BALTIMORE — Only Chris Davis stands between Miguel Cabrera and baseball history.
As he heads toward the conclusion of another sensational season with the Detroit Tigers, Cabrera has a decent shot at becoming the first major league player to win the Triple Crown in successive seasons.
Entering play Monday, Cabrera comfortably led the AL with a .356 batting average, 28 points higher than runner-up Mike Trout. His 126 RBIs were best in the league, too, eight better than Davis.
In home runs, though, Davis held a 46-42 advantage. And if the Baltimore Orioles slugger can make that lead stand up, then Cabrera’s bid for a repeat performance will be denied.
“As far as me being the obstruction for him doing it again, I hope he does do it again,” Davis said. “That would be awesome. He’s a great hitter. He deserves everything that he gets.
“My goal is not to go out there and keep Miguel Cabrera from winning the Triple Crown. It’s to do everything I can to put us in position to win, whether that means I hit 10 more home runs or two more home runs. I’ve had a productive year so far, but if we don’t make the playoffs, it doesn’t really mean a lot.”
A productive year? That’s putting it mildly. Davis ranks 10th in the AL with a .302 batting average, has already surpassed his previous career high RBI total by 33 and leads everyone in both leagues in home runs.
Most importantly, he’s got four more homers than Cabrera, who last year became the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967.
Davis understands the significance of the accomplishment.
“Obviously when somebody does something like that, not only is it extremely hard to do, but it doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “You have to appreciate that.”
Only two players in baseball history have won it twice: Rogers Hornsby in 1922 and 1925, and Ted Williams in 1942 and 1947.
“One is pretty special to have. It’s a pretty impressive feat to win it once,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “So, I’m going to root for Chris to keep rolling. Whether Miggy wins the Triple Crown or not, I don’t think anybody’s going to doubt what kind of a player and hitter he is.”
No one will argue that Cabrera is among the finest right-handed hitters ever to play the game. In most years, 42 homers with a week to play in August would be good enough for the league lead.
Not this year. Cabrera has been in catch-up mode for months behind the man nicknamed “Crush.”