Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Jackson, Cabrera, Fielder Best Tigers Hitting Trio Since '61

When the Tigers signed first baseman Prince Fielder in January, fans knew that he and Cabrera had a good chance to be the best Tigers batting duo in a long time.  For the most part, they have not disappointed.  Cabrera is batting .326 with 29 homers and a .978 OPS and  Fielder is hitting .310 with a .911 OPS.  The big surprise is that lead-off man Austin Jackson is right there with them batting .320 with a .915 OPS.  So, rather than compare Cabrera and Fielder to past Tigers pairs, I'm going to see where Cabrera, Fielder and Jackson rank among threesomes.

 Hitting performance can be measured by Batting Runs (BR) which was discussed in an earlier post.  In Summary, Batting Runs is the estimated number of runs a player would contribute to an average team beyond what an average player would have contributed in his place.  The Batting Runs statistic is described in more detail towards the bottom of the linked article.  (Note that "average" includes pitchers as is done at FanGraphs.comBaseball-Reference.com does not include pitchers, so their Batting Runs totals are lower.)

Cabrera has 37 Batting Runs so far this year.  So, he has contributed 37 runs above what an average player would have been expected to contribute in the same number of outs.  In addition to Cabrera, Fielder and Jackson have 26 Batting Runs apiece giving them a total of 89 Batting Runs.  Over the course of a 162 game season that would translate to 130 Batting Runs.

The Tigers all-time best Batting Runs trios are shown in Table 1 below.  The list is headed by the 1961 group of Norm Cash (90 BR), Rocky Colavito (58) and Al Kaline (44) with a total of 192.  All of the other combinations did their work prior to World War II which is generally the case when one looks at all-time best Tigers offensive producers.  Cabrera, Fielder and AJax would need to pick up their current pace to crack the all-time top ten.


  Table 1: All-Time Best Tigers Batting Runs Trio

Year
Player 1
BR
Player 2
BR
Player 3
BR
Total BR
1961
Norm Cash
90
Rocky Colavito
58
Al Kaline
44
192
1911
Ty Cobb
93
Sam Crawford
59
Jim Delahanty
35
187
1940
Hank Greenberg
78
Rudy York
57
Charlie Gehringer
37
172
1938
Hank Greenberg
79
Rudy York
45
Charlie Gehringer
45
169
1937
Hank Greenberg
79
Charlie Gehringer
56
Rudy York
34
169
1921
Harry Heilmann
65
Ty Cobb
56
Bobby Veach
35
156
1925
Harry Heilmann
59
Ty Cobb
50
Al Wingo
39
149
1917
Ty Cobb
81
Bobby Veach
43
Donie Bush
17
141
1935
Hank Greenberg
66
Charlie Gehringer
42
Mickey Cochrane
33
140
1909
Ty Cobb
73
Sam Crawford
39
Donie Bush
25
137
Data Source: Baseball-Databank.org


Table 2 displays the best Tigers Batting Runs trios since 1946.  It shows that if Cabrera, Fielder, Jackson troika continues at the same pace for the rest of the season, they would have the best total since 1961.  Other recent groups include Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco with 122 in 2007 and Cabrera, Alex Avila and Victor Martinez with 116 in 2011.

So, the Tigers current big three of Cabrera, Fielder and Jackson is in good company if they can maintain their performance and there is no reason they can't.  
  

Table 2: Best Tigers Batting Runs Trios Since 1946

Year
Player 1
BR
Player 2
BR
Player 3
BR
Total BR
1961
Norm Cash
90
Rocky Colavito
58
Al Kaline
44
192
2012
Miguel Cabrera
54*
Prince Fielder
38*
Austin Jackson
38*
131*
1959
Eddie Yost
44
Al Kaline
43
Harvey Kuenn
41
129
2007
Magglio Ordonez
62
Curtis Granderson
37
Placido Polanco
23
122
1956
Charlie Maxwell
43
Al Kaline
42
Ray Boone
35
121
2011
Miguel Cabrera
65
Alex Avila
28
Victor Martinez
23
116
1950
Vic Wertz
42
Hoot Evers
39
George Kell
34
114
1946
Hank Greenberg
52
Roy Cullenbine
44
George Kell
17
113
1967
Al Kaline
49
Bill Freehan
33
Dick McAuliffe
27
109
1962
Rocky Colavito
37
Al Kaline
35
Norm Cash
34
107
1968
Willie Horton
43
Bill Freehan
36
Jim Northrup
25
104
Data Source: Baseball-Databank.org
*Extrapolated to 162 games

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