Cabrera takes lead in AL batting race
Miguel Cabrera went into the weekend at least seven points behind Adrian Gonzalez in the American League batting race, and talking about how happy he’d be to see his old Marlins minor league teammate Adrian Gonzalez win the crown. He wasn’t even second at that point; Michael Young owned that honor.
As he came out of the weekend, Cabrera now has a three-point lead over Young and Gonzalez with three games to go against a team he has hit well this year. Put the matchups together, he’s potentially on the doorstep of becoming the second Tigers batting champ in five years, joining Magglio Ordonez with the honor.
Three days flipped the race. Cabrera went 8-for-12 in the last three games against Baltimore, raising his average from .333 to .341. Gonzalez, meanwhile, went 2-for-12, including 1-for-8 in Boston’s day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium Sunday. His average fell modestly from .340 to .338, but it was enough to give Cabrera a few points of breathing room. Young went 4-for-7 against the Mariners before getting Sunday off. He bumped his average up a few points.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Gonzalez has one more charge left in the race. As Cabrera points out, Gonzalez has a wild card race to play for, and a Red Sox offense to ignite after a week they’d like to forget. He’s batting .500 (31-for-62) with eight doubles this season against the Orioles, who finished out their season against the BoSox the next few days. He went 10-for-16 against them last week at Fenway Park, which allowed him to charge into the batting lead in the first place by bumping his average from .333 to .341. He 11-for-27 (.407) at Camden Yards this year.
Young, meanwhile, gets three games at Angel Stadium, where he’s batting .500 (14-for-28) this year.
The one big difference is that Cabrera has been the hottest hitter in baseball over the last month. Nobody’s batting batter over the last 30 days than Cabrera’s .427 clip or 1.280 OPS. He went from batting in the .3-teens in mid-August to more than 20 points higher, and he has just six hitless games all month.
His Sunday performance included a first-inning home run, a big two-out single that extended the fifth inning for Victor Martinez’s go-ahead three-run homer and a hard-hit line drive in his final at-bat. He left after that with dizziness, something manager Jim Leyland said teammates brought to his attention, but word from the clubhouse after the game was that it isn’t anything serious. He should be available Monday.
If he can keep on hitting, he’ll have pulled off a career Triple Crown with three league titles in four years as a Tiger. He led the AL in home runs his first season in Detroit in 2008, had an stellar year in 2009, then led the league in RBIs last year. It counts as a Triple Crown only if you do that all in the same year, but doing it this way still puts him in the company of Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.