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.

7 Comments

Miggy is doing what he does best right now – fun to watch him when he is in a groove like right now.

Now if we can just figure out why he doesn’t “look right” this season. :-)

A couple of thoughts on the playoffs, for which I will surely get some disagreement:
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Opening in NY is not necessarily a bad thing. We have Verlander and Fister in those two games, which gives us a very real opportunity of at least a split. That brings it back to Detroit with a chance to end it. If it does go to game 5, we again have Verlander. Rather than using Justin to “assure” home wins, we’d be using him as our chief weapon on the road.
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There is a possible use for Penny on the roster. If the “Bad Max” showed up in game 3 and the game gets out of hand, Penny can save the bullpen for Porcello’s start the next day. I assume Brad would replace Below or Perry. We should be able to stick with Valverde, Benoit, Coke, and Alburquerque. I’m afraid JL would stick Perry into a situation he’s not prepared for. In any case, we’re talking about a bullpen slot that may not get used much if at all.
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All just for discussion.

Rich, I agree with having Verlander and Fister as the 1-2 punch against anyone. If you can beat the Tigers against those 2 then you have earned it. Now you have to pitch to our guys. The dog days took a toll on Cabrera. He could smell the pennant in September and what did he do? Oh, hit around .420. Where is statman?

I agree Rich. The home field is a bigger deal in the longer series IMO. I like the idea of having the home field for the 2nd round in the event Texas was to upset NY in the event we have the edge at the end on Wednesday. I know there is some benefit to getting NY in a longer series to exploit their rotation but there is a benefit to getting them in a short series also. We can ambush them in Games 1 and 2 in NY with JV and Fister. The Red Sox in a short series scare me a little because they could suddenly wake up and start playing better. The same thing we did to NY in 2006.
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I also think Brad deserves to be on the roster for the post season. He took the ball every 5th day and ate up a chunk of innings. He was better in the first half when we didnt have a 5th starter. He frustrates me with his rate of play and the 0-2 hangers he gives up but he filled a role as a back of the rotation starter. I would say that the last month has been pretty bad but if our playoff success hinges on how well the 7th bullpen guy fares, we have much bigger problems.
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The way I see it; the AL is a crapshoot this year. Any of the teams could be in the World Series and I would not be shocked. I hope we have the role of underdog as we seem to relish that role. I would be shocked if the Phillies dont get there for NL.
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Is it Friday yet? Cant wait.
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Go Tigers.
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– Bob

Cabby is having fun right now. He can carry this team, and has, and will likely to continue in the playoffs as well. He is playing with confidence and relaxation.
Not sure about the dizziness. There’s a reason for everything. Maybe it’s the depleted oxygen level at the top of the batting race!
I hope he wins that.
Kelly is asserting himself as the LHB RFer IMO. Dirks is not on top of his game lately. Kelly seems to be thriving in his role(s) right now.
It would be really good to see Alex get it going again.
Let’s see JL do a little hitting and running with him and Jhonny.
I’d take Perry ahaead of Penny and Penny ahead of Pauley. (That is almost the baseball version of Peter Pierper picking a peck of pickled peppers.)
I would definitely have Below on the roster and am a bit disappointed they haven’t pitched him a bit more than they have. He might be able to be a situational lefty as well as a guy to come in to offset a poor start by Max or Porcello.
Someone needs to speak with Schlereth about becoming a little more holistic now that everything is on the line. Think Daniel!!!
It would also be beneficial (though I know you can’t upset this guy’s rhythm too much), to have Valverde paying at least a glimmer of attention to the runners.

You can Perry Pauley with Penny, but not vice versa.

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