How does a possible Triple Crown season sneak up on the baseball world with just two weeks to play?
Usually a year like the one Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is having -- first in the AL in batting average (.334), second in home runs (41) and first in RBIs (130) -- would dominate the headlines for months.
But for most of the season, Cabrera has been overshadowed by Angels phenom Mike Trout. The 21-year-old locked up the AL rookie of the year a long time ago and emerged as the AL MVP front-runner in the second half of the season. He's batting .327 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs while playing an above-average center field. He also leads the majors with 46 stolen bases. Trout has had one of the best rookie seasons in baseball history, but he has slowed down a bit recently, which has opened the door for Cabrera.
While Trout's batting average has dropped from .357 in mid-July to .327 now, Cabrera's average hasn't fallen below .322 since the All-Star break.
As for power numbers, Cabrera has been chasing the Rangers' Josh Hamilton for most of the year.
Helped by a four-homer, eight-RBI performance May 8, Hamilton got off to a fast start. By the end of May, he had 21 home runs and 57 RBIs.
Meanwhile, Cabrera hit only two homers in May and entered June with just nine home runs and 42 RBIs.
Cabrera's steady production over the past four months has put him in position to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1967.
But players have been in a similar position as recently as last year.
In 2011, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp led the NL in home runs (39) and RBIs (126) but hit .324 to finish third in batting average.
With just 13 games to play, Cabrera is just one homer shy of holding the AL lead in each Triple Crown category. He probably won't have to worry about going unnoticed anymore.
- Jeffrey Tomik