Detroit Tigers Position Grades: 1B/DH — Miguel Cabrera is Elite but Injury Concerns are Real

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Sep 5, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) runs off the field against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A. 2015: .334/.438/.525 (162 wRC+). 1B. Detroit Tigers. MIGUEL CABRERA

Miguel Cabrera is still one of the very best hitters in all of baseball on a rate basis — and he’s going to win his fourth batting average title in five years — but injury concerns are very real for him. He missed more than a month this season with a calf injury marking the third consecutive season he’s been hampered by a health concern in the second half of the year.

In 2013 he limped through the end of the regular season and the postseason before having offseason surgery to repair a torn groin muscle. In 2014 he played through significant pain in the playoffs and had subsequently had two screws inserted into his foot to help repair a stress fracture. He was able to return from the calf injury this season, but he hasn’t quite been the player he was in the first half (though still pretty darn good).

None of these injuries have prevented him from having tremendously productive seasons, but Cabrera is now an aging player with a big frame so it’s not surprising to see his body begin to break down. The 2016 season will see the start of his new eight-year contract, so the Tigers are going to have to find a way to keep him rested in hopes of avoiding these kinds of injuries.

He’s still a championship caliber middle-of-the-order hitter, but the Tigers need him to be healthy for stretch runs (and playoff runs) if they have hopes of achieving that ultimate goal.

Next: Victor Martinez