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Miguel Cabrera and the season for the ages

Updated on August 23, 2013

Suppose, for some reason, that Miguel Cabrera’s season ended after Thursday night, Aug. 22. A hamstring pull, a bad cold, hemorrhoids, whatever. Even if it ended more than a month prematurely, Cabrera’s 2013 Triple Crown numbers would still rank among of the greatest of all time.

Through Aug. 22, he was hitting .354 with 40 homers and 123 RBIs (which would not win him a repeat of the Triple Crown since Chris Davis has 46 homers). In baseball history there have only been 22 seasons before this that a player hit .354 or better, 40 homers or better and 123 RBIs or better.

Half of those seasons belong to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (Ruth seven, Gehrig four). Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein each accomplished it twice. Others on the list are Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Larry Walker, Mike Piazza, Rogers Hornsby, Norm Cash and Hack Wilson.

Cabrera's numbers could reach the legends

Of course, there’s no reason to think that Cabrera won’t continue playing the rest of the season. The Tigers have 35 games remaining. Currently Cabrera has hit a home run about once every three games, and driven over slightly more than a run per game. So even if he plays in only 30 of the final 35 games, it’s reasonable to expect that he’ll finish with 50 homers and 150 RBIs. If he continues to keep the average up around .350, he’ll be only the fifth player to post numbers in that range. Babe Ruth did it twice, and Jimmie Foxx and Hack Wilson each once.

Even if his average drops and he’s at .340, with 50 homers and 150 RBIs, Cabrera would still be in rare company. Those numbers would still include the four mentioned above, plus another season for Foxx. Even falling as low as .320, you only add Sammy Sosa’s 2001 season to the mix.

Players who hit .340 with 50 HR, 150 RBI

Player
Year
Ave.
HR
RBIs
OPS
Babe Ruth
1921
.378
59
171
1.359
Babe Ruth
1927
.356
60
154
1.258
Hack Wilson
1930
.356
56
191
1.177
Jimmie Foxx
1932
.364
58
169
1.218
Jimmie Foxx
1938
.349
50
175
1.166
Miguel Cabrera
2013*
.354
40
123
1.123
 
*through Aug. 22
 
 
 
 

Even conservative projections make him great

For Cabrera’s average to fall to .330, given the amount of at bats he’s averaging per game, he’d have to hit a mere .246 in Detroit’s final 35 games. If he keeps hitting an even .300 in those 35 games, he’ll wind up with a .342 average.

So even if we become quite conservative in our projections, and put him at .340, 45, 140 for the season, it will be only the 16th such season. Of the other 15, six are by Babe Ruth, four by Lou Gehrig, three by Jimmie Foxx, and one each from Hack Wilson and Joe DiMaggio. (If you add an OPS of 1.000 or better, it’s the same 15 guys. Cabrera’s OPS is currently 1.123.)

Maybe no Triple Crown but a season for the ages

And consider what a slump Cabrera would have to be in to finish at only .340, 45, 140 – that would mean him hitting only .291 with five homers and 17 RBIs through the end of the season, which seems preposterous after the first part of the season he’s had. (Interesting side note: If Cabrera went 0 for his next 83 at bats, he’d still be hitting .300.)

Of course, these are all projections so it’s hard to know how the season will play out. But even in the most conservative case, Cabrera will have one of the greatest hitting seasons of all time. It will outrank even his Triple Crown of 2012. And if he keeps up his current pace, he will have a season for the ages.

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    • brianlokker profile image

      Brian Lokker 

      4 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      Very interesting article. I follow the National League more than the American League, so I wasn't really aware that Cabrera's 2013 season is projecting to be even better than his 2012 season. I agree that, barring a major meltdown, he's a lock to surpass last year's Triple Crown numbers.

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