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Updated: June 23, 2010, 2:18 AM ET

Cabrera focused on what's ahead, not behind

By Aaron Boone
ESPN
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Seven years ago, Miguel Cabrera came into the big leagues and showed everyone that he was born to hit. Now, he leads the majors in RBIs (60), is second in homers (19) and ranks ninth in batting average (.327). To some, these results may seem surprising, especially after his tumultuous personal battles helped derail the Detroit Tigers in the final week of the 2009 regular season.

[+] EnlargeMiguel Cabrera
Steven King/Icon SMIMiguel Cabrera is in the top 10 in all the Triple Crown categories.

But it's clear that Cabrera spent his offseason addressing any issues he may have had so he could come into spring training ready to lead his team and frustrate pitchers everywhere. The numbers speak for themselves, but they also represent just how badly he wants to take this Detroit team to a title.

I had a chance to play with Cabrera when we were both with the Florida Marlins in 2007, and what really blew me away about him was how smart he was at the plate. We would talk over the course of a game and you could just tell that he had a great understanding of how a pitcher was going to attack a certain hitter. He knew what they were going to throw, how to make contact, and where to hit it. He also gave me a lot of advice on my own approach at the plate, often predicting where a particular pitcher would throw to me.

I started calling him "Albert Einstein" because that genius light went on when he was in the batter's box. The first time I used his nickname he had no idea who Einstein was. But after friend and teammate Alfredo Amezaga explained the moniker, Cabrera thought it was pretty funny.

Besides his superior batting knowledge, Miggy benefits from being part of a powerful offensive lineup. Sandwiched between Magglio Ordonez (.333) and rookie sensation Brennan Boesch (.337), pitchers don't have much choice when it comes to throwing to him. He has just seven intentional walks on the year, and he is making every at-bat count.

His Triple Crown chances may stop at the batting title, with guys such as Robinson Cano and Ichiro Suzuki around, but he's only 27 years old and should continue to put up big numbers, especially if he can stay healthy and sharp. With Cabrera firing on all cylinders, it should be a fun race in the AL Central -- a race that Cabrera wants to leave a positive mark on this time around.

When people question the character of some players, the players shrink into a corner and let their careers crumble. But great players will respond with even more focus. They'll find ways to get back on track and will be better players because of it. In Miguel Cabrera's case, I think he's done just that.

Aaron Boone is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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