Chasing Maris: Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, and the Triple Crown

Gregory Shamus

Davis is slowing down, but that might mean we're looking at another Triple Crown opportunity for Cabrera.

The race to beat Roger Maris' longstanding American League record of 61 home runs in a season has become somewhat less intriguing of late, but at the same time, has seen some added wrinkles to keep our attention. Chris Davis, the Baltimore Orioles' slugger with 47 homers to his credit through 130 games, remains at a believable pace, but is running out of time and games to close the gap. Between that and the recent surge of Miguel Cabrera, though, we suddenly have something new to keep our attention: Cabrera's chase for consecutive Triple Crowns.

It's the backup plan at the moment, as Cabrera is at 43 homers with just 29 games left to Davis' 31, but, just as it's within the realm of possibility that Davis exceeds or matches 61 homers, Cabrera could overtake his nemesis and capture just the second Triple Crown since 1967. Cabrera currently leads in batting average (.357 to Mike Trout's .332) and RBI (130 to Davis' 120), but needs the home run title to once again sweep the three.

Granted, the Triple Crown is more curiosity than anything, but unlike in 2012, when Cabrera was arguably not even the best hitter in the AL, he's without a doubt on top in 2013. His 201 OPS+ leads the American League, and towers above last year's 165 effort. In addition to the stats he's leading above, he's also atop the class in on-base percentage, slugging, total bases, hits, runs, OPS, wOBA, wRC+ -- whatever you want to throw out there to measure offensive performance, Cabrera is leading it. This one feels a lot more deserved, at least historically.

If Cabrera goes on a home run tear, and Davis doesn't slip any further with regards to power, all of a sudden we're looking at two players who could take a go at Maris' record. That's hard to imagine at the moment, though: Cabrera would need to hit 19 homers in the next 29 games, and even Cabrera has his limits. He's on pace for 52 at present, and has 55 homers in the last 365 days, or 158 games.

As alluded to above, Davis is slipping a bit, but with 47 after a homer on Wednesday, is still on pace for 58. A good week could push him back to where he needs to be, but it's going to need to happen soon, as there are only so many weeks left in the season with August leaving us shortly.

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