Can Miguel be the first .400 hitter in 72 years? After playing in 45 games this year he had a BA = .391, an IPBA = .447 and a SOA = .133. Since his IPBA is 20 points higher than .427 all Miguel needs to do (Ha! Ha!) is for the rest of the season keep his IPBA at above .447 and at the same time reduce his SOA by 30 points to .103 and he will be right on the doorstep of batting .400. So far in 2013 Miguel averages 4 at-bats per game. This means he will have approximately 625 at-bats this year. To have an SOA ≤ .103 he would need to have less than 73 Ks in 2013. Before this year his best year was 98 Ks in 622 at-bats, giving him an SOA of .157. Maintaining a .447 IPBA for an entire season will also be very difficult. In my book, I list the only 3 players (2000-2007) with an IPBA > .447 for a season. They were S. Sosa, M. Ramirez and R. Howard. Each of these players was a power hitter with a very high SOA.
What does Miguel have going for him? He is protected in the batting order by Prince Fielder so he should see good pitches to hit. He is a power hitter and power hitters tend to have a higher IPBA. In my book, I list the 56 players between 2000 and 2007 with IPBA > .400 for an entire season. Of those, 71% were power hitters with at least 30 home-runs. What is going against Miguel batting .400? Being slow-footed he will not be able to get infield hits. Being a power hitter he tends to strike-out more. The term regressing toward the mean definitely applies in baseball. What this term says is as a player increases his at-bats his observed average will move toward his true average. This applies to his BA, SOA, and IPBA. His average SOA from age 27 to today was .154 and his average IPBA was .401. Since his observed SOA of .154 and observed IPBA of .401 are based on close to 2000 at-bats in his prime years, we can assume that his true SOA is close to .154 and his true IPBA is close to .401. Therefore, it would be unrealistic to expect his current SOA to move toward .103. Also, his current IPBA should dip toward .401 as this year’s at-bats pile up. Therefore, Miguel Cabrera will not join the elite .400 club.
What about Miguel repeating his Triple Crown achievement? After 45 games last year, Miguel had a BA of .306 with 8 HR and 35 RBI. After 45 games this year, he has 14 HR and 55 RBI to go along with his BA of .391. His improvement in each category is amazing. After 45 games, he is in second place, 1 home run behind Chris Davis and leads second place Davis by 11 RBI. In BA, he is 41 points ahead of second place James Loney. Leading the league in RBI will be no problem for Cabrera . Currently, the Detroit Tigers lead the league in both BA and OBP. This along with the fact that Miguel bats third in the Detroit line-up behind two .300 hitters, assures him of batting several times with men in scoring position. In fact, in his last 23 at-bats with two outs and men in scoring position he has 20 hits. No wonder he is an RBI machine. With such a large lead, winning the batting title will also be no problem. This leaves one question mark. Can he lead the league in home runs? Last year he won the HR title by just 1 HR and there were 3 players within 3 HR. Currently, he trails Chris Davis by 1 HR and is 2 ahead of Cano and Encarnacion. Right now he is on pace to hit 48 HR, 4 more than in 2012. My feeling is the home run race will go down to the wire. Encarnacion who hit 42 in 2012 and C. Davis (breakout year) are his biggest threats.
Not only do I believe Miguel Cabrera can repeat his Triple Crown, but I believe he will. This will mark the first time in baseball history that a player has won back-to-back Triple Crowns. News Flash: Cabrera is now on pace for 198 RBI which would break Hack Wilson’s record of 191.