The Detroit Tigers third baseman has been on an offensive surge since he led his team to the World Series last year and has not lost a step in 2013, writes Gregg Patton.
MLB: Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera taking aim at another Triple Crown
There was a debate last year when Miguel Cabrera was elected the American League's Most Valuable Player over Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, even after Cabrera won the Triple Crown.
There is a debate this year whether Cabrera can repeat the "trifecta" of leading the league in batting average, home run and runs batted, with Baltimore Orioles power hitter Chris Davis holding a seven-homer lead.
But there is no debate about this: Cabrera is hands-down the best hitter in baseball. The Detroit Tigers third baseman went into the All-Star Game leading the major leagues in batting average, runs batted in, hits, runs scored and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average).
He was out-performing his own 2012 Triple Crown pace, and seemed to be the rare man in a batter's box without any weaknesses.
His manager, Jim Leyland, told the Dan Patrick Show, "I don't truly think there's any way to pitch him. You might think there's a hole [in his swing] here or there. But he's so smart."
He is no flash-in-the-pan, either. He has been consistently excellent his entire career, changing only for the better.
The right-handed hitter is in his 10th full season, and has dipped below 30 home runs only once and under .300 just twice. At age 30, he is clearly in his prime. At the All-Star break, CBSSports.com did a statistical analysis of Cabrera's most recent 162-game stretch, adding his first 93 games of this season with his final 69 games of 2012.
The website concluded that the combined numbers – 54 home runs, .352 batting average, 155 RBI, 215 hits, 123 runs and 1.108 OPS – had never been attained over any 162-game span by any other hitter in the history of the game.
An arbitrary slice of the schedule, perhaps, but the point was made. The Venezuelan slugger has been worth every bit of the eight-year US$152 million (Dh558.2m) contract he signed in 2008.
Cabrera told ESPN that he does think about repeating his Triple Crown, after being the first player to accomplish the feat since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
"But I don't put pressure on myself," he said. "I just go out and have fun and play hard."
While most players disingenuously claim not to pay attention to their statistics, Cabrera embraces them.
"I care about numbers," he said. "If you put up numbers you win games."
In fact, in Cabrera's most productive season of 2012, the Tigers made it all the way to the World Series, where they lost to the San Francisco Giants.
Better season, better results? No doubt, the Tigers are hoping form holds.
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