Detroit Tiger third baseman Miguel Cabrera put together a season worthy of an MVP in 2012, despite stiff competition from Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Though reservations about how he trumped Trout’s overall rookie campaign were voiced by many, there was no disagreeing that Cabrera is among the best hitters in the game — if not the best outright.
After winning the triple crown — leading all American League hitters in average, home runs and runs batted in — it seemed like he would have a difficult time topping last season. However, he is on pace to earn yet another triple crown and is doing so with numbers even more impressive — though only through 43 of the season’s 162-game schedule. Through the first quarter of the season, Cabrera is batting .384 with 12 home runs and 49 runs batted in. Those numbers projected over the course of a full season would be .384 AVG. 45 HR and 185 RBI. Last year, he finished batting .330 with 44 HR and 139 RBI.
Currently, Cabrera has a .31 lead in batting average over the Rays’ 1B James Loney, trails the Yankees 2B Robinson Cano in home runs by one and has eight more RBI’s than Baltimore’s 1B Chris Davis. The rate at which Cabrera is driving in runs could earn him a shot at the all-time record, set at 191 by Hack Wilson in 1930. Only three players have hit more than 150 RBI’s in the 21st century: Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada.
The remarkable thing here is that through 43 games last year, Cabrera was batting .306 with 8 HR and 34 RBI. In the summer months, Cabrera turns up the heat. If he does that this year, he could possibly put together the finest hitting season baseball has seen in many a year.
It’s too soon, of course, to begin talking about year-end statistics, but with the start Cabrera is off to, it’s hard not to. His 2012 MVP faced justified objections over his problems fielding his position at third. And that hasn’t changed this year: Cabrera’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement), despite his eye-popping numbers at the plate, is just 2.4: 10th in all of MLB. His four errors and .954 fielding percentage — ranking him 8th out of 12 qualifying American League third basemen — suppress that number.
There’s no arguing, however, that the current pace that Cabrera is setting will earn him another MVP trophy if he keeps it up — a feat even even more impressive than the one he pulled off in 2012, when he became the first batting triple-crown winner since Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.