04/12/10 7:21 PM ET
Cabrera wins AL Player of the Week
Slugger had 12 hits, eight RBIs in making Tigers history
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Major League Baseball noticed, which is why Cabrera earned the first American League Player of the Week award of the 2010 season.
Cabera hit an AL-best .522 (12-for-23) over the Tigers' first six games, a stretch in which the Tigers' 5-1 record marked their best start since 2006. That included two game-changing home runs at Kansas City -- one of them a solo shot with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning to tie the game April 7, the other a two-run homer to pull Detroit ahead a day later in the eighth inning.
Not since Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann in 1923 had a Tigers player posted eight hits and seven RBIs through the first three games of a season, but that's how Cabrera left Kansas City. He came home to Detroit to see the Indians hold him in check for two games before he reached base six times in Sunday's series finale. With three hits and three walks, Cabrera became the first Tigers player to reach base safely six times in a nine-inning game since Carlos Pena in 2004.
"The means the work you do in Spring Training, it was something good that you were doing," Cabrera said Monday. "Because when the season starts, you were ready."
Essentially, he has carried over the hitting tear he had when the Tigers left Spring Training. His feats in the final week of camp included two tape-measure homers against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla.
He hit those homers so far that his teammates joked that he might've hit his own car in the parking lot. He didn't have that impact distance-wise in Kansas City, but he had that kind of impact on the games.
"I've said all along that when he masters not giving at-bats away, there's no telling what he can do," manager Jim Leyland said last Thursday.
Fittingly, that has been one of Cabrera's points going into the season.
"You don't want to throw away at-bats," Cabrera said. "You don't want to throw away games. You want to be right on track and swinging the bat really well. You have to focus every at-bat. That's what I hope I can continue."
If Cabrera wanted a way to put last year's end-of-season troubles behind him, that was it. He received a strong ovation from fans when he was introduced at the Tigers' home opener last Friday, and the cheers have continued.
If he can keep up this start, he'll be hard to ignore on a national spotlight.
Cabrera becomes the first member of the Tigers to win Player of the Week honors since 2008. Cabrera won the last of those, too, on July 21 of that year. Detroit's national honors last season were both monthly -- Justin Verlander, as the Pitcher of the Month, and Rick Porcello as the Rookie of the Month. Both came in May.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.