Miguel Cabrera is headed back to the All-Star Game -- the 12th of his Hall of Fame career.
Major League Baseball announced Friday that Cabrera has been chosen by commissioner Rob Manfred as the American League's legacy selection, via a clause in the new CBA by which the commissioner names one legend to each squad "in recognition of each player’s career achievements.” Albert Pujols, Cabrera's longtime friend, is the National League selection.
Pujols was an obvious choice. The 42-year-old is in the final season of his own Hall of Fame career. His pedestrian numbers this year are beside the point.
Cabrera's case is a little more interesting. This is no victory lap for Miggy; he intends to play through next season. Moreover, you could argue he's already an All-Star on the merit of hitting .308 at age 39. That's good for 8th in the AL, smack-dab between Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.
“I think he should be an All-Star in his own right,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said this week.
Cabrera obviously doesn't have the power numbers he used to. That will happen when you're basically playing on one knee. But he has re-invented himself to remain a productive MLB hitter in the 20th season of his career: he's first in the majors with a .455 average with two outs and runners in scoring position. There's certainly something to be said for that.
"He just understands more and more who he is right now, in his career, in his life and in his role on this team," Hinch said after Cabrera went 6-13 with 6 RBI in a four-game sweep of Cleveland this week. "There's not a player that walks up to bat that doesn't want to do damage and hit the ball out of the ballpark, but that's not necessarily what the game always calls for. And Miggy is one of the smartest players you'll ever be around, regardless of age and experience. His ability to think the game is impressive at a time where it would be really easy for him to sell out and try to be the hero a different way."
It's fitting that Cabrera heads back to the All-Star Game, his first since 2016, hitting .308. That's exactly what he hit over the first two All-Star seasons of his career. It's slightly more impressive at age 39: Cabrera is the only big leaguer age 35 or older hitting .300 this season.
The rest of the All-Stars -- and all of the fans -- at Dodger Stadium July 17 will be better for his presence.
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