Detroit Tigers: Why Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder Will Continue Their Torrid Pace
Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have been tearing the cover off the ball so far this baseball season, and they don't look to be slowing down anytime soon.
The Detroit Tigers' 2-3-4 hitters are leading the team in batting average in their same respective lineup order to help the struggling Tigers keep their heads above water.
For most of the first month of the season, the Tigers' top three hitters led boasted the best batting average and on-base percentage in the American League.
Detroit has struggled over the past week, losing its last four games to fall to fourth in AL team batting average, but the Tigers' stars are doing their jobs.
Here is why the Tigers' three best hitters will continue their torrid pace for the rest of the season:
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The 37-year-old Torii Hunter came to Detroit as a free agent this offseason, looking to win his first World Series in his 15-year career.
He won't hit .400 this season—let's get that out of the way right now—but after batting a team-high .395 almost a month into the season, he's on pace to have the best season of his major league career.
With one home run and nine RBI in 74 at-bats, Hunter is benefiting greatly from having the defending American League MVP, Cabrera, hitting behind him, and the desire to win a ring is driving Hunter to do great things so far.
Hunter, the Tigers' No. 2 hitter this season, has been at his best in the two-hole throughout his career, boasting the best average of any position in the lineup with a .310 career mark in 146 games.
He's right at home at Comerica Park, as well. In stadiums where he's played at least 50 games, Comerica Park is near the top of Hunter's hitting list.
In 87 career games, most of which came as a visitor, Hunter has posted a .279 average at Comerica Park. With the crowd behind him as a Tiger, Comerica Park will become even more friendly to Hunter.
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Miguel Cabrera is a machine at the plate.
The defending AL MVP picked up where he left off from a season ago and is actually on pace to post better numbers in most categories this year than he did in 2012.
Cabrera is hitting .355 through 76 at-bats this season, and has two home runs and 18 RBI.
Over the past six seasons, Cabrera has hit at least 30 home runs with at least 103 RBI in each campaign. He's been named an All-Star in each of the last three seasons and has been in the top-five in MVP voting each of the last four years.
You would think that with those gleaming numbers, pitchers would find a way to avoid Cabrera and intentionally walk him more often, but with the talent surrounding Cabrera, that's almost impossible to get away with.
Cabrera finally has a consistent hitter in front of him in Hunter and he's got his portly partner in crime hitting behind him again in the four-hole.
Fielder has protected the league MVP in each of the last two seasons—hitting behind Cabrera last year and batting behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in 2011.
Cabrera has taken his game to new levels year after year. He won't slow down with a loaded lineup around him this year.
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Prince Fielder posted the best average of his career in his first season with the Tigers a year ago, but with his power numbers down from his best years with the Milwaukee Brewers, 2012 was somewhat of a disappointment for the rotund first baseman.
So far, 2013 looks to be a career year for Fielder in every major hitting category.
In 69 at-bats, Fielder is hitting .333 and is leading the team with five home runs and 21 RBI.
He started the season, averaging .436 through his first 11 games. He then came back to earth by enduring an 0-for-13 slump against the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners, but even after that, he is still hitting well above .300.
Fielder, now in his second year with the Tigers will look to duplicate the success he had in his second full season in Milwaukee.
In 2007 with the Brewers, Fielder hit a career-best 50 home runs and had 119 RBI for the third-best RBI mark of his career.
Fielder is adjusting to AL pitching as well as getting comfortable with his spot in the Tigers' lineup and with his life in Detroit.