It didn't take Miguel Cabrera long to show his All-Star form.
The Marlins' slugger, an All-Star selection in each of his first three full seasons with the club, got off to a hot start in 2007's first week, earning the Bank of America National League Player of the Week Award for April 2-8.
Cabrera led the NL in hitting with a .500 batting average and a slugging percentage of .955. The 23-year old third baseman had a .607 on-base percentage, best in the NL, and tied for the league highs with four doubles, 11 hits, and 21 total bases. He was tied for second in the NL with two home runs.
His approach at the plate seems simple enough: Cabrera stresses hitting to all fields. He says it to his teammates, he says it to himself.
"That's what we talk about. We've got to take what the pitchers are throwing us," Cabrera said recently. "If they are pitching you outside, you have to look the other way. If they are throwing you inside, work on pulling the ball. That's what we're working on in BP, and we did all of Spring Training."
The secret to Cabrera's hitting could be his concentration. That's what Alfredo Amezaga, a close friend and teammate of Cabrera, says.
"We are close and we joke around a lot," Amezaga said. "But when game time comes, he is so focused. There is no joking around. That is what has surprised me about him. He gets really into the game when the game starts. People don't always see that."
For a young player, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said, Cabrera is about as polished a hitter as he could be.
"He was outstanding. He really was that week," Gonzalez said Monday. "I know he made some outs, but I don't remember too many. Sometimes he didn't get pitched to. He's that type of player, and I think people around the baseball world know what kind of guy this guy is."
That includes Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley.
"I hate to put big numbers on him, but if he stays healthy, there is no telling what he's going to do," Presley said.
Amezaga also marvels at the 23-year-old's potential.
"He can be the best ... maybe ever," Amezaga said.
Another impact player in the NL East is Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, who heaps a lot of praise on Cabrera.
"He's the one guy in their lineup that your pitcher is going to have to give it his all, and everybody is going to have to be on alert, because he can hit it anywhere -- hard," Howard said last weekend when the Phillies were in Florida to face the Marlins. "He's one of the bright stars in the game."