COMMENTARY | Every so often, a hitter of tremendous magnitude comes around and makes a game, one in which a great player succeeds only one-third of the time, look easy. With an effortless swing and a knack for hitting a baseball, Detroit Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera is that type of hitter.
Cabrera has always put up elite numbers in his career, but the third baseman did it all in 2012 en route to baseball's first hitting Triple Crown since 1967. He finished last season with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs, 139 RBIs, the American League MVP Award, and, of course, the Triple Crown.
A special honor for a special type of player raises an important question: Could Cabrera repeat his dominant performance this season?
The answer has to be a definite yes. It's looking increasingly likely that Cabrera could top those numbers in 2013 and join Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams as the only men to hit for two Triple Crowns, as well as become the only player to do so in back-to-back seasons.
If you look at Cabrera's numbers at this point of the season and compare them to the same point in 2012, there is a noticeably vast improvement between the years.
Cabrera hit .263 with seven home runs, 22 RBIs, and 31 hits through 30 games last season. He also had an OBP of .323, an OPS of .798, and a .475 slugging percentage.
Through 30 games this season, Cabrera has hit .385 with six home runs, 36 RBIs, 47 hits, a .465 OBP, a 1.080 OPS, and a .615 slugging percentage.
Even with Cabrera hitting one fewer home run, the improvement is still incredible. He has 16 more hits, 14 more RBIs, a slugging percentage that has doubled, and a batting average that has increased by more than .100 points this season.
The scary thing is that Cabrera has composed all of these numbers this season without truly heating up. It was only a matter of time before his long-ball power woke up, and with the help of the recent change of weather in Michigan, Cabrera seems primed for a hot streak.
It's worth noting that the 30-year-old has benefited from a much stronger lineup in 2013. He now hits behind two potential All-Stars in Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter.
The offseason signing of Hunter has been huge for Cabrera's RBI numbers. Hunter routinely gets on base over the men he replaced in the two-hole, Andy Dirks and former Tigers OF Brennan Boesch. Hunter is also a table setter in the lineup, something the Tigers and Cabrera have been in need of for quite some time.
The return of Victor Martinez tremendously helps Cabrera in all offensive factors. Cabrera now hits ahead of a dynamic duo, Prince Fielder and Martinez. This kind of protection in the lineup gives Cabrera better at-bats each day, thus improving his overall numbers.
It's still early in the season, and while comparing numbers and making such claims may seem insane, it's nothing of the sort when you're talking about a player like Cabrera. He's arguably the best pure hitter that the game has seen in recent years and has an outstanding track record that can back up all claims.
He's proved that he can easily put up elite numbers against baseball's best competition and if anyone can outshine and repeat a historic Triple Crown season, it's without a doubt Cabrera.
Ricky Lindsay has followed the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball with a close eye from Metro Detroit for several years. He's a sportswriter for his college newspaper, The Michigan Journal, and broadcasts games for the Michigan Lightning, a semi-professional football team.
You can find him on Twitter @RLindz35.
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