t buy that a lack of lineup protection is the reason Cabrera isn’t hitting for power. He hit just 16 home runs in 130 games in 2017, and three in 38 games last year, which is only slightly better than the one in 31 games he has this season. The easier explanation is that he’s 36 years old. He battled a hamstring injury last year and his body is starting to wear down, as it does for almost all players in their mid-30’s. His bat speed has slowed. Cabrera is one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game, but not even he can outrun Father Time.

Rumor: MLB execs discussing 100-game season that would begin July 1

David Price and Mookie Betts
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Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.

In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.

Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.

Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.