Miguel Cabrera, reigning Triple Crown winner for leading the league in Batting Average, Home Runs and RBI, has 28 RBI in the teams first 26 games, putting him on pace to pass 162 RBI for the season.
Manny Ramirez accomplished this feat in 1999, then before that, the last occurrence was by another Red Sox player, Jimmie Foxx with 175 in 1938. During a stretch from 1927 to 1938 at least one player passed 162 RBI in a season all but 1 year, and the all time record was set during that span, in 1930 by the Cubs’ Hack Wilson with 191. Outside of this offensive period (when Hank Greenberg set the Tigers record with 183 in 1937) knocking in at least 1 runner per game is exceedingly rare.
It also seems that every year, or every other year a player gets off to a hot start in April, and newspapers and analysts (and bloggers that live in their Mother’s basement and eat cheetos all day…nom nom nom) start to figure out if player x can break Hack Wilson’s 191 RBI in a season record. The answer has always been no and I think the answer will always be ‘no’ as it has become just too difficult to even pass 140 RBI in a single season.
But, Miguel Cabrera is probably in the best position in a while to surpass the 162 RBI in a season mark. We have already looked at Austin Jackson potentially scoring 150 runs this year and that will be a big part of 162, but in addition to Jackson being on base, Cabrera gets help from Omar Infante and Torii Hunter as well. Infante, in the 9th spot, having a.333 OBP this year and Torii Hunter, the veteran hitting 2nd in the lineup, is currently sporting a .405 OBP, so both will help add to Cabrera’s RBI total by continuing to get on base regularly.
Cabrera then get’s even more help to reach 162 RBI from the players he has no chance of knocking in: Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez. These two established hitters can knock in plenty of runs themselves and force pitchers to challenge Miguel Cabrera more than they normally would because they run the risk of putting even more pressure on themselves by pitching around Cabrera and putting him on base.
Protection in the line up always leads to more production and Cabrera has plenty of it. With a solid pair in Jackson and Hunter in front of him getting on base and the threat of a huge inning in Fielder and Martinez behind him, Cabrera is very likely to get to at least 140 RBI, probably 150 and will have a good look at knocking in 162 runs this year.
Just another side show to watch for the Tigers while they dismantle the AL Central.