Miggy to the max

Baseball Fates, please note (please?): I’m just playing around here! None of these things will actually come to pass; it’s just a way of expressing how hot he’s been so far.

Miguel Cabrera finished Thursday’s game #45 with a .391 BA, .701 slugging, 1.168 OPS, 14 HRs, 55 RBI, 39 Runs, 72 hits, 129 total bases, and an OPS+ well north of 200.


The projection multiplier from 45 to 162 is 3.6, so….

  • Heads up, Hack? Bourn’s gift to Miggy (plus Thursday’s daily dinger) put him on a pace of 202 198 RBI. [whoops!]
  • You, too, Babe? Cabrera’s on pace for 464 Total Bases. Ruth’s 1921 record is 457.
  • The last qualified season of .680+ slugging: Bonds, 2004. Same goes for OPS of 1.120 or better or OPS+ of 200 or more.
  • Last with 250+ hits: Ichiro, 2004, record 262 hits. Cabrera’s pace is 259 hits, which would be #2.
  • Last with .380+ BA: Gwynn, 1994. Last in a full season: Brett, 1980. But Brett also played just 117 games that year. The last to hit .380 with 500+ ABs: Carew, 1977.
  • Besides Ruth ’21, the only guy with 450+ Total Bases was Hornsby, 1922 (450 even). Last with 400+ Total Bases: Sosa, 2001.
  • Cabrera’s batting .391 with a 50-HR pace. No one ever has batted .380+ with 45+ HRs. The most HRs with a .380+ BA is 42 by Hornsby ’22 (.402 BA). The highest BA with 45+ HRs is .378, by Ruth in ’21 (59 HRs) and in ’24 (46 HRs); Ruth is also #3 (.376, 54 HRs in 1920), and tied for #4 (.373, 46 HRs in ’31) along with Gehrig (.373, 47 HRs in ’27).


Cabrera over Detroit’s last 162 regular-season games (161 G for Cabrera):

  • .355 BA, 1.092 OPS, 50 HRs, 159 RBI, 125 Runs, 222 Hits, 419 Total Bases, 97 strikeouts.

Of the twenty-five 50-HR seasons since 1990, only Bonds, Belle and Luis Gonzalez did it with less than 100 Ks.

No Tiger has ever reached 400 Total Bases; Greenberg holds their top 4 marks, from 397 to 380.


With runners in scoring position, Cabrera is 31 for 59, with 7 HRs, 44 RBI, 12 walks, 4 strikeouts and 2 GDPs, .525 BA, .932 SLG, OPS well over 1.500. The searchable records (since 1945) for seasons of at least 150 PAs with RISP:

  • BA: .469, Brett, 1980 (61 for 130)
  • SLG: .944, Bonds, 2001 and 2004; he also has the #3 mark of .882 in ’02. No more than 89 ABs in those years, but that wasn’t his fault; he had more walks than ABs for those years combined in RISP spots.
  • OPS: 1.698, Bonds, 2004 (he’s also #2 and #3, both over 1.550, in 2001-02).

Using a 100-AB floor instead, we get:

  • SLG: .907, Mantle, 1961 (18 HRs in 107 ABs).
  • OPS: 1.443, Mantle, 1956.

The searchable record for HRs with RISP is 20, by McGwire (1998) and Jim Gentile (1961). The record for RBI is 125 in 1999 by … see Postscript below.


Age-30 records, since 1901 (BA-qualified):

  • BA: .393, Harry Heilmann. Cabrera’s .391 would be 2nd.
  • SLG: .723, Hack Wilson. Cabrera’s .701 would be 4th.
  • OPS: 1.177, Hack Wilson. Cabrera’s 1.168 would be 3rd.
  • OPS+: 209, Ty Cobb. Cabrera’s 201 would be 2nd.



I’m thinking of a right-handed masher who, in 2008, hit 37 HRs with over 120 RBI and just over 330 total bases, ending that season with a new team and league than he’d been with the year before. He was a regular from a young age and a consistently potent hitter. He averaged a 141 OPS+ in several seasons through age 26, without reaching 160 in any year. At 27, he exploded with a league-best OPS+ in the 170s and his first RBI title. His OPS+ was over 160 each year from age 27-30, averaging 176. He batted over .340 twice, and hit over .330 for the period.

These statements all fit both Miguel Cabrera and Manny Ramirez.


