I'm fresh out of superlatives.
The first time Miguel Cabrera came to the plate Thursday at Comerica Park, he drilled a 391-foot home run, his 14th of the year, to put the Tigers on the board first and temporarily take the lead in all three Triple Crown categories. His third time at the plate, he added another RBI, his 55th of the year, with a grounder up the middle. At that point, the Twins got sick of pitching to him, instead deciding pitching around him to issue a walk in the seventh and an intentional walk in the eighth. It's been quite a couple of days for Cabrera: including a three-homer game in Texas Sunday, he has six HR and 13 RBI during the past four games .
Today, Cabrera is first in the majors in batting average (.391), first in RBI (55) and second in HR (one behind Chris Davis of Baltimore). If you prefer Lee Panas' sabermetric "alternative" Triple Crown categories, add total bases (129) and times on base (99) to stats Cabrera leads the AL in. (Joey Votto has been on base 107 times for the NL's Reds). Cabrera leads baseball in OPS by .054 and in wOBA by .030.
The feats don't end there. Cabrera's RBI pace -- 1.22 per game -- translates to 198 if he continued that rate for the entire 162-game season. The rate is more of a concern than the games played here: Cabrera has participated in 160-or-more games four of his prior five seasons with the Tigers. The most RBI in a single season came in 1930 when Hack Wilson of the Cubs recorded 191. (Digression: Wilson had 56 HR and participated* in more than 28 percent of his team's runs that year.) Even if Cabrera does not set the record (he probably won't), just making the top 10 list puts him among a Tim Kurkjian-ian list of names: You'll find Lou Gehrig (three times), Hank Greenberg (twice) and Jimmie Foxx (twice) there, as well as Babe Ruth and Chuck Klein -- all Cooperstown inductees.
(I'll pause only momentarily here to tell you that if someone tries to insult your intelligence for caring about such a Luddite figure as the RBI stat, tell them to kiss off.)
The point is this: Every time we see Cabrera doing some amazing feat that seems improbable -- such as winning the Triple Crown last year -- he seems to go out and do something to even top that.
Take the Wilson comparison. Cabrera has been a part of 80 runs this season -- or 1.78 runs per game. At that rate, he'd finish at 288 in 162 games. That would be more than Wilson, though just off Wilson's 1.81 rate. What about as a share of his team's runs? Cabrera's 80 runs participated in accounts for nearly 33 of the Tigers' runs this year. Now that is a valuable player!
Of course, it seems unlikely to expect Cabrera to finish at such rates, just as it seems unlikely to expect him to win a second-consecutive Triple Crown. He's a great player, but the season is long and with many twists.
But that we're sitting here as we enter Memorial Day weekend in the United States -- the first real "pole marker" of the baseball season -- discussing such possibilities tells you all that you need to know about Miguel Cabrera's season.
* (RBI + R) - HR
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