Miguel Cabrera stands 6-4 and weighs 240. He turned 33 in April. He hasn’t stolen a base all season. The past two seasons, he tried stealing four times. He was successful twice. His salary this season is $28 million. He played in the major leagues for the first time in 2003 at age 20 for the Florida Marlins.
Byron Buxton stands 6-2 and weighs 190. He turned 22 in December. He has two assists from centerfield in 80 games this season. Last season, his first in the major leagues, he had two assists in 35 games. The Twins drafted him as their first pick in the 2012 draft. His salary this season is $512,500.
John Ryan Murphy stands 5-11 and weighs 205. He turned 25 in May. He has played in 18 games as a catcher for the Twins this season. He was obtained in a trade with the New York Yankees for centerfielder Aaron Hicks after the 2015 season. Murphy appeared in 65 games for the Yankees as a catcher last season. His salary this season is $528,700.
Kennys Vargas stands 6-5 and weighs 290. He turned 26 in August. He has played first base in 21 games this season. He has 10 assists this year. The Twins signed him in 2009 as an amateur free agent. His salary this season isn’t shown by Baseball Reference, but it was listed as $517,500 last season.
Now that we’ve set the cast, here’s a small story from the Detroit Tigers 8-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins last night. It helps explain why the Tigers are in second place in the American League’s Central Division with 80 wins and 70 losses and the Twins are in last place 55 wins and 96 losses.
With the Tigers leading 1-0, Cabrera led off the fourth inning. He was behind on a 1-2 count after three foul balls when he zapped the fifth pitch into the right-center gap of the Twins outfield. Cabrera legged out a double, sliding into second base and beating the throw. He ran like it mattered.
The next Detroit batter, Cameron Maybin, drove a 1-2 pitch to centerfield. It was average depth. Buxton facing the infield caught the fly for the out. Cabrera, evidently armed with knowledge about Buxton’s arm strength, advanced to third base, sliding and beating the throw.
Twins pitcher Hector Santiago got the next Detroit batter, Justin Upton, to hit a ground ball to third base. The throw from Eduardo Escobar to Vargas at first base was on the mark. Cabrera meanwhile headed for home plate. Vargas made a good turn to relay the ball to Murphy. The throw easily beat Cabrera.
Murphy waited with ball in mitt– and then didn’t completely wait for Cabrera to reach him. Instead Murphy reached a bit with the tag up the runner’s leg. Cabrera looked to be out – but he wasn’t. Detroit appealed and the replay showed Cabrera’s foot got to the plate just before Murphy’s tag got Cabrera’s leg.
The old master’s running – not once, but on three consecutive plays — produced a run and gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Later in the game, Cabrera pulled an inside pitch and homered to left. The home run wasn’t a surprise.
Cabrera is well known for his hitting. But ihis legs got him from first to second on what might have been merely a long single, and then from second to third on a routine fly ball to center, and from third to the plate on a ground ball to the third base side of the infield. His hustle in the fourth inning showed the difference between playing hard at 33 and the Twins still learning in their early 20s.
Is he worth $28 million? He was clearly still earning his keep on Tuesday night.
Four more defeats, by the way, and the Twins will have reached 100 Ls this season. There are 10 games left on the Twins schedule, including the final five home games today through Sunday versus the Tigers and the Seattle Mariners. Tickets reportedly are available.