Miguel Cabrera missed 13 games in the 2013 regular season, but that didn't stop the Tigers from going 9-4 in those games, and -- more importantly -- putting up an average of five runs-per-game during that period. With Cabrera struggling to hit for power since the end of August, to whom do the Tigers and their fans look to supply the extra pop at the plate?
In five of those 13 games that Cabrera sat out, the Tigers' offense put up six or more runs. In only three of those games did they fail to score more than two runs. Looking at the batting stats for those 13 games provides at least some insight as to which players have been able to rise to the occasion in the past. The sample size is necessarily small, of course, and yet certain patterns still emerge -- and they're not all that surprising.
The Tigers' offense knocked in 62 RBI during those 13 games, and as is to be expected, there were a few instances in which unlikely heroes emerged. Don Kelly, Brayan Pena, and Matt Tuiasosopo each knocked in one RBI. Ramon Santiago and Hernan Perez each knocked in three RBI's, combining to account for a surprising 10 percent of the total number. Andy Dirks was good for three RBIs himself, and Jose Iglesias came through for four RBIs.
But what about the usual suspects? Alex Avila knocked in five RBIs over three games, including two multi-RBI games. Jhonny Peralta played in eight of those 13 games, but, strangely, only provided three RBIs. Victor Martinez, likewise, only managed to knock in two RBIs in two of those games. Omar Infante was responsible for five of those RBIs, but all five came in a single game against Cleveland on August 31, off of two home runs.
The bulk of the RBIs, however, came from the dynamic duo at the top of the lineup, along with quite a bit of help from the Prince. Austin Jackson knocked in eight RBIs in five games, good for 13% of the total, and he also scored 11 times in eight of those games. Obviously, an Austin Jackson who is hitting and getting on base is a potent weapon for the offense. Prince Fielder knocked in 11 RBIs in seven games, supplying 18 percent of the total, with three home runs.
But the most dangerous member of the Tigers' offense in those 13 games that Cabrera missed was Torii Hunter. He knocked in 12 RBIs in seven games, with three multi-RBI games, and four home runs. His contribution accounted for 19 percent of all the RBIs in those 13 games. The combination of Jackson, Hunter, and Fielder accounted for 31 total RBIs, 50 percent of the total, with 10 home runs.
Prince Fielder is certainly a very important ingredient in a potent Tigers' offense, but this stretch of 13 games suggests that Torii Hunter -- who hit one more home run and knocked in one more RBI than Prince in this period -- is just as important, and can potentially supply that extra-base/home run power that has been so lacking in recent weeks.
Scoring runs is a team effort, and the Tigers can always look to players like Avila, Infante, and Peralta to chip in and do their part, but it appears that what they need most right now is for Jackson and Hunter to provide that one-two punch with more consistency.