Baseball Insider

For the sake of his rep, Miguel Cabrera should reject any thought of sitting out final game

Tigers manager Jim Leyland won't be doing Miguel Cabrera any great favor if he sits him Wednesday night to preserve the Triple Crown he's all but sure to win anyway.

Sitting Cabrera may be tempting. The Triple Crown hasn't been achieved in 45 years, when the Red Sox's Carl Yastrzemski did it.

Don't do it, Miggy. Play it out.

History reflects kindly on those who compete, not those who sit it out. Ted Williams' legend was built as much by playing that doubleheader on the final day of the 1941 season as by staying above .400, and maybe more.

Jose Reyes didn't aid his legacy by sitting it out last year. The trophy isn't worth anywhere near as much as a player's reputation.

Leyland told writers Tuesday night that he hadn't decided whether Cabrera will play the finale against the Royals. And it's OK to think about it.

But don't do it, Jim. Let him play.

"I have not made that decision yet,'' Leyland said Tuesday night. "I have not decided what I'm going to do yet.''

Leyland and Cabrera will know by gametime whether Josh Hamilton hit two home runs to pass Cabrera for the home run lead since the Rangers have a day game at Oakland, and if he does it's obvious Cabrera will play. But what if Hamilton doesn't hit two home runs, Cabrera sits, then sees Edwin Encarnacion hit three homers to pass him? Not likely, but possible.

Just play it out.

The RBI title is basically secure, and the home-run title may feel that way if Hamilton fails to homer. So it may be tempting for Cabrera to sit and basically ensure the batting title.

Don't do it, Miggy. Not worth it.

Cabrera holds a seven point lead (.331 to .324) in the batting race, and the Angels' Mike Trout could conceivably pass him if Cabrera went 0 for 4 while Trout went 4 for 4 tonight. Should that happen, Cabera's batting average would fall to .32852 while Trout's would rise to .32857.

If Cabrera sits it out and stays at .331, Trout would have to go 6 for 6 to pass him. Should Trout go 6 for 6, he'd rise to .33096, ahead of Cabrera's .33064.

A 6-for-6 game is near to impossible. But it's not worth hurting one's rep over the difference between 4-for-4 and 6-for-6. The chances of Trout going 4 for 4, as great as he is, aren't too great, either. He's had five four-hit games this year but only twice in 138 games did Trout go 4 for 4, on June 4 and June 19.

And even if Trout went 4 for 4, Cabrera would have to go 0 for 4 against Luis Mendoza and Royals relievers to fall beneath Trout. The chances of that, in turn, are minimal.

Roll the dice. Even if he plays, the odds Cabrera stays ahead of Trout in the batting race are pretty darned close to 99 percent.

Cabrera's reputation soared when he gave up first base to play the much more challenging third base so the Tigers could sign first baseman Prince Fielder (as one exec pointed out, "How many star players would do that? How many could do that?). His rep would fairly take a hit if he sat on the Triple Crown merely to avoid that one out of 100 chance Trout might pass him.

Cabrera's Tigers won't open the playoffs until Saturday, so the at-bats Wednesday night could conceivably help him. Sitting would not only look selfish, it would be selfish.

Part of Cabrera's excellent MVP case (that race is much more in doubt than the Triple Crown race) was his unselfishness in surrendering the comforts of first base. He shouldn't do anything to tarnish that great team-first rep.

Don't sit, Miggy. Do the right thing and play.

 
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