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Miguel Cabrera a concern as Detroit Tigers face Oakland Athletics

American League hitter Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit

American League hitter Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers reacts after striking out during the first inning of the MLB All-Star Game. (July 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

As the Tigers face the Athletics in Game 3 of a tied American League Division Series, the most explosive performer on either team has so far been a dud.

It’s not necessarily Miguel Cabrera’s fault that he’s 2-for-8 – both singles – through the first two games. An abdominal strain has robbed him of his gargantuan power. But it’s particularly disconcerting for a Tigers team that probably needs Cabrera to be something approximating his MVP self if they’re to win a World Series – never mind get past the A’s.

But it’s not as if the Tigers didn’t see this decline coming. Yes, Cabrera hit .284 with a .396 on-base percentage during his final 25 games, from Aug. 27 on. But he had just a .333 slugging percentage during that 81 at-bat span, only managing two extra-base hits, a double and a home run. Cabrera averaged an extra-base hit once every 10.8 at-bats coming into Aug. 27. From that point on, including the playoffs, he’s averaging better than a single just once every 44.5 at-bats.

He had no extra-base hits in his final 35 at-bats of the regular season, and combined with his eight playoff at-bats, Cabrera has been limited to being a singles hitter for 11 consecutive games, equaling the stretch of futility that hit him from Aug. 27 to Sept. 11. Prior to those sequences, Cabrera hadn’t been held without an extra-base hit for more than seven games in a row this season.

In eight prior playoff series, Cabrera has always had at least one extra-base hit. He’s homered in six of those eight, slamming 10 total playoff home runs. Cabrera has also walked at least once in every series.

Which makes his 2-for-8 line – with no walks and no extra-bases – so concerning this October.

Even if it wasn’t entirely unpredictable.

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