MLB Notebook: Corner infielders slug for Tigers

MLB Notebook: Corner infielders slug for Tigers

MLB Notebook: Corner infielders slug for Tigers
The 1934 Philadelphia Athletics finished in fifth place in the American League, 31 games behind the pennant-winning Detroit Tigers. But the A's did have a pair of corner infielders who each qualified for the batting title and each finished the season with an OPS of at least .900, which was something that no previous AL team could say.

Third baseman Pinky Higgins posted a .901 OPS that season for Connie Mack's ballclub, which was good enough for 11th in the league, but nowhere near what first baseman Jimmie Foxx posted. Foxx ended his penultimate year in Philadelphia with a 1.102 OPS that was second in the league behind Lou Gehrig, who won the Triple Crown.

No AL team would again see its first and third sackers qualify for the batting title and each finish with a .900 OPS until 2009, when Mark Teixeira (.948 OPS) and Alex Rodriguez (.933 OPS) helped the Yankees win the AL East and ultimately the World Series.

With two regular-season contests to go in 2012, the Tigers' duo of Prince Fielder (.940) and Miguel Cabrera (1.001) are on the verge of joining that list and possibly facing Teixeira and Rodriguez in the first round of the postseason.

Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera went 4-for-5 and hit his 44th home run, leading the Tigers to a 6-3 victory over the Royals that clinched the AL Central for Detroit.

In his pursuit of the AL Triple Crown, Cabrera owns a four-point advantage over Mike Trout in the batting race (.329 to .325), leads Josh Hamilton in RBIs (137 to 127) and has one more home run than Hamilton.

The Tigers have won two consecutive division titles, a first for the franchise in the Division Era. Dating back to 1969, they won the AL East in 1972, '84 and '87, and captured the AL Central in 2011.

Prince Fielder
Fielder also collected four hits in the game, making this contest the first since July 26, 2002 in which Detroit's No. 3 and 4 hitters each recorded four knocks. In that '02 game, the Tigers' 3-4-5 hitters -- Bobby Higginson, Randall Simon and Robert Fick -- each went 4-for-5.

Fielder's four-hit day brought his slash line up to .313/.410/.529. Fielder is one of three qualifying players in the Majors to be at .300/.400/.500, joining the Giants' Buster Posey (.336/.409/.546) and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (.329/.402/.558).

Robinson Cano
Cano went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a home run, raising his extra-base hit total to 80 (tied with Albert Pujols for second most in the AL, behind Cabrera's 84). With his 80th extra-base hit, Cano joins Rogers Hornsby as the only second basemen to have at least that many in back-to-back seasons. Hornsby reached the mark in 1921-22 and '24-25, and his 102 extra-base hits in '22 are the 12th highest total in history.

Washington Nationals
The Nationals and Braves both lost, giving the National League East title to Washington. It is the first outright division title for the Expos/Nationals franchise. Montreal won the second half of the split season in 1981, and then defeated the Phillies in five games in the NL Division Series.

The is the fifth division crown for Nationals manager Davey Johnson. He led the Mets to titles in 1986 and '88, the Reds to one in '95 and the Orioles to one in '97.

Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton hit his 37th home run in the Marlins' 3-2 win over the Mets to tie Jimmie Foxx (1930), Ted Williams ('41) and Pujols (2001) for the 10th-highest total for a player in his age-22 or younger season.

Most homers in age-22 or younger season
Player Homers Year Age
Eddie Mathews 47 1953 21
Joe DiMaggio 46 1937 22
Johnny Bench 45 1970 22
Juan Gonzalez 43 1992 22
Mel Ott 42 1929 20
Alex Rodriguez 42 1998 22
Eddie Mathews 40 1954 22
Boog Powell 39 1964 22
Frank Robinson 38 1956 20
Jimmie Foxx 37 1930 22
Ted Williams 37 1941 22
Albert Pujols 37 2001 21
Giancarlo Stanton 37 2012 22

Oakland Athletics
The A's defeated the Rangers, 4-3, to clinch -- at the very least -- a spot in the Wild Card game. The Athletics' victory moved Oakland to within one game of Texas for first place in the AL West and eliminated the Rays and Angels from postseason consideration.

Coco Crisp went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and one RBI, and stole his 39th base in the Athletics' victory. The A's are 66-43 when Crisp starts the game, and 26-25 when he does not.

Mike Trout
Trout went 4-for-5 with a double, a triple and two singles, drove in three runs and scored twice.

The line marked the 12th time this season Trout has posted a two-hit, two-run, two-RBI game from the leadoff spot. Those 12 are the second most for any player since 1918, behind the 14 compiled by Nomar Garciaparra in '97.

Trout's two runs scored gave him 129 for the season, leaving him two shy of matching Williams (1939) and Vada Pinson ('59) for the third most for a player in his age-20 or younger season. Bryce Harper and his 97 runs are tied with Ty Cobb ('07) for 15th.

The 129 runs tie Trout with Bill Everitt (1895) for the fifth most since 1893 for a rookie. Roy Thomas had 137 runs in '99, Lloyd Waner had 133 in 1927, Joe DiMaggio had 132 in '36 and Williams had 131 in '39.

Trout's double and triple pushed his extra-base hit total to 64, leaving him three shy of matching Mickey Mantle's total from 1952 and Orlando Cepeda's total from '58 for the sixth most for a player in his age-20 or younger season. Harper, who had a double on Monday, is tied with Johnny Bench ('68) and Ken Griffey Jr. ('90) for the 11th most. Harper's 57 are the most for any player in his age-19 or younger season.

Albert Pujols
Pujols had a pair of hits, including his 50th double. Pujols has three 50-double seasons, tying Waner, Stan Musial and Brian Roberts for the second most in history. Tris Speaker had five such seasons, and is the leader in two-base hits with 792. Speaker had 445 doubles through his age-32 season, and Pujols has 505 at the same point in his career.

Wade Miley
As part of his first career double-digit strikeout game, Miley struck out the side on nine pitches in the third inning. Miley is the 51st pitcher to accomplish the feat, the second to do it this season and the third Diamondbacks pitcher to do it. On Aug. 16, Boston's Clay Buchholz used nine pitches in the sixth inning to fan three Orioles. The other two Diamondbacks pitchers to be in the record books for this piece of trivia are Randy Johnson (Aug. 23, 2001) and Byung-Hyun Kim (May 11, 2002).

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.