There are a number of players who will be chasing prestigious Major League Baseball records over the next ten days, and one of those players might achieve something that hasn’t been done in almost a half century.
First, let’s talk pitchers. On Saturday September 22nd Washington Nationals starter Geo Gonzalez (19-8) will go for his 20th win– an achievement reached by only 11 pitchers over the previous five years.
Three other pitchers also have an outside shot at 20 wins: the Mets’ R.A. Dickey (18-6), the Angels’ Jered Weaver (18-4), and Tampa Bay’s David Price (18-5). With 196 strikeouts Gonzalez also looks like a lock to surpass 200 strikeouts.
The potentially historic moment involves Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who could become the first player in 45 years to win the elusive Triple Crown– leading either League in battting average, RBI, and home runs. Boston left fielder Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to win a Triple Crown, in 1967. Only 15 players in the history of the game have won the Triple Crown, making it one of the singular achievements is all of professional sports.
Cabrera is currently first in the American League in RBI with 130 (Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers has 123); first in AL batting average with .333 (Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angel is hitting .324); and second in AL home runs with 41 (Josh Hamilton has 42 homers). One of the best stories in baseball will be the real home run derby down the stretch between Cabrera and Hamilton.
But not all records and statistical achievements are noteworthy or make MLB history. In fact, some are barely even noticeable.
San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford certainly shares his team’s passion to make the playoffs, get into the 2012 World Series and come away with a World Champsionship ring. But the rookie infielder is also on another mission: Crawford wants to finish the 2012 season with at least a .250 batting average.
In 133 games and 411 ABs this season Crawford is hitting .246 with a .658 OPS, 43 RBI, and 33 extra base hits. And that’s good production from a world class-fielding shortstop.
But Brandon Crawford understands that statistics can have great symbolism for players as well as fans, and the world on the far side of a .249 batting average is dramatically different. It’s a happy, carefree world where slick fielding shortstops are officially deemed to have contributed enough at the plate to fully justify their presence in the everyday line-up.
Crawford has come a long way since he dug himself a deep offensive hole to start the 2012 season: batting .203 in April and .231 in May. June showed some improvement with a .260 average but then Crawford stumbled and fell back to .235 in July.
Then Brandon Crawford got hot and stayed hot: a .281 August was followed by a .293 September and a .871 OPS for the month.
At the same time Crawford was working to upgrade his offense he was also correcting a shaky defensive start that saw him make 12 errors in his first 60 games. In his last 70 games he’s made 3 errors. Because of Crawford’s extraordinary range and infield acrobatics many baseball insiders put him at the top of their best-shortstops-in-the-game lists.
And that’s all good, except when it comes to reaching the .250 mark. For Crawford the goal is very reachable and tantalizingly close. And he has maybe nine starts left to get it done.