Miggy to the max — 65 Comments

  1. So, this Cabrera dude is pretty good, huh! Shows what dropping a few pounds can do.

    Seriously, it does seem like he’s either shed some pounds or some fat, or both. Which is a good sign for his maturity, and for continuing to play at a high level for a long time to come.

    Detroit’s other big name slugger – seems like his game is already headed downhill and will be picking up momentum fast, unless he starts taking better care of his body.

    • The weight loss and improved (somehow) hitting both seem to coincide pretty well with him getting his drinking under control. As far as I know, anyway.

  2. A couple more things about Cabrera.

    One is that many of those seasons used to measure his performance against come in years with extremely high offensive levels verses where we are now. I doubt he can sustain these numbers but I don’t find it at all unlikely that he can surpass his triple crown figures, particularly his batting average.

    The second thing is the amount of power that he can generate out of such a smooth, controlled swing. One of those balls that he hit out to dead center came on a swing that looked so easy that I thought the ball might drop in front of the center fielder.

    • That’s a great point Hartvig about his his swing. I don’t watch him that much, but when I checked out his recent highlights, I was amazed at how easy he swings.

  3. It is an impressive season, so far. I think, John, that the last of the top bullets is the one that will bite. If you had to choose between BA and HR for Cabrera, which one would you choose? 0.380+ or 50+ homers?

    • For me it’s a sliding scale of course- I’d take 0.370 and 45 homers in a heartbeat- but if I had to choose just between those two I would go with the 50 homers.

  4. I noticed the Millville Meteor is picking up the pace too. 28 XBHs in 47 games (Cabrera has 27). I’m thinking #1 and #2 contenders for MVP again? If so, would it go to Trout this year? I still think voters would go for the overwhelming triple crown stats.

    • PP, that was very much on my mind last night, too. And, “right” or “wrong”, I’m pretty sure that if Cabrera doubles up on Triple Crowns — and especially if he improves in some or all categories — he would repeat as MVP.

      • Just saw Trout’s homer in his cycle game. 463 feet dead center. How Mark Trumbo of him. Didn’t know he had that kind of power.

        • I’m surprised that Trout’s dWAR is also negative like Miggy’s, -0.6 vs -0.7, respectively. How can such a physical specimen like Trout be playing bad defense? Is he running into walls like Bryce? Or he hasn’t quite caught as many HR balls over the wall as he did last year.

          Also, how much does he need to do to get back to positive WAR? i.e. how many baserunners does he need to throw out or spectacular catches does he need to make? Is it because the Angels overall outfield defense is better that he doesn’t have to make so many plays?

          If he doesn’t get well into positive WAR territory, I don’t see how he could compete with Miggy for the MVP. He’ll have to hit a lot more HRs and 3Bs.

          • Russell, Trout is already within one full win of Miggy, 0.9 WAR behind Cabrera (1.9 to 2.8).

            As for the defense, I thought it was maybe Trout playing left field the first few weeks of the season. But it appears his -6 DRS consists of -4 runs in CF and only -2 in left, so I don’t know what is going on there.

  5. I’m not a fan of errors as a stat but, as long at it exists, doesn’t Michael Bourn have to be charged with one?

    • Evan – One would think so but the rules say otherwise. Rule 6.09h:

      (h) Any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run. However, should such a fair fly be deflected at a point less than 250 feet from home plate, the batter shall be entitled to two bases only.

      Not sure I agree with the rule but it is what it is.

    • I think the most relevant rules guidance on the Bourn play — and it’s not much — is the 10.12(a)(1) Comment, which says the outfielder should be charged with an error “if, in the official scorer’s judgment, an outfielder at that position making ordinary effort would have caught such fly ball.

      “Ordinary effort” is the general standard on errors. But there’s no guidance on applying that standard in the specific case of a player who runs a long way for a ball, and then muffs it.

      The de facto standard is that such plays are almost never scored as errors, the logic being that an “ordinary effort” might not have even gotten the fielder within range. I don’t always agree with how that’s applied, but in this case I do.

      If Bourn had had enough time to set his feet, and then had muffed it, I would have charged an error. Some might say that he slowed too soon — i.e., that he could have kept running hard to the fence, and then planted and received it. But he was on the warning track when he slowed, and weren’t we all saying “that’s what the warning track is there for” last week when Harper charged on past to his face-plant?

      • John – I don’t see how the official scorer has a role in this. The rule I cited makes it clear that if the ball is tipped over the fence in fair territory, it’s a home run. (the ball that Carlos Martinez bounced off of Canseco’s head was also a home run for the same reason).

