Drafted originally by the New York Yankees organization, Tabler never played a game for the major league club. He was tried at first base, second base, third base, and the outfield by the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians before eventually becoming Cleveland’s first baseman. He was best suited for the designated hitter role he inherited from Andre Thornton in 1987. A remarkably clutch, line-drive hitter, he gained attention for his amazing success in bases-loaded situations: 43 for 88 (.489) with 108 RBI.
Tabler batted .326 in 1986, but frustrated the homer-happy Indians with his lack of power. On June 3, 1988, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Bud Black. Tabler spent a year with the New York Mets before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 1991 season. His primary contributions for the Jays came as a pinch-hitter, where he went 9 for 21.