For all the coming of age by Bryce Harper, the understated brilliance of Paul Goldschmidt, the busting out of Josh Donaldson, really, you just can’t beat this guy when it comes to bat meeting pitched ball in a Major League Baseball setting.
Mike Trout? Heck, no. We’re talking the best hitter in baseball, Miguel Cabrera.
It’s amazing, even with Trout having shed Miggy’s massive shadow to capture AL MVP honors last season and others erupting on the offensive end this season, the fact of the matter is, Detroit’s corner infielder has no peer when he steps to the plate.
Thus far, the only issue in 2015 is getting him to that position. Due to assorted ailments and, apparently, aging, the 32-year-old already has missed 37 of the Tigers’ 130 games this year.
Until Monday, you wouldn’t have seen him among the league leaders in anything … because he didn’t qualify for consideration. Now, he does, and, surprise, surprise, he tops the AL in batting average by a large margin entering play Tuesday night. Miggy’s .358 dwarfs the next closest guy, Cleveland’s Michael Brantley, who is hitting .322.
His slugging ain’t exactly on the fritz, either. On his current pace, Cabrera should finish with 21 homers and 82 RBIs in just 116 games. Those won’t be enough to challenge for the season-long statistical honors in either category, but if he does qualify, and right now Cabrera figures to push the envelope right up until the final game with that, Miggy would win the batting title while also leading MLB in on-base percentage (.460) and the AL in OPS (1.049).
The guy most comparable to Miggy in career terms would be Albert Pujols, who happens to be three years his senior. Pujols’ production started to slide at age 31 and his batting average began a downward slope at 33. Miggy is between those two ages right now, and shows no signs of slowing down – when he’s on the field.
REALITY CHECK: Trout fans, especially those in the media, it’s time to accept the obvious – your boy is not the AL MVP this season. Donaldson leads all of MLB in runs scored (101) and RBIs (108), both by pretty comfy margins, and checks in with 36 heading into September play and a .301 batting average. He’s far more than just a competent fielder at third base, too.
Yeah, Toronto has had terrific seasons from Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, not to mention a real boost from trade-deadline pitching pickup David Price, but if not for Donaldson the Blue Jays wouldn’t be anywhere near the Yankees in the AL East standings … never mind leading them by 1.5 games heading into Tuesday night.
For Trout (.296, 33 homers, 74 RBIs and 82 runs scored) to even re-enter the MVP discussion, he’d have to produce a September that would harken back to the likes of Ruth, Foxx and Gehrig – maybe all rolled into one.
The NL MVP race, amazingly, considering Harper’s heroics, remains more wide open with the Washington outfielder facing stiff competition in Goldschmidt and former MVPs Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey, who are spearheading postseason runs by Pittsburgh and San Francisco, respectively.
HARD TO BELIEVE: Saw this guy at Citizens Bank Park earlier this season toss around some serious leather, but, geez, Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is so good it’s hard to judge just how good.
Check out his latest gem from Monday night.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org