DETROIT — Miguel Cabrera flashed his playful, boyish grin when pressed to explain how he’s doing what just some of the game’s greats have done.
“Magic,” he said, sitting in front of his locker as a handful of reporters encircled him.
While even those who watch the Detroit Tigers on a daily basis struggle to describe what Cabrera is doing and those on opposing teams can only marvel, Cabrera is creating his own place in baseball history.
Despite 50 years of experience in professional baseball, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he hasn’t seen anyone do what Cabrera is doing at the plate.
There’s a reason for that. No one has seen it.
Cabrera is the only player in major league history with at least 1,962 hits, 410 doubles, 361 homers and 1,243 RBIs at the age of 30 years and 4 months, according to STATS LLC.
The reigning Triple Crown winner has a shot to become baseball’s first player to lead a league in batting average, home runs and RBIs in consecutive seasons. Only Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby have twice won Triple Crowns in a career — Williams in 1947 and 1942; Hornsby in 1925 and 1922.
The defending AL MVP, whose banged-up body got a much-needed day of rest Monday, is leading the major leagues with a .360 average and 120 RBIs. Cabrera’s 40 homers trail only Baltimore’s Chris Davis, who hit his 45th Sunday.
“He’s the best player in baseball,” Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Maybe it is, but that might not be good enough to catch Davis to pull off an unprecedented feat with back-to-back Triple Crowns.
Cabrera became baseball’s first Triple Crown winner last year since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 by hitting .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs for the AL Central-division winning Tigers. Cabrera could easily surpass his home run totals from last year, and still not catch Davis.