The KC Royals A.L. Central rival Detroit Tigers got some devastating news on Friday when superstar first baseman Miguel Cabrera suffered a Grade 3 calf strain, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. The Tigers placed Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list and expect him to miss six weeks.
Cabrera strained his calf as he attempted to run from first base on a 3-2 pitch to designated hitter Victor Martinez. He pulled up lame half-way to second base, and called for a trainer after Martinez fouled off the pitch.
Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told Mlive.com:
"“When Miggy says he can’t play, you know it’s serious,” Ausmus said after the Tigers’ 8-6 win over the Blue Jays. “Because Miggy plays through anything.”"
Losing two-time MVP Cabrera for the next month-and-a-half is a devastating blow to the Detroit Tigers offense. After something of a sub-par season in 2014, Cabrera has bounced back in 2015 to post a .350/.456/.578 slash line with 15 home runs and 54 RBI’s. Until straining his calf muscle Friday, Cabrera was again an MVP candidate.
The 32-year-old Miguel Cabrera is the centerpiece of a Detroit offense that hasn’t met the standard of years past, ranking only 7th in the American League in runs scored. With the Tigers struggling at 40-39, losing Cabrera could be the straw that broke the camel’s back for their hopes of winning their sixth straight A.L. Central crown. The division-leading Kansas City Royals hold a six game lead over the Tigers.
I must confess, when I read the news this morning, I wanted to sing, “Ding, Dong the Wicked Witch is dead!”
With a little more than half the season, such a celebration seems premature. The Tigers could rally over the next few weeks similar to how the St. Louis Cardinals have continued to win without Matt Holliday.
Even so, the Detroit Tigers will now struggle to maintain their run-scoring pace—which could mean they will have a difficult time earning a post-season bid, much less catching the KC Royals. Fangraphs.com estimates the Tigers have a 16.1 percent chance to win the division, and 30.1% percent chance to make the playoffs.
Without cleanup hitter Cabrera in the lineup for the next six weeks, those odds have to go down.
The stars are seeming to line up for the Kansas City Royals to win their first division crown in 30 years, and their first ever Central Division title.
Right now, the KC Royals need to take care of business in their remaining two games with second place Minnesota on July 4 weekend. Maybe, just maybe, the Kansas City Royals can leave their rivals in the dust before the July 31 trade deadline.
Hopefully, the KC Royals will smell blood in the water, and go on a tear.