Miguel Cabrera: Can the Detroit Tigers Slugger Win the Triple Crown Again?

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Miguel Cabrera: Can the Detroit Tigers Slugger Win the Triple Crown Again?
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Major League Baseball went 46 seasons between batting Triple Crown winners.

Miguel Cabrera took the honor last year and was the first player to lead the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs since Carl Yastrzemski did the trick in 1967 with the Boston Red Sox.

Cabrera had a batting average of .330, hit 44 home runs and drove in 139 to do it. Ironically enough when Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967, Frank Robinson pulled the treble the season before.
So, it can be done in back-to-back years. How likely Cabrera is to do that is another story.

Can he match those numbers again this year?

Cabrera is only 30 years old. He is still in the prime of his career and certainly capable of producing such a gaudy numbers again.

With Prince Fielder in the lineup behind him, he certainly will get good pitches to hit. With Fielder protecting him in the lineup, Cabrera's walk total dropped from 108 in 2011 to 66 last year. At the same time, his number of plate appearances jumped from 688 to 697.

American League pitchers gave Cabrera better pitches to hit and Cabrera took full advantage increasing his hit total to a career-high of 205.

If he continues to choose his pitches well then certainly he could hit at least .330 again. In 2011, Cabrera hit for career-high of .344 and has had seven seasons where he has hit no worse than .320.

While his 44 home runs was a career-high, Cabrera has hit at least 30 the last seven seasons and hit more than 35 three of his last five seasons. His power stroke is one of the most stable in the game and could break 40 again easily in 2013.

The wild card, of course, is runs batted in. He needs the top two hitters in the lineup to reach base enough to give him a chance to drive in enough runs. Cabrera has driven in at least 100 runs every season since 2004. Three times in the last five years, Cabrera has driven in a least 125.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Cabrera acknowledges fans in Kansas City after clinching Triple Crown

So, to answer the question of whether he can match those numbers again, yes he can.

Will that be good enough to lead the league in 2013?

Let's start with batting average first. Cabrera won the batting title by four points over Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout, .330 to .326. Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers was third at .321. Since Cabrera has already had seven seasons of hitting at least .320, he should finish no worse than third. If he were to hit .344 again, he probably would win it outright.

The home run race would be tougher.

Five AL players hit at least 40 home runs in 2012. If Cabrera is to repeat as a Triple Crown winner, he is going to have to match his 44 homer total of a year ago. If he were to match his previous career high of 36, that would only be good enough for sixth place on last year's list. If he's going to do this, he has to hit at least 40.

Runs batted in may be his strongest suit.

Can Miguel Cabrera win the Triple Crown again?

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Yes, the statistic that some fans love to hate may be the easiest one of the three for him to repeat.
Cabrera's 139 total last year won the RBI crown by 11 over Josh Hamilton and third-place by 29. Seven times over the last nine seasons Cabrera's number would've put him at least third in last year's RBI race.

Hamilton will probably be his closest competition this year. In switching from the Texas Rangers to the Angels, he will now be in the same lineup as Trout and Albert Pujols. If Hamilton bats cleanup then he can run away with a monster RBI number.

If he bats in front of Pujols, however, the heating Cabrera should be on equal footing even with Trout leading off for the Angels. Cabrera is a better overall hitter than Hamilton.

While Cabrera repeating his Triple Crown winner may not be probable, it certainly is plausible. A player needs a certain amount of luck to pull it off to begin with. Cabrera has the skills to go with that luck.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ronjuckett

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