Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/5/13
DETROIT Miguel Cabrera is chasing ghosts by threatening the records of the greatest players the game has ever known. To me even more significant than pursuing Triple Crowns in back-to-back seasons is challenging the games single-season record for knocking in runs. And the reason he could succeed in breaking that record is because hes teaming with Prince Fielder in approaching the top run-producing seasons Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig put together in tandem. The individual single-season record is held by Lewis Hack Wilson, who totaled 191 RBIs as a center fielder for the 1930 Chicago Cubs. I ran that total by Cabrera before Tuesday nights game with the Tampa Bay Rays. Thats a lot man! said Cabrera, shaking his head and smiling. Cabrera is on pace to drive in 188 runs this season, and could challenge Wilson. I asked him if he thought he could surpass Wilson. Thats impossible, he said in a serious tone. Just impossible, man. Cabrera said that RBIs mean more to him than any other stat, making it his most treasured jewel on the Triple Crown. But the staggering total Wilson accumulated 83 years ago blows Cabreras mind. I spoke with Rays manager Joe Maddon in the dugout during batting practice, asking if he thought Cabrera could get 192 RBIs. Thats Hack Wilson territory, said Maddon, who studies the games history. If other teams choose to pitch to him, I think he can do it. If they dont pitch to him, he cant. Its that simple. That theory came into play in the second inning. Rays starter Matt Moore, who brought an 8-0 record and 2.18 ERA into the game he would lose, 10-1, walked Cabrera on four pitches that were not close to the strike zone despite the fact that first base was occupied. Maddon said he wanted Moore to go after Cabrera, but it sure didnt look that way. That loaded the bases with two outs, and put the pressure on Fielder. He responded with a two-run single, and has been amazing of late in the at-bats after Cabrera walks. Fielder has gone 8-for-9 with a walk in his last 10 at-bats following a Cabrera walk, and knocked in 10 runs in the process. The dangerous, left-handed hitting first baseman is on pace for 139 RBIs. Fielder was a big reason why Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45 years in 2012, and Fielder could be the main reason why Cabrera challenges Wilsons mark in 2013. Incidentally, Wilson was the same age that Cabrera, 30, is now when he set the record. Cabrera and Fielder are on pace for 327 RBIs. Ruth and Gehrig, batting three-four for the New York Yankees, exceeded that total only twice. They had 347 combined RBIs in 1931, when Gehrig set the American League mark with 184, and 339 for the fabled 1927 Murderers Row lineup many consider the best all-time. The fact that neither player comes out of the lineup gives them a legitimate shot at accomplishing big things individually and together. Fielder has played in 398 consecutive games the games longest current Iron Man streak and Cabrera has missed only two games since 2011. Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run on Tuesday, but still has a double-digit RBI lead on everyone in the majors despite not getting one in this game. And his .370 average also is comfortably ahead of the pack. If Cabrera can catch Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis in the home run race, he could become the first to win consecutive Triple Crowns and the third to win a pair. The others were Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams. The players hes challenging and taking up company with are some of the games greatest ever. Hes in that different league, Maddon said. Cabreras 139 RBIs last year were the most in his career. That was a result of his walk total dropping from 108 in 2011 to 66 with Fielder joining the lineup. Cabrera has 30 walks this year, but Fielder is ahead with 35. If No. 5 hitter Victor Martinez, who seems to be swinging better every game, regains his 100-RBI touch, Cabrera and Fielder could give Ruth and Gehrig a run for their money. So, Cabrera isnt chasing ghosts alone. And when pursuing the record for knocking in the most runs, thats the only way to travel.
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