        • Ed — You might think this too legalistic, but the phrase “shall be entitled to a home run” does not seem like it’s addressing how the play should be scored, but merely how many bases the batter gets. Note that the next sentence in that rule uses the phrase “shall be entitled to two bases only” (if the ball is deflected over the fence less than 250 feet from home plate) — it doesn’t say “a double.”

          Also, and again this is my legalistic mind at work, I think all scoring decisions are covered by Section 10, the Rules of Scoring. Anything said in Section 10 about how to score a play should have presumptive preference over anything said or implied in another section.

          • Yeah John you’ve lost me on this one. A home run has a specific definition in baseball. A home run is a home run is a home run. There’s no room for Clinton-esque definitions here.

            Baseball chose to use the phrase “home run” in that part of the rule book, rather than saying “shall be entitled to home plate”. I don’t see how the Official Scorer can overrule that. The fact that somewhat similar plays are handled differently is irrelevant in my opinion. Those were choices that baseball made at some point for reasons that are likely lost to history. I don’t necessarily agree with those choices but oddly no one asked me. :)

  6. Never thought I would see a better all around Tigers hitter with pure hitting with Average and Power than Kaline. Miguel Cabrera is in even more rarified company of all time greats. A pure hitter with maybe 2/3 infield hits a year and foul pole to foul pole Power, the likes of which for a righty batter to right and right center, I have not seen a better home runs distance hitter.
    Question regarding Cabrera and Fielder with 96 rbi between them in Tigers first 45 games. Has there been a more productive in that stats Tigers duo in 45 games to the start of a season?

  7. Pingback: Deep Thoughts: Miguel Cabrera on pace for … | HardballTalk

    • I know it’s silly to “reply” to a pingback, but … I tried five times to comment on Craig Calcaterra’s blog — I logged in five times successfully, but the stupid system just bounced me back to the same page, with nowhere to type.

      Now that I have that rant out of my system (ha! — as if I could *ever* be done with my rant about asinine technology), my real point is just to remind everyone (including Craig) of my introductory statement: “None of these things will actually come to pass; it’s just a way of expressing how hot he’s been so far.”

  8. “With runners in scoring position, Cabrera is 31 for 59, with 7 HRs, 44 RBI, 12 walks, 4 strikeouts and 2 GDPs, .525 BA, .932 SLG, OPS well over 1.500…”

    His RISP rate stats are not sustainable over an entire season; 31-for-59 is an insane .535 BA, which is 66 points higher than Brett’s 1980 all-time high of .469 (no wonder he had 118 RBI in 117 games). I don’t see him getting 192 RBI.

    As great as Cabrera is, he’s not Bonds-great, so he’s probably not going to slug .932 either.

    If he keeps up this super-hot streak, he’ll start to get walked more, even with Fielder batting behind him. I can see him coming close to maintaining the OBA and SLG, but not the BA (which will probably fall as his RISP BA falls). Say, a line of .370/.460/.690; a Lou Gehrig-in-1934 type line, with comparable HR/RBI.

    • As to the batting average: I will agree with everyone who says that a .380 BA is very unlikely. But it’s not a pipe dream, either.

      Most of the highest BA seasons since the mid-1930s were way above that hitter’s established level.

      For the 4 prior years combined, Cabrera batted .331, which I think establishes a “true” level of ability heading into this year.

      Now here are the last 8 qualified years at .380+, since 1932:

      – Tony Gwynn, .394, 1994. Going backward year by year, Gwynn had hit .358, .317, .317, .309 … The most generous figure for his true level of ability going into ’94 (unless we take *just* the one preceding year) would be gotten by taking his 7 prior seasons, which add up to a .332 BA.

      – George Brett, .390, 1980. Going backward, .329, .294, .312, .333. That’s the most generous assessment of his ability at that point, and it adds up to a .319 BA.

      – Rod Carew,.388, 1977. OK, Carew did have a .351 BA in the 4 prior years, so that’s wasn’t an extreme surge.

      – Ted Williams, .388, 1957. Also not a huge surprise, since Ted was a career .348 hitter by that point, including…

      – Ted Williams, .406, 1941. Now, that was a shock — he was a career .336 hitter over 2 prior seasons. And, as great as he was, .336 would prove much much closer to his true ability (career .344) than .406.

      – Joe DiMaggio, .381, 1939. Career .331 hitter over 3 prior seasons, and .316 for the rest of his career afterwards.

