Published on July 6th, 2013 | by John Heniff, Staff writer
Davis and Cabrera both seek historic seasons
Fifteen years removed from the historic race to break the single season home run record by Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, two new players are entwined in an all-new offensive rivalry.
Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis currently lead 10 major batting categories in the American League and are the leading candidates for the American League Most Valuable Player award.
For the last decade, Cabrera has been considered the best pure hitter in baseball. Cabrera has hit at least 30 home runs in eight of his last 10 seasons. He has knocked in at least 100 runs every season excluding his rookie season. Although his 2003 statistics are the black sheep of the flock, he played a crucial part in the Florida Marlins’ World Series victory during the season.
Last season was Cabrera’s best. He led the league with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 runs batted in. Along with winning the American League MVP award, he became the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown. The last player to do so was Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. This season, it appeared Cabrera would be the first player in Major League history to be a back-to-back Triple Crown winner. But one breakthrough player might prevent this from happening.
Originally chosen 1,496th overall in the 2004 MLB Draft, Chris “Crush” Davis moved around various teams before reaching his current position on the Baltimore Orioles from a mid-season trade in 2011. Davis began to make a name for himself in 2012 while hitting 33 home runs and 85 runs batted in on 139 hits. This season, through 84 games, Davis has hit 32 home runs and 83 runs batted in on 101 hits.
2013 has been, and looks to be, Chris Davis’ year. He began the season with 16 runs batted in over four games, a MLB record. He also joined Willie Mays, McGwire and Nelson Cruz as the only players to hit a home run in the first four games of the season. He is the only player in Major League history to hit 30 home runs and 25 doubles by June 30 in a season. Davis is on pace to make a break for Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard’s home run mark of 58 set in 2006. This total is the most of any player after MLB’s “Steroid Era” of the 1990′s and early 2000′s.
Although many players having astronomical numbers usually begin to taper off after the All-Star Break, Davis and Cabrera should have no problem finishing the season either in first or second in Triple Crown categories. Cabrera had consistently had a great batting average over his career, whereas Davis hash’t (his highest season average was .285 through 80 games.) On the flip side, Cabrera hasn’t hit more than 44 home runs in a season. Davis is well on his way to break the Oriole home run record of 50 set by Brady Anderson and possibly even reach the 60′s. As for runs batted in, this category could be won by either man, as both on their way to reaching the 140′s.
Bottom line: Miguel Cabrera would be well on his way in becoming the first repeat winner of the Triple Crown. However, if this year won’t go down as one of his best, it will be Chris Davis’. Davis is well on his way to becoming the next great hitter in the MLB, and fans will look back on 2013 as his breakout year. Regardless of the finish, the ending of this season is sure to be one of the most exciting in recent history.