As we head into the second half of the Major League Baseball season, two of the biggest stories to date have been the magical performances of Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. However, the two sluggers have taken very different paths to their current greatness.
|Photo by: Genevieve Ross, Paul Sancya|
The Venezuelan strikes fear into the hearts of all pitchers not only because of his power, but also because of his plate coverage and discipline. He has no problem whatsoever hitting a pitch that is low and away to right field, and after striking out a lot early in his career, he has not struck out 100 times in a season since 2009.
Cabrera has also overcome personal issues throughout the course of his career. Despite his consistency on the field, he has struggled with alcohol problems off of it. He was involved in multiple incidents between 2009 and 2011, and it got to the point where the Tigers were rumored to be shopping him during the 2011 offseason after an arrest in February of that same year. Fortunately, after checking into rehab, "Miggy" seems to have put his problems behind him, and has been even more dominant over the last two seasons.
The journey of Chris Davis from a baseball standpoint has been much tougher, as he was considered by many scouts for several years to be a classic 4-A player; a guy who was too good for Triple-A, but wasn't good enough to be a consistent contributor at the major league level. He was also seen as a slugger who tried to pull every pitch he saw, and if he didn't, he was sure to strikeout. Davis hit 38 homers in his first two seasons, but struck out a ridiculous 238 times in 193 games.
He bounced back and forth from the minors to the majors throughout 2010 and 2011, but was finally given the chance to be an everyday starter last year, and needless to say, he didn't disappoint. Davis led Baltimore with 33 home runs, helping the O's to 93 wins and their best season since 1997, losing to the Yankees in the ALDS.
"Crush" has exploded on the scene in 2013, leading the majors in home runs, slugging percentage and total bases. Despite a minor slump over the past few weeks that saw him hit several long balls but not much else, his batting average still sits at .310. Unlike Cabrera, Davis may not be the most disciplined hitter on the planet, but that's what makes him so much fun to watch.
The Texan has struck out 269 times over the last year and a half, but because of his power and plate coverage, he covers his mistakes much better than he did earlier on in his career. If his current .717 slugging percentage holds up, it will be the highest number in the bigs in a decade. Based on what we've seen in Davis' career, we should expect a bit of regression in the second half of the season, but regardless, what he's done over the last year+ has been absolutely incredible.
Both players are having tremendous seasons. Cabrera as the polished hitter who is a future Hall of Famer, and Davis as the underdog story who is hitting home runs at a torrid pace. Either way, fans have been treated to a pair of offensive performances that have not been seen in some time.