Detroit News reporter Chris McCosky recently caught up with former Tiger J.D. Martinez to ask him about his time as Miguel Cabrera’s teammate. His comments about what Miggy had to play through during his prime were pretty staggering.
“When I was here, I was always scared,” Martinez said. “I couldn't ever take a day off. Miggy's going out there with a broken foot. How am I supposed to take a day off? Are you kidding me? I remember when we were in Minnesota and Nick (Castellanos) fouled a ball off his foot and the next day he didn't play.
“Miggy was pissed. And Nick's like, 'I don't get it.' I'm like, 'The guy's out there playing with a broken foot, bro. He's got freaking bone spurs everywhere. You foul a ball off your foot and you can't play? It better be broken.'”
It’s no secret that Miguel Cabrera has declined steadily over the last few seasons. It’s no ones fault except the injuries. Even at his worst, the thing I’ve always respected about Miguel Cabrera is that he’s never fallen out of love with the game of baseball. I think he has woken up every day fully committed to being the best player that he can be and I will always give him credit for that, especially considering how financially stable and how successful he’s been throughout his career. I think it says a lot about who he is as a player that he still cares at all, and his chase towards home run number 500 and hit number 3,000 has been a wonderful reminders of how lucky Tigers fans were to watch this guy go to work every day.
J.D’s comments speak for themselves. The Tigers were deadlocked in a tight AL Central race with the Royals in 2014. They ultimately ended up winning the division on the last day of the season, though Kansas City ended up making it to the World Series. With that said, simply playing with an injury as brutal as a broken foot is impressive enough, but Miggy was better on 1 foot than most hitters are on 2. In the month of September in 2014, Miguel Cabrera ranked 5th in baseball in batting average, 1st in doubles, 2nd in home runs, 1st in slugging percentage, and 1st in OPS. He was the best hitter in baseball in the month of September, and he did it with a broken foot.
I talked about this when I wrote about Jacob deGrom a few months ago, but sometimes greatness gets taken advantage of. I wish the last 5 years of Miguel Cabrera’s career would’ve gone differently. As much as I adore everything that he’s done, the numbers reflect that he has not been a productive player over the last 5 seasons, but it hasn’t been for lack of trying. I know there’s obviously a personal bias, but at his peak, I’ve never seen any hitter like Miguel Cabrera, and he'll always be the man for sacrificing his body to try to win in Detroit.