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Is there anything Miguel Cabrera can't do this year? | Larry Stone's notebook
Miguel Cabrera's exploits keep mounting. Last year, he won the first Triple Crown in 45 years, and now he's bidding to become the first...
Miguel Cabrera's exploits keep mounting.
Last year, he won the first Triple Crown in 45 years, and now he's bidding to become the first player ever to win the Triple Crown in consecutive years.
Only two players, in fact, have ever won two Triple Crowns — Rogers Hornsby (1922 and '25) and Ted Williams (1942 and '47).
And let's not stop there. With a .385 average, why couldn't Cabrera make a run at the first .400 average since Ted Williams in 1941? And with 57 runs batted in through Detroit's first 46 games, he's on pace for 201 — yeah, 201 — RBI, which would smash Hack Wilson's 83-year-old record of 191 in a season in 1930.
"The only thing he can't do is run," Cleveland manager Terry Francona told reporters this week. "If he could run it would be a joke."
Cabrera was asked by the Detroit Free Press how it feels to be called one of the best hitters in history.
"It's too soon to say that," said Cabrera, 30. "There are a lot of great players who have played this game. I respect that they did a lot for baseball. They got 3,000 hits and more than 500 home runs. They already did it.
"My career is short right now. There is a long way to go to say that."
When columnist T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times criticized Angels owner Arte Moreno, fellow owner Lew Wolff of the Oakland A's leapt to his defense. Wolff wrote a letter that was published in the newspaper on May 18, calling Moreno "a solid, committed, and important Major League Baseball owner (who) unhesitatingly risks his own resources to seek a World Series for his fans... "
Notes and quotes
• Last year, Yu Darvish of the Rangers got more swinging strikeouts than any other pitcher — 193 out of 221. And this year, he once ahead leads in that category with 74, according to research by Logan MacPhail of Bloomberg Sports and David Smith of Retrosheet. Matt Harvey of the Mets is second with 59.
Through Thursday's games, Felix Hernandez ranked fifth in swinging strikeouts (55), and Hisashi Iwakuma was seventh (54).
• One name that could become prominent at the trade deadline is Matt Garza of the Cubs. Garza came off the disabled list from a strained back on Tuesday with a strong effort, reaching 95 mph with his fastball. He's a free agent after the season.
• Indians outfielder Michael Brantley doesn't back down against the best pitchers. He has a career average of .464 against Justin Verlander (13 for 28) and .400 against Felix Hernandez (8 for 20).
In fact, Brantley's combined career batting average against Hernandez, Verlander, Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Bronson Arroyo, James Shields and Josh Beckett is .413 (43 for 104).
"I think it's his swing," Francona told reporters. "His swing doesn't have a lot of moving parts, which allows him to get to good pitches."
• Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin is starting to get noticed. And he should, having gone six innings or more and given up two runs or fewer in all nine of his starts. He's the first major-leaguer to do that since Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez, who had 12 straight such starts at the outset of 2010.
Corbin has a 1.44 earned-run average, and after a recent strong start, Chipper Jones tweeted, "This Corbin dude is pretty nasty!"
• Embattled Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had some very pointed comments about his struggling team this week, calling them out for a lack of toughness and grit. Here's a sampling from The Orange County Register:
"We're in last place in the NL West. ... Last year at this point, we're playing with a lineup that had basically nobody in it, that fights and competes and battles for every inch of the field.
"We talk about it as an organization. We've got to find a team with talent that will fight and compete like a club that doesn't have that talent. ... I felt we got more out of our ability (last year). I don't know about being tougher but I felt we got more out of our ability. We only did it for a short period of time. Can't say we did it for a whole year, but we did it for a short period of time.
"There has to be a mixture of competitiveness. It's not, 'Let's put an All-Star team together' and the All-Star team wins. It's finding that balance of a team that has a little bit of grit and will fight you. And also having talent to go with it."