The presence of big-time home run hitters and run producers has seemed to vanish ever since Barry Bonds‘ career ended following the 2007 season.
Since the 2007 season, the average runs per game in MLB has dropped from 4.80 to 4.20, batting averages have dropped from .268 to .254, on-base percentages from .336 to .318 and home runs per game from 1.02 to .97. This has not only resulted in many more baseball games being pitcher’s duels, but has led to the amount of truly great hitters in MLB dropping significantly.
But despite all trends seeming to say that the era of the great hitter is passing us by, there is still one player that can mash like it is 1998. That player is Miguel Cabrera.
This season, Cabrera has posted the best offensive season since Bonds retired, and has done it while staying free of performance-enhancing drugs. He has put up a stat line of .359/.450/.688 with 1.137 OPS, 43 home runs and 130 RBIs. These statistics are good for the best OPS, second-best OBP, third-best average, eighth most RBIs and 12th most home runs of any player since the 2008 season began.
Oh yeah, and he has done this all while there are still 31 games left to play in the regular season.
Cabrera has a comfortable lead in the AL in batting average and RBIs, but is still three home runs off the pace in the home run department. Despite being behind the pace in home runs, Cabrera is actually besting his 2012 triple crown-winning numbers by a long shot.
He has a .030 better average, .057 better OBP than last season, and is only off the home run and RBI mark by two and 11 respectively. By the time the season is over, he will have blown both of these out of the water, and proved that players can put up stats that belong on a Playstation without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Cabrera’s mere presence at the plate strikes so much fear into his opponents that they are afraid to even throw a strike to him. This type of treatment with another very fearsome batter on-deck has not been seen since Bonds was getting intentionally walked like it was going out of style.
The closest single-season statistics to Cabrera’s 2013 season since 2008 come from Albert Pujols in 2008 and 2009, but they do not come anywhere close to matching Cabrera’s mixture of power numbers, batting average, OBP and OPS in a single season.
At this point, it would be no surprise to see Cabrera come from behind Davis to make up the three home runs that separate them and win the triple crown for a second consecutive season, while cementing his place as the most feared hitter since Barry Bonds in the process.