August 19th, 2013

Putting Cabrera’s numbers into perspective

Here’s the thing about Miguel Cabrera in 2013: If the season ended today, he’d have a historic season on his hands.

According to baseball-reference, he’d have 17th season in Major League history with a .360+ average, 40+ home runs and 120+ RBIs. Babe Ruth is responsible for six of them.

Rk Player BA HR RBI Year Age Tm OBP SLG OPS
1 Rogers Hornsby .401 42 152 1922 26 STL .459 .722 1.181
2 Babe Ruth .393 41 131 1923 28 NYY .545 .764 1.309
3 Chuck Klein .386 40 170 1930 25 PHI .436 .687 1.123
4 Lou Gehrig .379 41 174 1930 27 NYY .473 .721 1.194
5 Babe Ruth .378 46 121 1924 29 NYY .513 .739 1.252
6 Babe Ruth .378 59 171 1921 26 NYY .512 .846 1.359
7 Babe Ruth .376 54 137 1920 25 NYY .532 .847 1.379
8 Babe Ruth .373 46 163 1931 36 NYY .495 .700 1.195
9 Lou Gehrig .373 47 175 1927 24 NYY .474 .765 1.240
10 Todd Helton .372 42 147 2000 26 COL .463 .698 1.162
11 Babe Ruth .372 47 153 1926 31 NYY .516 .737 1.253
12 Larry Walker .366 49 130 1997 30 COL .452 .720 1.172
13 Jimmie Foxx .364 58 169 1932 24 PHA .469 .749 1.218
14 Lou Gehrig .363 49 165 1934 31 NYY .465 .706 1.172
15 Mike Piazza .362 40 124 1997 28 LAD .431 .638 1.070
16 Norm Cash .361 41 132 1961 26 DET .487 .662 1.148
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/18/2013.

That’s if the season ended today. Cabrera’s Tigers have 38 games left. He’s on a pace to top 50 home runs and 150 RBIs. Check the table above, and just two seasons fit that category: Babe Ruth in 1921 and Jimmie Foxx in 1932.

A lot can happen over the next 38 games. The Tigers could run away with the division to the point that they could rest Cabrera for some games in September. More opponents could just decide to walk Cabrera and take their chances with Prince Fielder. Or Cabrera could another crazy September like he did last year and surpass projections again. But the fact that we’re even discussing this in late August is astounding.

There’s going to be some sort or history at season’s end for him. Unless something crazy happens, he’ll become just the ninth hitter in Major League history — and just the fourth right-handed hitter — to win three consecutive batting titles. None of the other eight — Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner or Nap Lajoie — did so with three consecutive 30-homer seasons. Only Hornsby and Cobb led their league in batting average and RBIs three consecutive seasons.

The possibilities here are more rare than winning one Triple Crown. If Cabrera wins back-to-back Triple Crowns, of course, it would be unprecedented.

By the way, if you look at the table above, there’s an amazing part to it. The numbers in bold indicate a league-leading total. Just two guys on that list won a Triple Crown with their numbers that year. Hornsby’s season in 1922 is the standard, and Lou Gehrig did it in 1934.

 

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