Blog Entry

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Posted on: January 21, 2012 1:15 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 10:55 am

By C. Trent Rosecrans

You could argue we're living in the golden age of first basemen. Of the last 12 MVPs, five have gone to first baseman, and four different ones (Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau), to boot. And that list doesn't even include Prince Fielder or either of the two first basemen we're looking at today -- Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Boston's Adrian Gonzalez.

Both slugging first basemen are younger than 30 (at least until May, when Gonzalez hits the big 3-0) and both rose to the majors by the time they were 22, although Gonzalez didn't become a star until he was traded to San Diego in 2006, while Cabrera came up as a third baseman and outfielder and got MVP votes as a 20-year-old rookie. Now, though, both are among the game's best and expected to pick up an MVP any time now.

The case for Cabrera

This isn't too tough to make -- Cabrera won the American League batting title with a .344 average and also had the league's best on-base percentage (.448) for the second consecutive season. He also hit 30 homers and led the majors with 48 doubles. He has a career OPS+ of 149 and had a 181 OPS+ last season, better even than his league-leading 178 in 2010. Here's a guy who is 33 homers from 300 and has a lifetime slash line of .317/.395/.555. The guy's bat is just special.

The case for Gonzalez

Would You Rather Have
A lot was expected of Gonzalez in his first season in Boston and it says something about his ability if his .338/.410/.548 season in his first year in a new league and in the toughest division in baseball was seen as something of a disappointment (but short of an MVP and World Series MVP, nothing was going to reach the lofty expectations of Red Sox fans coming into 2011). Gonzalez's 27 homers was his lowest total since 2006, his first full season in the big leagues, but he still led baseball with 213 hits and his 45 doubles ranked sixth in the league.

Not only is Gonzalez one of the best offensive players in the game, he's won four consecutive Gold Gloves, winning the award in both leagues.

As for the contract status, both players are more than fairly compensated, with Cabrera due to make $86 million over the next four seasons and Gonzalez signed through the 2018 season for a cool $154 million.

Our call

While Gonzalez is a very good player, Cabrera has the chance to be an all-time great. Gonzalez has better defense, but we're talking first base here, not shortstop. There would be some worry about Cabrera's off-the-field problems, but he's bounced back from those and he's never played less than 150 games since becoming a regular as a 21-year-old in 2004. He's the choice, no matter if he's a first baseman or a DH, because his bat is just that good.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Cabrera or Gonzalez on your favorite team?

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Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: January 21, 2012 10:00 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

I would take Miguel Cabrera. He has 2 rings and 3 World Series trips. He is an elite hitter. Gonzo is good, but he is not a championship caliber first baseman or an elite hitter in the AL, just the NL.

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: January 21, 2012 9:35 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Gonzalez is already on my favorite team, but to play the game, I'd still take Gonzo. He isn't an alcoholic.

Since: Jul 22, 2011
Posted on: January 21, 2012 9:22 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Tough call. Gonzalez is great but Miggy is a little better. Will go to the Hall for sure if he keeps it up. Miggy hands down, but Gonzalez is definitely no slouch.

Since: Oct 31, 2007
Posted on: January 21, 2012 9:14 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

I do have Cabrera on my favorite team!!

Since: Feb 15, 2011
Posted on: January 21, 2012 8:58 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Red Sox fans certainly weren't expecting a guaranteed World Series win out of Gonzalez - I don't know where that comes from, other than the Red Sox fans are crazy media hype. Red Sox fans hoped for a lot, and got it.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 21, 2012 8:49 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

I wish I could wait a year to see if Gonzalez can do it again. If he can I would pick him. Cabrera is a hitting machine, well heck they both are. I would pick Cabrera but ask me this question again at this time next year.

Since: Aug 6, 2010
Posted on: January 21, 2012 8:32 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

LOL not a disappointment for anybody. 27 Hrs .338 Avg. 117 RBI and 108 Runs. Ridiculously good stats for a new team.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: January 21, 2012 7:27 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Between the two of them, Cabrera is the guy who could hit for the triple crown next year (he already has HR, RBI, BA, OBP, and 2B titles just in different years) and it would surprise nobody. He is much more consistent. Looking at their career offensive splits, they aren't really close (career OPS difference over 60 points) and the past 2 years there is an even bigger gap in favor of Cabrera. I'm not sure the difference in defense from a 1B position begins to make up the offensive gap between them.

Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: January 21, 2012 7:11 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Both players are great, but Cabrera is arguably the best hitter in baseball right now, until Pujols bounces back this year, then he will be #2.

Since joining the Tigers, he has won a homerun title, a RBI title and a batting title.  Until they signed VMart, he had no protection behind him.  The best part about Cabrera is -- he hits the ball to all different fields, not only for average, but for power as well.  If he played in a smaller park -- he would hit 40 homeruns a year.

Also with Cabrera -- he hasn't even hit his "prime years" -- he still has another year before his supposed "prime years".  

You can't really go wrong with either though.  Cabrera is just a little better. 

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: January 21, 2012 7:05 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

As long as Miggy can stay off the bottle its a no-brainer.

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