By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
The now primary designated hitter is a two-time AL MVP, 12-time All-Star, four-time batting title champion, and won the Triple Crown in 2012 with the Detroit Tigers. Before Cabrera, Carl Yastrzemski was the last win the Triple Crown in 1967.
Along with his major league accolades, Cabrera has always shown up to play for his home country, Venezuela. Cabrera is on a short list of six players who represented their country in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, who will also compete in 2023. Jair Jurrjens, Oliver Perez, Shairon Martis, Adam Loewen, and Paolo Espino round out the list.
Miguel Cabrera always brings a cheerful personality, interacting with the crowd often and sometimes swipes some popcorn from the fans near first base. He has also not hesitated to bring the fire. Cabrera and former New York Yankees catcher Austin Romine threw punches at one another back in 2017, starting a benches clearing brawl. Getting into fights is not his forte, but his brawl with Romine showed his opponents he has some competitive fire. It is his silly, yet competitive nature that team Venezuela will look towards to lead them deep in the tournament, along with his hall of fame bat.
On the field, Cabrera has been nothing short of amazing at the World Baseball Classic. He is tied for second with Frederich Cepeda in career WBC home runs with six, behind Alfredo Despaigne of Cuba, who has hit seven. He has homered at least once in each of the four World Baseball Classic tournaments he has played in. As his power numbers have continued to follow a downward trend, the 39-year-old will be looked upon to put the ball into play and drive runners in from scoring position. Cabrera hit just five home runs in 433 plate appearances during the 2022 season.
More times than not, someone should be in scoring position for team Venezuela, with a lineup that features Jose Altuve and 2022 AL batting champion Luis Arraez. Cabrera, in all likelihood, will be hitting behind both Altuve and Arraez in the lineup, and will turn his focus to contact over power.
It will not be an easy task for Venezuela to make it out of the first-round of play. The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Israel, and Nicaragua make up pool D. The toughest matchups should come from the D.R. and Puerto Rico. Both squads have powerhouse lineups and experienced starting pitching depth.
Miguel Cabrera and Venezuela are hoping to bring home the country’s first World Baseball Classic championship, in what will be his fifth and likely last appearance in the tournament. Cabrera announced in November that he plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2023 MLB season. If he sticks to those plans, the MLB will say goodbye to perhaps the best baseball player in history from Venezuela.
Venezuela will play their first game of the World Baseball Classic on March 11 at 7 p.m. EST against the Dominican Republic.