      – Luke Appling, .388, 1936. Had never hit over .322 in his prior 5 full years, and his best marks in 11 full years after were .348 and .328.

      – Arky Vaughan, .385, 1935. Career .322 hitter over his 3 prior seasons, never hit above .335 before or after that year.

      So, while .380 seasons are very rare, they do happen once in a while — and when they do, the immediate reaction is generally “where did THAT come from?”

      Cabrera is currently batting .400 on balls in play. Again, that’s very likely to go down, but: Just since 1990, there are 17 qualified seasons with BAbip of .390 and up. Manny had a .403 in 2000, and I don’t see anything Manny could do that Miggy can’t. Cabrera already owns full-season BAbip’s of .379, .365, .358 and .355.

      • @18/JA –

        Wow, that was quite a rigorous analysis of high-end BA’s. However, I was referring _more_ towards Cabrera’s chances of continuing his RBI pace of about 200, on track to break Hack Wilson’s record of 191.

        My point is that since his BA with RISP is a totally unsustainable .535, much higher than Brett’s all-time high BA of .469 w/RISP in 1980. Since Cebrera’s BA w/RISP is probably going to fall considerably, so is his RBI total. He could still hit .375-.380, but he’s very unlikely to get 190 RBI.

        I’d say he’s likely to get 165-170 RBI, IF he doesn’t go into an extended slump, OR miss more than a couple games. He’s mised more than five games only once in nine full years, so I don’t see durability as a problem.

        Of course, his RBI totals will depend a lot on the performance of the #1 and #2 hitters:
        Tigers leading off -.341 OBA/ mostly Austin Jackson (.333)
        Tigers batting 2nd -.386/ Tori Hunter (.360)

        • Most RBI in his team’s first 45 games is Jimmie Foxx with 68 in 1938.That projected to 233 RBI in a 154 game season. He wound up with 175 RBI in 149 games played.

        • Lawrence — Agreed that his RISP performance and opportunity are both likely to come down.

          I’m surprised to find that Cabrera is #1 so far in RISP chances, both PAs and ABs. As you noted, the OBP from their #1-#2 hitters combined has been good, not great. And their #8-9 spots have OBPs of .254 and .315, respectively.

  9. So last year through 45 games:
    .358/.433/.685/1.118 (14 HR)
    .368/.422/.753/1.175 (20 HR)
    vs this year through 45 games:
    .391/.467/.701/1.168 (14 HR)

    The guy on the top was a better defender (miggy is -0.6 dwar already) and stole a couple bags. If that wasn’t enough hints, The top line is the first 45 games of Matt Kemp’s 2012 season. Slight lead for Miggy with the bat buy nothing an 0 for 5 game 46 wouldn’t swing the other direction. The second guy from 2012 is Josh Hamilton who blasted absurd power numbers out of the gate.

    Miggy’s great but there is a guy who’s first 45 games look like this almost every year.

    • mosc, the first part of your point is a good reminder. But let’s have a closer look at your two examples from last year:

      – For Matt Kemp, you’ve chosen to highlight “the first 45 games of Matt Kemp’s 2012 season”. However, that took 97 team-games. Through 45 team-games (which is the relevant standard here), Kemp batted .359/1.173, with 12 HRs, 28 RBI, 29 Runs, and 85 total bases. Yes, he was going great for 34 games — but he got hurt and missed 6 weeks. Miggy never gets hurt; Kemp missed more games last year than Cabrera has missed in his career. Kemp’s had one great full year with the bat. It’s a bit of an apple/orange comparison.

      – Josh Hamilton, through 45 team-games, was hitting .379/1.187, with 18 HRs, 49 RBI, 34 Runs, 122 total bases. Similar to what Cabrera’s done so far; more HRs, less run production. And as I recall, people were absolutely foaming over his early performance, such as when he hit 4 HRs in a game and 9 HRs in a 6-game span in May and was then batting over .400. So why can’t I foam a bit about Cabrera?

      And while nobody disputes your point about defense, I’m not sure where it fits in this discussion.

    • FWIW, for the last 5 years, the leaders after 45 team-games had:

      Hits — #1, Cabrera, 2013, 72 hits. #2, Aaron Hill, 2009, 68 hits.

      Total bases — #1, Cabrera, 2013, 129 TB. #2, Raul Ibanez, 2009, 123 TB.

      RBI — #1, Cabrera, 2013, 55 RBI. #2, Hamilton, 2012, 49 RBI.

