Miguel Cabrera vs. Evan Longoria

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Prior to the season, this would have seen like a stupid comparison, but with the way things have played out it is a legitimate question.  Who would you rather have on your team the rest of the way, Miguel Cabrera or Evan Longoria?

I know, it’s amazing, considering Cabrera was a player that people thought would win the MVP award this season while Longoria was banished to Triple A.  Who would have thought that through the first week of August (all stats given are through Monday), the two would have stats that are extremely similar.  Let’s take a look at what each has done in the major leagues:

  • Cabrera: 420 AB, .298, 20 HR, 82 RBI, 53 R, 1 SB
  • Longoria: 370 AB, .276, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 53 R, 7 SB

Cabrera has the advantage in average, but the rest of the numbers are pretty close, especially when you consider the fact that Cabrera has registered an additional 50 at bats.  His problem was that he just didn’t get out of the gate like an MVP hopeful.

He hit .274 in April with just 4 HR and 18 RBI.  Throw in a .283 May with 3 HR and 12 RBI, and he had hit just 7 HR with 30 RBI over the first 2 months of the season.  This is a player who had at least 112 RBI from 2004-2007 with the Marlins and has a career average of .311.  Obviously, after giving up a ton of talent to get him in the off season (along with Dontrelle Willis), it was not the type of start that Tiger fans wanted to see.

Things have picked up since then, especially after the All-Star Break.  He’s hitting .361 with 4 HR and 25 RBI since the break, much more along the lines of what you’d like to see from him. 

I would expect his batting average to continue to increase, as right now his BABIP is sitting at .332.  That’s a good number, but it is significantly lower then the number he has posted for the past 3 years:

  • 2005: .363
  • 2006: .382
  • 2007: .361

The power should continue to surge as well.  Right now, he’s hit a homer every 21 AB this season.  Last season, he homered once every 17.3 AB.  For his entire career, he’s hit a HR every 19.7 AB.  Based on those numbers, I would expect him to continue to improve his HR rate and probably finish the year in the 32-35 HR range, right around where’s been in the past.  From 2004-2007, he hit 33, 33, 26 and 34 HR respectively.

The RBI and R could improve as well, if not at least stay consistent, as the rest of the line-up starts to hit.  The Tigers have struggled throughout the season, but they have too much talent in that line-up to stay down.  Sooner or later, things are going to click, and he’s likely to be right in the middle of it.

As for Longoria, he made his major league debut on April 12, so he missed about 2 weeks of action.  He certainly has lived up to the billing as one of the top young talents in the game since then.

Is he going to be a .300 hitter this season?  I wouldn’t expect him to, though he did hit .300 in both June and July, certainly a good sign.  It’s a .234 May that has significantly hampered his number.  Last year at Double A, he hit .307 in 381 AB, so the talent is there to do it.

Still, he just is not the same type of hitter that Cabrera is, and in his rookie season, I don’t see him being able to match Cabrera at the plate.  Maybe at some point he can get there, but for the rest of the way this season, I’d give the edge to Cabrera. 

The power has certainly been there, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.  He has been every bit the power hitter that Cabrera has been, homering once every 17.6 AB.  At Double A last season, he hit a HR once every 18.1 AB.  So, even if he slows down a little bit, this appears to be the type of power guy he is.

Even if he falls back to a HR every 18 AB, he should hit 30 on the season.  That would put him a little bit behind Cabrera, but not by much at all.  The fact that he’s been the more prolific hitter thus far this season has to be taken into account, so I’m going to give them a push here.  I certainly could see them matching HR from here on out.

Longoria offers more speed, so there really isn’t much of a debate there.  He’s going to steal more bases and, with that extra speed, may score more runs.  Neither has been extremely impressive in the runs scored department, so we might as well just call that a push.  They are dead even right now and there’s no clear-cut favorite to pick up significantly more.

Like I said earlier, Cabrera is a proven run producer playing in a line-up that is due to catch fire.  For as good as Longoria has been this season, I just don’t see him being able to match the type of production Cabrera has.

Granted, Longoria bats in a prime spot in the order with guys like Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton looking to set the table for him.  Still, Cabrera is Cabrera, and I have to give him the edge.

Obviously, you can tell that I would take Cabrera over Longoria from this point forward, but if I called it a keeper league, things would change dramatically.  While Cabrera is going to be drafted ahead of Longoria on draft day next season, Longoria has every opportunity to emerge as one of the top 3 or 4 players at the position, much like Ryan Braun has (I know, he’s now playing the OF).

Longoria is one of those rare star youngsters, and one that you should definitely target next season if possible.  So, what does everyone else think?  Who would you prefer?

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