Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera at ease as Venezuela's leading man

Other than his rookie year, when he appeared in only 87 games, Miguel Cabrera has failed to drive in at least 100 runs just once in his career. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, one of the greatest hitters of his generation, is branching out beyond baseball.

Last week, the Venezuelan slugger introduced Miggy's Bitbits from his new snack company, Miggy Foods. His Twitter account -- with over 1.1 million followers -- has served as a promotional outlet for the candies, which, according to the company's website, are "a base of rice crispies or crunchy peanuts covered in a perfectly smooth layer of milk chocolate, strawberry cheesecake or white chocolate."

Cabrera also appeared on ESPN alongside several other ballplayers from his home country, showing concern for the current political unrest in Venezuela.

"You have to send a message for all those kids out there on the streets," Cabrera said. "They must know they are not alone. They have to see we are supporting them, so they don't feel alone."

Stop here. Is this the very same ballplayer who, a few years ago, was thought to be unable to get any endorsement deals, had troubles with the law and was allergic to reporters?

What is certain is that Cabrera, now 34 years old, has matured and now seems comfortable with speaking his mind and doing things that weren't so easy for him years ago.

Cabrera has never been in an easy spot. Due to his many achievements and excelling from a very early age, he has become, reluctantly in a way, the top representative of a massive legion of Venezuelans in the majors. Although he didn't make it into the top 100 of the ESPN World Fame rankings (nor did any baseball player, for that matter), he was the top Venezuelan at No. 240.

Cabrera was born in Maracay, in Venezuela's central region, far away from major league glamour. At age 16, he was signed by the Florida Marlins. In 2003, he debuted with the Fish and had a stellar career from the very beginning (his World Series homer as a rookie against Roger Clemens comes to mind). In 2012, he became the first major leaguer since 1967 to capture baseball's Triple Crown. However, his relationship with the media had been distant, to put it mildly, even though his teammates and friends met a whole different persona.

In the meantime, he has let his bat speak, with four batting titles during a five-year span from 2011 to '15, becoming the ninth player in major league history to accomplish such a feat. He's also been an All-Star on 11 occasions and a two-time American League MVP, highlighting a cascade of achievements.

There have been issues, too. In October 2009, during the Tigers' fight for the AL Central pennant, a domestic violence incident in which alcohol played a large role made headlines. He was arrested in February 2011 on charges of driving under the influence and resisting an officer without violence, eventually pleading no contest to drunken driving.

In 2013, Cabrera told ESPN The Magazine what his biggest fear was in a few powerful words: "People. You can't trust people."

Years after these incidents, Cabrera has been willing to show a different side of himself.

The 2017 World Baseball Classic was another sign of Cabrera's growth. Before the tournament, Team Venezuela management had a very public clash with newly appointed manager Omar Vizquel. His stability was under question.

Cabrera intervened behind the scenes, calming his teammates and fellow countrymen after some explosive remarks from some of them were posted on social media. Vizquel stayed and business went on as usual, until Venezuela was eliminated from competition in the second round.

Cabrera, who speaks English fluently, now grants interviews without hesitation and even has dared to speak his mind on the delicate and divisive issue of the Venezuelan political situation.

Inevitably, Cabrera is not the same player he used to be. He's off to a slow start this year and missed nine games with a groin injury. Amazingly, it was only his second time on the disabled list in 15 major league seasons. However, as he showed in 2016 while hitting .318 with 38 home runs and 108 RBIs, he's still capable of putting up impressive numbers.

Finally, Miguel Cabrera is at ease with himself and the rest of the world after 15 years in the show, at a spot all his own.

Rafael Rojas Cremonesi is based in Bogota, Colombia, and covers baseball for ESPN.com.