      So I don’t think starts like this are so terribly common.

  10. Meanwhile Justin Verlander has 3 straight non-quality starts. That appears to be his longest such streak since the first 4 games of 2009.

  11. After 45 games in 1956 Mantle was batting .411, with 70 H, 45 R, 20 HR, 50 RBI, .833 SLG, 1.333 OPS. He cooled down somewhat, but still won the Triple Crown. I say this periodically, but yeah, it’s a long season.

    • After 45 games in 1999 Manny was 13-59-.348 with 40 runs and 115 total bases. He had 98 RBIs after 81 games, though after 45 games he was at a 213 pace.

    • nsb, it *is* a long season. But no Miggy overenthusiast is going to be discouraged by your showing a hot start by one of the greatest offensive players in history, in arguably his greatest season. :)

  12. Watching Miggy this year has been amazing. But one thing that’s begun to bug me a bit is people are starting to compare him to Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds in his steroid years without comparing him to the recent player who’s outdone Miggy every year of his career.

    That player is Albert Pujols. Remember him?

    Let’s look at the careers of Pujols and Cabrera, year for year. Miggy debuted at age 20, a year before Albert, so we can’t begin a comparison until age 21.

    age: Miggy – rWAR / Albert – rWAR (higher WAR in bold)

    age 20: Miggy – 0.6 rWAR
    age 21: Miggy – 3.5 / Albert – 6.6
    age 22: Miggy – 5.2 / Albert – 5.5
    age 23: Miggy – 5.8 / Albert – 8.6
    age 24: Miggy – 3.2 / Albert – 8.4
    age 25: Miggy – 2.7 / Albert – 8.4
    age 26: Miggy – 5.1 / Albert – 8.4
    age 27: Miggy – 6.5 / Albert – 8.7
    age 28: Miggy – 7.6 / Albert – 9.2
    age 29: Miggy – 7.3 / Albert – 9.7

    So every single year age-by-age, Albert has been the superior player. When you add all that up, it’s just not that close. Pujols has 74 WAR age 21-29, Miggy has 47. That’s just a different class of player right there.

    Here’s another example. Look at these WAR graphs from Fangraphs, which tell the same exact story: http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=1744,1177

    Are these differences in WAR attributable to better fielding and baserunning from Pujols? Some of it, yes. But there’s no denying this: from age 21-29 Miggy had 395 Rbat and Pujols had 536. Again, hardly apples and oranges but Pujols has clearly been the superior hitter.

    I’m old enough to still have respect for a Triple Crown won, but let’s be honest about it. Albert Pujols has seven years where he was a better hitter (and certainly a better player) than Miggy was last year. Cabrera’s Rbat was 53 last year; Albert’s yearly totals include seven seasons ranging from 54-73 Rbat.

    I understand fully about the anti-Pujols backlash when he signed the big contract with the Angels (although I DID think a few more people might realize he may have been the most underpaid player in baseball history for his first decade of work). But I’m bumfuzzled as to why so many people have completely forgotten how great Albert Pujols was last decade.

    How can anyone not mention Pujols when finding people to compare Miggy to?

    P.S. I’m not referring to you in the least, J.A. Your “just playin’ around” article here was fun.

    • bstar — Your statements are all true, and I know you were not speaking about me. FWIW, I have not noticed that people are comparing Cabrera to anyone as an all-around player, although I recognize that speaking strictly of his hitting (without mentioning his shortcomings) may have the same net effect as making such a comparison explicitly.

      My other semi-counterpoint is that an age-by-age comparison isn’t necessarily better than any other order in which we might stack up their years.

      Albert was hitting at HOF-inner-circle level by his 3rd season, and basically stayed right there for 8 seasons (ages 23-30).

      Cabrera was on a much lower plane for his first 6-1/2 seasons, a 141 OPS+. But he made a quantum leap in 2010; his OPS+ since then is right at prime Albert level.

      Purely as a hitter, I think that Cabrera from 2010-present comes close to the best 4-year Rbat span in Albert’s career, which I think was 2003-06 (age 23-26). I calculate Albert at 68 Rbat per 162 G for that span, while Cabrera is at 63 Rbat/162 since 2010. (BTW, the B-R sum function doesn’t seem to be functioning correctly for either player in this regard.)

      • OK, forget the age-by-age comparison. Look at the first graph on the link I provided from Fangraphs. It lists a players’ nth best season in decreasing order of production.

        You’ll notice a distinctive WAR gap for Pujols above Miggy every year.

