Cabrera on second-half surge at plate
Infielder's offensive prowess lands Aaron Award nomination
CLEVELAND -- Miguel Cabrera has rebounded to enjoy the kind of season few other first-year Tigers have produced. As a result, he's up for an honor no Tiger has won.
Not bad for someone who went through an adjustment period in April after coming over to the American League in the offseason.
Much was expected when Cabrera came to Detroit in the Tigers' blockbuster deal with the Marlins last December, and those expectations seemed to follow him into the season. Part of it, however, was the process of learning a new league of pitchers he largely hadn't seen before. Another factor could have been the climate difference, adjusting from five seasons in the warm climates of Florida to the colder Midwestern weather of Detroit.
"I fully expected it to take him some time," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That did not surprise me at all."
Cabrera's numbers early were fine, though not great, with a .270 average, five home runs and 19 RBIs in March and April. He went through May and June in a similar pace. The difference has largely been since the season's midway point.
Cabrera earned AL Player of the Month honors in July by batting .330 (35-for-106) with eight home runs and 31 RBIs, setting him on a second-half surge that has continued down the season's home stretch. He batted .379 (22-for-58) through the first 16 games of September while driving in 21 runs.
Cabrera leads all big league hitters in home runs and RBIs since the break. It was enough for him to set a new personal best in RBIs and tie his best in home runs with a week and a half left in the season. He ranks among the AL's top three in both categories.
"He's got more confidence because he knows the pitchers better," Leyland said. "He feels more comfortable in his new home and the surroundings. I think that has a lot to do with it."
The Aaron Award honor is awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in each league, with each club having a nominee. Fans can vote from Monday until Sunday, Oct. 12 to select the winner in each league. The winners will be announced prior to Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday, Oct. 26.
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez beat out Tigers right fielder and AL batting champ Magglio Ordonez for last year's AL honor, while Milwaukee's Prince Fielder earned the NL award. Originally introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, the Hank Aaron Award was the first major award to be introduced in 30 years.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.