Is Cabrera's run greatest in history?

Miguel Cabrera is near the lead in all Triple Crown categories for second consecutive season, joining Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson in exclusive company perhaps bound for Cooperstown.

In Monday night's Yankees-Orioles game at Camden Yards, New York's Robinson Cano and Baltimore's Chris Davis each hit their 13th home run of the season, giving them the share of the AL lead. But it's a guy sitting two home runs behind them, and who didn't even play on Monday, making all the headlines — again.

With his three-homer game at Texas on Sunday night, Miguel Cabrera’s bid to repeat as the American League Triple Crown winner got a lot more serious, and gained renewed attention.

While he trails Cano and Davis by two home runs, Cabrera leads the AL in batting average (.387) and RBI (47). It’s only May. The odds are against Cabrera. But the mere suggestion that he has the chance is a statement by itself.

Consider this: Cabrera last season won the 12th Triple Crown since the RBI became an official statistic in 1920 — exclusive enough company, right? Well, according to STATS LLC, only three Triple Crown winners have led their league in each of the Triple Crown categories at the same point during their next season: Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson. Two homers, and Cabrera makes it four.

Williams had the latest Triple Crown lead of the group, topping all three categories through the games of Aug. 21, 1946, according to STATS LLC. (Williams won the 1942 Triple Crown before missing the next three seasons to serve in World War II.)

And if Cabrera can take the Triple Crown lead all the way through the conclusion of the season, he would become only the third player to ever win multiple Triple Crowns, joining:

Ted Williams: 1942, 1947

Rogers Hornsby: 1922, 1925

Notice something about those years? Yup, Cabrera would be the first do it in consecutive years.

Williams, Mantle and Robinson aren’t just Hall of Famers. They belong in any discussion of the greatest 10 or 20 players in baseball history (Hornsby, too, for that matter). Cabrera is on course for Cooperstown — perhaps even inclusion in that company — whether he repeats as the Triple Crown winner or not.

Need more proof?

Let's revisit Sunday, when, in an 11-8 loss at Texas, Cabrera took down a legend, climbed another exclusive ladder and, for good measure, did something in the game that nobody — EVER — had done in MLB history.

First, the numbers:

4 for 4, 3 HRs, 5 RBI, 4 runs, 10 total bases — his second career 3-HR game. OK, a great day for Babe Ruth, so we're pretty sure Cabrera will take them, too.

 

Next, the milestones:

In the same evening he tied and passed Tigers legend Hank Greenberg on the career home run list. His second of the night tied Greenberg at 331. His third passed him with No. 332.

 

Now, the scary part:

He is all of 30 years, 1 month and 1 day old as of Sunday. He is one of 16 players with at least 300 home runs before his 31st birthday. Here is where he stands on the list — and just imagine how high he can get by April 18, 2014.

Rank Player HRs
1 Alex Rodriguez 464
2 Ken Griffey 438
3 Jimmie Foxx 429
4 Albert Pujols 408
5 Mickey Mantle 404
6 Eddie Mathews 399
7 Frank Robinson 373
8 Mel Ott 369
9 Andruw Jones 368
10 Hank Aaron 366
11 Juan Gonzalez 362
12 Adam Dunn 354
13 Sammy Sosa 336
14 Harmon Killebrew 336
15 Miguel Cabrera 332
NBC sports

 

And finally, the history:

According to ESPN stats, he is the 23rd player in MLB history with at least three home runs, five RBI and four runs scored in a 4-for-4 game. No history there, right? The first 22 all won the game. Cabrera is the first with that doozie of a game in a losing effort.

Nice work, Tigers.

— Jon Paul Morosi contributed to this report

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