Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
As we are seeing with Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, greatness doesn't last forever, so we need to enjoy Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera's dominance at the plate while we still have it.
Cabrera is aiming to become the first hitter in major league history to earn a Triple Crown in two consecutive seasons. He's also on pace to break Hack Wilson's RBI record, which has stood since Wilson put up 191 RBI in 1930.
The slugger appeared to reach his peak last year when he batted .330 with career highs in homers with 44 and RBI with 139, but he might just shatter those marks.
Cabrera leads the majors with a .391 batting average and 55 RBI and his 14 homers are one behind AL leader Chris Davis. He struck out 98 times in 622 at- bats last year, but this season has more extra-base hits (28) than Ks (26).
Cabrera's excellence has me wondering if anyone in the American League will even be able to put up a fight in preventing a repeat Triple Crown.
Below, I've identified three players in each Triple Crown category who I think can inhibit Cabrera from making history.
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins - Mauer already has three batting titles under his belt, and he's hitting .339 in 168 at-bats this season. Mauer's 20.5 percent strikeout rate is a career high, but so is his 30.2 percent line-drive rate.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels - Trout came close to toppling Cabrera last year with a .326 average. His sophomore season started slow, but he's batting .366 over his last 22 games and just hit for the cycle on May 21.
Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox - Pedroia won a batting title in 2008 with a .326 average and is a career .304 hitter. He's batting .330 this season and is hitting a higher percentage of groundballs than he ever has before in lieu of flyballs. That's a good thing when you are a career .212 hitter on flyballs.
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles - As I mentioned above, Davis is leading the AL in homers with 15. He hit 36 homers last year and had a 37.5 percent flyball rate and a 25.2 percent HR/FB. This year, his flyball rate is even higher at 44.9 percent, and so is his HR/FB at 28.3 percent. Davis has been more patient this year, putting up a chase rate that is 6.7 percentage points lower than last year, and he has also made contact on 87.2 percent of pitches in the strike zone, up from 82.5 percent in 2012.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays - Bautista quietly has produced 11 homers in 141 at-bats this season and hit 135 big flies over his last 442 games. We know he can hit a ton of homers in a hurry, as he proved when he hit 34 in an 80- game span in 2010, 20 in a 47-game stretch in 2011 and 23 over a 55-game span in 2012. It might only be a matter of weeks before he's leading this category.
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays - Bautista doesn't even lead his own team in home runs currently due to this man. Encarnacion, who hit a career-high 42 homers last year, has continued to display big-time power with 13 longballs in 2013.
Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers - Yes, Cabrera's teammate and lineup protection could be standing between him and another Triple Crown. Fielder is third in the AL with 41 RBI, and if pitchers start intentionally walking Cabrera with men on base regardless of the situation, Fielder would be in position to capitalize.
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles - In addition to home runs, Davis might also be able to best Cabrera in RBI. The big first baseman in second in the league with 44 RBI and has driven in 16 runs in 19 games this month after plating 28 in 27 games in April.
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox - Ortiz missed the first three weeks of the regular season due to inflammation in both Achilles' tendons so he's behind the field in RBI, but he's right behind Cabrera in RBI per game. He has 34 in 29 games and has proven to be a prolific run producer over the course of his career.
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