2004 Marlins Outfield Preview: Right Field
Will Cabrera Handle Even More Pressure in 2004?
Will Cabrera Handle Even More Pressure in 2004?
Publisher
Posted Apr 3, 2004


Miguel Cabrera rose to the challenge of every obstacle given to him in 2003; a mid-season promotion, two position changes, and playing in the post-season against some of the most storied teams in baseball history. In 2004 the Marlins are handing Miguel an even a more important role that is vital to their success. Will he rise to the challenge again?

Miguel Cabrera
Vital Stats:
DOB: April 17, 1983
Birth Place:Maracay, Venezuela
Height: 6’2 Weight: 218
Bats: Right Throws: Right

2003 Recap:
2003 was quite a year for Miguel Cabrera. He started the year as the starting 3B for the Double A Carolina Mudcats. Miguel was considered the Marlins top overall prospect but because he was only 20 years old, and in his first year in Double A, he was considered still a year or two away from making his way to the major leagues. In the first two months of the season at Carolina, Cabrera was showing exactly why he was considered one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball hitting .365 with 10 homeruns and 59 RBI in 266 at bats.

Fate however put its hand in Miguel’s season when the poor play of Marlins LF Todd Hollandsworth led the Marlins front office to decide to bring Cabrera up and see if he could perform at the major league level. So on June 20th Miguel Cabrera took his place in the Marlins lineup as the starting left fielder.

In his first game Miguel made a resounding announcement that not only was he now in the lineup, but he was ready to make an impact when in the bottom of the 10th with the score tied 1-1 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Cabrera hit a monstrous two run homerun to the deepest part of the field in straight away center to win the game 3-1.

Over the rest of the season Cabrera would have his ups and downs but he showed amazing maturity for a 20 year old by always pulling himself out of his slumps and always handling his successes with a calm but confident humility.

Like so many members of his team, Cabrera saved his best performances for the post-season. He set a rookie post-season record with 4 homeruns and 12 RBIs. In one of the most impressive displays of both Miguel’s maturity and power, in Game 4 of the World Series facing future Hall of Famer and one of the all-time legendary intimidators pitcher Roger Clemens. Miguel stood firm after being brushed back with some chin music from Clemens to hit a homerun to right field.

This single performance was impressive on many levels; first Cabrera had the courage to stand in against the legendary pitcher and not be intimidated by his brush back pitch in the pressure filled World Series. Second, he had the maturity to understand the situation and realize after a brush back pitch that Clemens would more than likely want to use the opposite side of the plate to catch Cabrera off balance. Miguel anticipated that and took the outside pitch Clemens gave him and took the ball to the opposite field. Finally, he has the natural power to hit the ball over the fence in one of the deepest right fields in the major leagues.

For all these reasons that were exemplified in that one at bat is why Miguel Cabrera is considered one of the most promising young players in baseball today.

An interesting side note is that the World Series Championship was one of three titles that Miguel contributed to in 2003. Cabrera also received a ring for the Carolina Mudcat’s Southern League Title and in the off-season he led the Aragua Tigers to the championship in his native country’s Venezuelan National League.

2003 Statistics:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2003

Florida

.268

314

39

12

62

21

3

0

25

84



Player Analysis

Batting:
Cabrera has that special power that just cannot be taught. As Mike Lowell said about Cabrera when he hits the ball, “The ball just sounds different coming off his bat.” He carries power to all fields and has the discipline to go with the pitch and not try to do too much with every swing.

Miguel’s performance against left-handed pitching in 2003 was outstanding batting .364 against them. Righties had more success against him holding him to only a .247 average. Cabrera has equal success against fastballs coming from either lefties or righties but right handers are able to have more success against him if they throw him breaking balls particularly ones that are sweeping low and away.

Early in the season Cabrera was overly pull conscious but quickly learned that he will be more dangerous if he uses the opposite field and because of his tremendous power he will not compromise his power stats by doing so. This maturity and discipline helped work him through his rookie slumps and will hopefully keep him from prolonged slumps as he continued his development on the job in 2004.

Base Running and Speed:
Miguel is only an average runner but he does have a lot of natural athletic ability which could lead him to becoming a 10 steal a year threat as he better learns the nuances of pitchers moves and base stealing techniques

Defense:
Because the Marlins re-signed 3B Mike Lowell to multi-year deal, it appears that the Marlins will use Cabrera as a corner OF in 2004 and not at 3B where Miguel says he is most comfortable. Most likely, he will spend the majority of his time in RF while occasionally playing LF when necessary.

Cabrera was forced into LF in 2003 even though he only played 3 games there in the minors and was moved to RF for the post-season. Defensively, he played very well considering his lack of experience in those positions.

When he started out in the Marlins organization he was a short stop but was eventually moved to third. He does however have the athletic ability and agility to field those infield positions. The natural instinct to react to the ball off the bat translated well for his success in the OF. His throwing arm is above-average for an OF and is considered extremely accurate. The Marlins have no concerns that Miguel’s move to RF will affect either his hitting or their overall team defense.

Overall:
Because of his physical attributes and early career success, many baseball people compare Cabrera to the St. Louis Cardinals All-Star Albert Pujols. While that is a lofty comparison, what Cabrera has shown in his short time in the majors has done little to dissuade that projection, nor has that comparison seemed to affect his on the field production.

Miguel Cabrera seems to be mature beyond his years, both as a player on the field and a man off of it. He has handled all of the pressure that has been put on him with both confidence and humility and has performed well beyond anyone’s expectations.

In 2004, the Marlins are putting even more pressure on Cabrera to succeed by placing him in the clean-up spot in the order. While Cabrera has lived up to every demand placed on him, he is still only a 21 year old with around 400 major league at bats worth of experience. The Marlins will be expecting significant power production from Cabrera this year and will not be able to withstand long droughts. There is no reason to believe that he will not once again withstand the pressure and rise to expectations. But it still is possible that the Marlins may be asking for too much too soon from their young prodigy.

2004 Projections:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2004

Florida

.270

545

80

24

91

35

3

5

56

130





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