All of a sudden, Miguel Cabrera is 34 years old. You would never know it by his statistical production as 2016 was another tremendous year at the plate. He continues to be the best slugger in the game who rarely gets himself out. After playing just 119 games in 2015 due to ankle and calf injuries, Cabrera stayed relatively healthy last season. He also reversed several minor worrisome trends at the plate as his isolated power bounced back to career norms (to .247 from .196 in 2015) and he hit 38 home runs to end a three-year decline in homers. While he's entering his mid-30s, his injury track record is strong, having played fewer than 150 games just once in his career. He's so good at what he does he is almost boring at this point, but spending a first rounder on him is money in the bank.
Cabrera acknowledged that his right ankle bothered him for much of the 2016 stretch run, but he feels healthy now, MLB.com reports. Cabrera did not have a stint on the disabled list or an offseason surgery in 2016-the first time he's avoided both since 2012. The star slugger is turning 34 in April, but after posting 38 home runs, 108 RBIs and a .956 OPS last season, there's no reason to think that Cabrera is slowing down. He's still an elite fantasy option.
Cabrera will once again represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, as he's done in all three previous editions of the tournament. Cabrera is Venezuela's leader, and his five career World Baseball Classic home runs are tied for the second most all-time in the tournament. It probably goes without saying, but Cabrera will be expected to carry a big load offensively for Venezuela.
Cabrera (knee) remains in the lineup Thursday, hitting third and manning first base against the Indians. He hit a home run and narrowly missed hitting a second big fly in Wednesday's rain-shortened game, and while manager Brad Ausmus admitted after the game that Cabrera is hobbled by a knee issue, it seems unlikely he will miss time as long as the Tigers stay in the postseason hunt. They enter Thursday one game back of the Orioles in the hunt for the second wild card spot in the American League.
Cabrera went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer in Wednesday's game against Cleveland. Cabrera thought his first-inning drive was gone, only to watch it hit off the wall. His fifth-inning drive, on the other hand, had little doubt, a classic Cabrera opposite-field swing toward the right-field corner. The slugger's 36th home run of the season was his 306th as a Tiger, tying him with Hank Greenberg for third in franchise history. It wound up being a game-winning deep fly as the game would end after five innings due to rain. Cabrera is hitting .400 with 14 RBI and three home runs over his last 11 games to help the Tigers stay in the playoff hunt.
Manager Brad Ausmus indicated that Cabrera is hobbled by a "contusion" and has "got some fluid in his knee, so it's going to be sore sometimes," Matthew B. Mowery of the Oakland Press reports. Cabrera's injury doesn't appear to be anything serious and he played the entire game (rain shortened it to five innings). Given the Tigers' current battle for a playoff spot, it would likely require a lot for the veteran slugger to miss a contest. Regardless, it may be something worth monitoring ahead of Thursday's series finale against the Indians.