There is a long list of great athletes who become greats in their sport but were never able to break through and win a championship. Miguel Cabrera has done it in reverse, winning a championship in his rookie season before spending the next 10 years of his career becoming one of the best players in baseball.
Cabrera was born into a baseball family in Maracay, Venezuela. His father, Miguel, was a top amateur player who never made the pros and his mother Gregoria played 14 years on the Venezuelan national softball team. As a kid Cabrera loved baseball but played other sports and was encouraged to focus on becoming an engineer by his father. Cabrera’s dad did not want his son to suffer the same heartbreak he did when he was not able to play professional baseball.
At 14 Cabrera had become a good baseball player and with the support of his father decided to peruse a professional baseball career. There were a number of teams that had interest in Cabrera including the Yankees, Twins and Dodgers but it was Cabrera’s favorite team the Florida Marlins who he untimely signed with.
After two and a half years in the miners Cabrera made his debut with the Marlins in 2003 at the age of 20. In his first game Cabrera hit a walk-off home run off Al Levine to beat Tampa Bay. Cabrera was only the third player to hit a walk-off in his debut. He continued to have success in the majors helping the Marlins make the playoffs for the second time in their history.
In the playoffs Cabrera had 18 hits and 12 RBI’s but the biggest came in game 4 when Cabrera hit a 2 run home run off of Roger Clemens to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead over the Yankees. The Marlins went on to win 4-3 in 12 innings and tied the series at two. Florida would win the next two games and took the series 4-2 winning their second Championship.
Following his championship rookie season Cabrera played four more years with the Marlins until the team started to rebuild. Cabrera was traded to the Detroit Tigers during the offseason and just before the 2008 season signed a large extension with the Tigers. Cabrera would have his most successful seasons with Detroit but he took it to another level when he was joined by Prince Fielder.
The addition of Fielder gave the Tigers a powerful right and left bat in their lineup. In his first season playing with Fielder Cabrera hit a career high in home runs and RBI’s. Cabrera had a .330 batting average as well which was enough to win baseball’s hitting Triple Crown becoming the first to win it in 45 years. Cabrera was also voted MVP for the first time after his Triple Crown season.
Cabrera will mark another career milestone next week when he starts in the All-Star game. It will be his 8th All-Star game a well deserved start as he is again on pace for MVP consideration. Cabrera will also take part in the in the Home Run Derby for the third time if his back is healthy.
At 30 Cabrera has accomplished almost everything in the game but is only entering his prime as a Baseball player. There is no telling how great Cabrera will be when he calls it a career.
For more photos of Miguel Cabrera including photos for the Venezuelan league check out Newscom.