The most surprising aspect of Miguel Cabrera's new extension, which kicks in after the current contract expires in two years, when he'll be 33, isn't that it continues to pay into his baseball dotage (age 41 season) or that it commits the Tigers to shelling out $31 million-a-year until 2024 or that it guarantees his grandchildren another $290 million or that the Detroit pulled the trigger on it a year-and-a-half before they had to.
The most surprising aspect of this story is that a guy who's hit 30%-87% better than league average every year since 2004, a guy who's topped .300 eight times, a guy with 365 home runs and 1260 RBI, who's earned eight All-Star selections and received MVP votes for 11 seasons . . . is just 31 years old. How could this be?
Miguel Cabrera entered the Major Leagues at age 20 in 2003 and outpaced league average with his bat. A fixture at third by season's end, he helped the Marlins win the World Series. It seems like a generation ago, back when Ice Cube was a rapper, Blockbuster video was the hot new thing and Todd Zeile manned the hot corner for the Montreal Expos.
By the following season Cabrera was authoring a line of .294/.366/.512 with 33 home runs. And then he proceeded to improve. Dramatically.
Since 2004 -- that's 10 years ago -- Miguel Cabrera has been one of the five best hitters in the world. In his last three seasons, Cabrera has averaged .340/.427/.609 with 77 extra base hits (38 doubles, 37 homers) in a park not particularly accommodating to offense. That's 77% above league average, a number that's Gehrigian. Or if you prefer aMaysing (except better.)
At age 31, he's two peak seasons from the Hall of Fame, three if he experiences normal decline. And then he'll have eight more years, at $31 million-a-year guaranteed, to gild that Hall of Fame lily.
We're numb to the millions. But Miguel Cabrera's only 31 years old? That's crazy talk.