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: Oct 16, 2011
Posted on: January 21, 2012 5:25 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

I'm a Redsox fan and I love Gonzalez, but Cabrera is just a little better. 2 years ago I though he would drink himself out of a HOF career, but now that he's "grown up" he is the man.

Since: Nov 10, 2008
Posted on: January 21, 2012 5:03 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

I agree whole heartingly!   I'm root for the Marlins in the NL so Miguel will always have a soft spot with me, but I'll take A Gone every time for his defense and the type of club house guy he is.  You have to give him a pass in the first year of adjusting to a new league when looking at his home run numbers last year.  All his other batting stats were right there.  He may match Cabrera's offensive numbers this year.

Since: May 11, 2009
Posted on: January 21, 2012 5:01 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Miggy is unbelievable. I would take him over any other first baseman in the entire league right now and not just because I am a Tiger fan. Look at his numbers...they speak for themselves. It sucks VMart got injured because Miggy could have had a chance to have a MONSTER year...for him. He will still have a monster year...but it will probably just another .320 average 35 HR 100+ RBI season. Those are ordinary for him.

Since: Jul 16, 2007
Posted on: January 21, 2012 4:44 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Just so you do not talk about this subject around someone who knows baseball...  Adrian never played in Milwaukee, he played in Petco park for San Diego.  No protection and the biggest ballpark and hit 300 / 30 / 100 every year.   Good argument, just not facutal... 

Since: Mar 4, 2009
Posted on: January 21, 2012 4:00 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Cabrera's alcoholism threatens his future. He would be a considerable risk, if you're thinking of offering him a long-term contract.

Since: Sep 5, 2011
Posted on: January 21, 2012 3:18 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Wow this is a tough choice because i like them both. But if i had to pick one it would be Cabby just because he has been little more consistance for so many years now. Wish i could have both of them and have one DH and one play first then rotate each week that would be awesome, but Cabby still gets my vote if i have to pick one, espically because i watch him play so much, if i saw Gonz play more i might have a different opinion but since i dont get to see Gonzo much i have to go with stat lines for my answer and Cabby gets my vote still. Also Gonzo has always had protection behind him in the batting order in Mil & boston so they had to pitch to him instead of walking him, 2011 was the first time Cabby really had a good batter behind him protecting him in the line-up with V-mart. So my vote goes to Cabby but Gonzo is inches away though. Both are great players though and they are not pre-modanas either.

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 21, 2012 3:11 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

You can't call this the "Golden Age" of first baseman when another era had Gerhrig, Foxx, et al. all playing together.  Sports writers create such an ignorance of the past by overhyping the abilities of current players or players who played during their own lifetime. 

Since: Jan 1, 2009
Posted on: January 21, 2012 3:03 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

what are you 12.. this is the stupidest article ive ever seen.. i hope he didnt get paid to write this.. i got a better question "who cares" niether are free agents so their not going anywhere.. since ive already deemed it nessecary to respond, cabrera all the way..

Since: Jun 10, 2010
Posted on: January 21, 2012 1:28 pm

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Yup - Cabrera for me, he's been more consistent for a longer period of time, and has had Triple Crown-esque numbers since 2003. A model of consistency! But Gonzalez isn't far behind him...

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