        Pujols by this comparison outdoes Cabrera by a minimum of 1.9 fWAR (8.7 vs. 6.8 fWAR in their 2nd best season) to a max of 5.4 fWAR (7.0 vs. 2.6 fWAR in their ninth best season).

        But you’re right, this is really strictly about hitting. But from what I’ve read and heard recently, the two names that are getting the most mention as valid comps to Miggy are Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. What happened to Pujols (and A-Rod, for that matter)?

        JA, please keep in mind that the only way Cabrera’s 4-year Rbat is going to be 63 per 162 is if he continues to hit this way all year. And when we assume that, we’re basically saying Miggy’s going to hit .390 with league-leading power the rest of the season.

        Who’s ever really done that? As far as hitting .390 with 40+ HRs, that’s only been accomplished twice:

        -Rogers Hornsby, 1922, 42 HR and .401 BA
        -Babe Ruth, 1923, 41 HR and .393 BA

        That’s the problem with making year-long projections at the apex of a player’s hot streak.

        I remember an article on HHS about this time last year. It was right after Josh Hamilton’s 4-HR game, I believe. The piece was about whether Matt Kemp or Josh Hamilton could either hit .350 or club 50 HRs. Fast-forward to the end of the year, and combined the two players went 0 for 4 (with Josh’s 43 HR the only semi-serious challenge to those benchmarks).

        Sure, we’re more confident in Cabrera than Kemp or Hamilton, no doubt. But we’re basically assuming Miggy’s going to be Babe Ruth for the rest of 2013. That might be a little premature.

        • We don’t really have a dispute, b. But when you say “the only way Cabrera’s 4-year Rbat is going to be 63 per 162 is if he continues to hit this way all year,” that isn’t true at all.

          His 2013 rate is 97 Rbat/162, which has raised his 2010-present rate from 59 for 2010-12 up to 63. He could revert to his 2011 rate of 65 the rest of this year and still wind up with at least 63 Rbat/162 for the 4-year span.

        • Also, b, it seems that you’re mixing together some things that I’ve said with things that I didn’t say. I did say that Miggy in recent years has been close to prime Albert. I did not say that he’s going to bat .390, or be Babe Ruth for the rest of the year.

          Actually, I said he’s *not* going to do any of those things. Again, those “projections” were just a way of expressing what he’s done so far; if anything, they were to show how very unlikely it is that he’ll keep it up, since the results of that would be truly historic numbers.

          • OK, sorry, you’re right. I was thinking you were projecting Cabrera’s RBat to be 97 for the entire year and THEN his Rbat 4-yr avg. would be 63. My fault.

            So Miggy is averaging 63 Rbat per 162 for 3 1/3 years. Pujols averaged 63 Rbat per 162 for nine seasons (2002-2010).

    • P.S. to bstar: You posed an excellent question at the end — “How can anyone not mention Pujols when finding people to compare Miggy to?”

      Speaking just for myself, you are probably right that, in the short term, I had put to the back of my mind Albert’s long run of brilliance.

      However, I first became really interested in Cabrera’s growing stature sometime in the 2nd half of 2011, specifically because I noticed that he was about to best Albert in OPS+ for the 2nd straight year — something previously unimaginable. Albert was, indeed, the gold standard.

  13. Putting it all together, Miggy’s probably headed to one of the top 5 all-time seasons. Only these three had 200 hits, 50 HR, 150 RBI and a .350 average.

    Rk Player OPS+ HR RBI H BA Year Age Tm G PA AB R 2B 3B BB SO OBP SLG OPS Pos
    1 Babe Ruth 238 59 171 204 .378 1921 26 NYY 152 693 540 177 44 16 145 81 .512 .846 1.359 *78/13
    2 Jimmie Foxx 207 58 169 213 .364 1932 24 PHA 154 702 585 151 33 9 116 96 .469 .749 1.218 *35
    3 Hack Wilson 177 56 191 208 .356 1930 30 CHC 155 709 585 146 35 6 105 84 .454 .723 1.177 *8
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 5/24/2013.
    • Without checking WAR totals I can extend the list to 6 by adding Ruth’s ’20, ’23, and ’27 seasons. Miggy’s not touching any of those.

      • I think what Doug is getting at here (in spite of the OPS+ being the first category shown) is actually more it terms of the impressiveness of the triple crown slash line.

