Cabrera’s season ends with a whimper

As so many things do, it ended not with a bang but a whimper.

One of the most remarkable, startling seasons in our lifetime ended Wednesday morning with a doctor’s gaze into a bit of magnetic imagery. And a sigh.

The MRI revealed that Miguel Cabrera’s ankle was sprained more than initially thought and his very slim chance of returning to play in any of the remaining games this season was downgraded to no chance.

A recovery from what’s now considered the “dreaded high ankle sprain” requires more than the handful of days left this baseball season and we can now begin to put his year in some perspective.

The true irony is that this is a guy who was iron-y. Of the Tigers 156 games played, Cabrera played in 150 after playing 160 in each of the last two seasons.  

He was their most regular regular.

And he … just … kept … hitting.

Even when he was being pitched around, Cabrera found someway to drive in runs. An American League high 126 when he was hurt on Monday evening, a handful more than Alex Rodriguez and Jose Bautista. Cabrera will watch them creep closer to his number while he hopes to become the first Tiger to win an RBI title since Cecil Fielder strung together three of them in the early 90’s. Cabrera’s 38 home runs and .328 batting average are each among the top three in the league.

What will be agony for him is just a sense of helplessness concerning the Most Valuable Player award. A player wears his numbers, thus Cabrera’s wardrobe is stylish. Yet, for some reason, those who vote for the MVP have this hangup that the numbers are somehow less attractive if the player’s team isn’t in the playoffs.

How can that be?  If anything, the opposite should be true. It is easier for a superb hitter to hit within a loaded lineup.

But as we’ve learned well from the likes of the Real Housewives of … insert city here …  there’s not always a science attached to the perception of others. The judgments about his season on the team that employs him have already been made. Cabrera can’t inflate his numbers anymore and can’t really help his cause anymore, and it likely wouldn’t have mattered if he could.  

Those who watched him play and rake base hits all season are now left in the afterglow of a truly amazing summer of baseball. It shouldn’t be tarnished by whether or not those who never played the game somehow deemed someone else more valuable.

But it would be a dirty rotten shame.

Sept. 29, 2010