        Without context, some Triple Crown winners records don’t look all that impressive: Ted Williams winning with 32 homers and 114 RBI’s in 1947, Frank Robinson winning with a 0.316 batting average and 122 RBI’s in 1968, Medwick winning with 31 homers and Klein winning with 28 in the 1930’s when their American League counterparts in each of those years had 46.

        I suspect that in the end Cabrera will fall short of at least one of those standards but if he does manage to hit over .350 and still wins the crown he will join Mickey Mantle in 1956 (.353) as only the second to do so since World War 2 which is impressive enough.

        • You are correct, sir.

          The OPS+ wasn’t part of the query. Just included it in the displayed results to provide some of that context you talked about.

          Ruth’s 1921 season stands out on the short list above because he was the only one doing this crazy stuff – the revolution he was creating was just him at that point. His 1920 season was even higher at 255 OPS+, and he had 217 in 1919 with .322/.456/.657 and “only” 29 HR.

          When Ruth hit 54 HR in 1920, 2-5 on the list were at 19, 17 15 and a bunch at 14 HR. In 1921, with Ruth at 59, 2-5 were at 23 and 24 HR, so you can start to see others starting to imitate his approach. In 1922, other than Ruth, you have 4 players over 25 HR, 3 over 30 and 1 over 40, all marks only Ruth had reached before, and it just took off from there.

        • Gotcha. Looked those Ruth seasons over this morning. Crazy black numbers all along the line, was what I was remembering, with high BAs though 2 seasons in 130s RBIs and one with 41 homers. He did miss the triple in ’23 though he hit .393, good for 2nd. Cabrera certainly has the potential to have a .350-50-150 season with 220 hits, for sure.

          • The closest Ruth came to the Triple Crown was in 1926; Heinie Manush led with a .378 BA to Ruth’s .372, three or four hits less.

            The one year Ruth led in BA, 1924, he somehow had only 121 RBI and lost to Goose Goslin’s 129.

            For all his great years, Willie Mays never really came close to the TC (probably 1955).

  14. 18 players have accumulated 55 or more RBI in their first 45 games. Listed below are the players with their seasonal and projected totals. Projections are for 154 or 162 games depending on the season. For Joe Carter I used 115 games which was the Toronto total in 1994.

    Player……….Year..45 games…Season…Projected
    Jimmie Foxx…..1938….68……175…. 233
    Chuck Klein…..1930… 60……170…. 205
    Cy Williams…..1923… 60….. 114…. 205
    Manny Ramirez…1999… 59….. 165…. 212
    Al Simmons……1929… 59….. 157…. 202
    Hank Greenberg..1937… 57….. 183…. 195
    Zeke Bonura…..1937… 57….. 100…. 195
    Manny Ramirez…2001… 56….. 125…. 202
    Bob Meusel……1925… 56….. 138…. 192
    Ted Williams….1942… 56….. 137…. 192
    Joe Carter……1994… 56….. 103…. 143
    Babe Ruth…….1926… 56….. 153…. 192
    Lou Gehrig……1927… 55….. 175…. 188
    Paul Waner……1927… 55….. 131…. 188
    Jimmie Foxx…..1932….55….. 169…. 188
    Ken Griffey…..1997… 55….. 147…. 198
    Miguel Cabrera..2013….55….. ?…… 198
    Stan Musial…..1954… 55….. 126…. 188

  15. Looking at the biggest RBI years as a percentage of team runs, it seems even more unlikely that Cabrera could reach that upper echelon.

    I looked at the 19 modern seasons of at least 160 RBI. The highest percentage of team runs driven in was 20.6% by Sammy Sosa in 2001 — 160 RBI out of 777 team runs.

    Cabrera is has so far driven in 22.4% of Detroit’s runs (55/245), a rate you only see on bad teams. Even if he were to match Sosa’s lofty rate, and the Tigers continue at their current pace, he’d finish with 182 RBI out of 882 team runs.

    If he were to drive in, say, 18% of Detroit’s runs — roughly the middle of this list — and Detroit picked up the pace a little to 900 runs, he’d wind up with 162 RBI.

    Here’s the list of 160-RBI seasons, ranked by % of team runs:

    Player …… RBI … % of Tm … Year … Tm … Tm Runs
    Sammy Sosa … 160 … 20.6% … 2001 … CHC … 777
    Lou Gehrig … 165 … 19.6% … 1934 … NYY … 842
    H. Greenberg … 183 … 19.6% … 1937 … DET … 935
    Jimmie Foxx … 175 … 19.4% … 1938 … BOS … 902
    Hack Wilson … 191 … 19.1% … 1930 … CHC … 998
    Jimmie Foxx … 163 … 18.6% … 1933 … PHA … 875
    H. Greenberg … 170 … 18.5% … 1935 … DET … 919
    Babe Ruth … 171 … 18.0% … 1921 … NYY … 948
    Chuck Klein … 170 … 18.0% … 1930 … PHI … 944
    Lou Gehrig … 175 … 17.9% … 1927 … NYY … 975
    Hal Trosky … 162 … 17.6% … 1936 … CLE … 921
    Al Simmons … 165 … 17.4% … 1930 … PHA … 951
    Lou Gehrig … 184 … 17.2% … 1931 … NYY … 1067
    Jimmie Foxx … 169 … 17.2% … 1932 … PHA … 981
    Joe DiMaggio … 167 … 17.1% … 1937 … NYY … 979
    Babe Ruth … 164 … 16.8% … 1927 … NYY … 975
    Lou Gehrig … 174 … 16.4% … 1930 … NYY … 1062
    Manny Ramirez … 165 … 16.4% … 1999 … CLE … 1009
    Babe Ruth … 163 … 15.3% … 1931 … NYY … 1067

    • Highest percentage of team RBI by a player is 22.75% by Nate Colbert of the 1972 Padres, followed by Wally Berger of the 1935 Braves at 22.61%.

        • The last guy I remember getting some ink for driving in a high percentage of his team runs was Adrian Gonzalez at 18.6% in 2008. Sure enough, the Padres were 63-99 that year.

      • Berger also had 19.2% in ’33, and 19.0% in ’34. In 1935, he had 130 RBI, #2 on the team had 60, #3 had 42. Sometimes, a man *is* an island.

  16. A few more Miggy stats (no projections!):

    – 10 of his 14 HRs came with someone on base, producing a total of 24 RBI.

    – He has just 5 PAs with the bags full. Fifty players have more so far, led by Jay Bruce (13); Fielder has 10.

    – He has 41 PAs with 2 or 3 men on base, which is tied for 6th. Jay Bruce leads with 45, and Phillips is 2nd with 44.

    – His 33 ABs with 2+ on base is tied for 9th. His 16 hits is tied for 1st.

    – His line drive rate is 30%, tied for 5th among 170 MLB qualifiers.

    – His HR/fly ball rate is 15.4%, just 24th among qualifiers. Harper, Upton, Reynolds and Davis are all over 21%.

    By the way, Victor Martinez batting 5th is absolutely killing their offense. Gotta believe he’ll start squaring up better … but maybe he could work on that from the #7 spot?

    • It was a pretty good night for Detroit’s Venezuelan contingent: Sanchez, 2 RBI each for Cabrera and Infante, 2 hits and 2 runs for Avisail Garcia, and even V-Mart got a hit.

      • I know most of the teams (if not all of them) have baseball academies in the Dominican Republic, but what about Venezuela? Do MLB teams have baseball facilities over there? The number of players from Venezuela have increased considerably in the last decade.

        • Luis, what I find puzzling is that there are so many Venezuelan position players, but fewer pitchers. Any ideas on that?

          • Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe some HHS reader from Venezuela might help us.

            I just checked BRef page on Venezuelan-born players. Out of 292 players from Venezuela only 114 were pitchers (39 %). Among them, 38 All Star players but only 7 of them are pitchers (18 %).

  17. I wish I had led off with MC’s actual stats over Detroit’s 162 games from 5/26/12-5/23/13. “This is genuine coin of the realm, sir. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.”

    Again: .355 BA, 1.092 OPS, 50 HRs, 159 RBI, 125 Runs, 222 Hits, 419 Total Bases.

    What caught my eye on a second look is that Detroit only scored 775 runs in this stretch — so Cabrera drove in 20.5% of their runs. Great work by him, but a little disturbing for the team. Very few good modern teams have one guy approaching a 20% rate.

  18. Don’t look now, but since this article was posted just last Friday, not only has Miguel Cabrera cooled off considerably, Chris Davis has passed him in a number of categories.

    Cabrera stills leads in RBI, BA, hits (tied) and runs, but Davis has passed Cabrera in OBA, SLG (by a lot), OPS, total bases, HR, and most importantly, OPS+(219/189) and Adjusted Batting Wins (3.1/2.6).

    Another lesson on the perils of extrapolating entire seasons from small partial-season samples…

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