DETROIT -- No Major League player in history had entered June with the kind of numbers Miguel Cabrera posted. So it figures that the May performance that got him there would earn Cabrera the American League Player of the Month Award, as announced on Monday.
Though the Angels' Mike Trout and Baltimore's Chris Davis also earned consideration, neither matched the numbers that Cabrera posted. The reigning Triple Crown winner and defending American League MVP batted .379 (44-for-116) with nine doubles, 12 home runs, 33 RBIs and 23 runs scored in 28 games.
No Tigers player had homered that many times in the month of May since the great Willie Horton hit 12 in 1968. No Tiger had that many hits of any kind in May since Ron LeFlore hit 45 in 1976.
It's the kind of performance that sets up players for a summer tear. In Cabrera's case, he's already in that territory. He's the first Major League player to enter June batting at least .340 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs. It's a mark with a caveat, since Major League schedules began later in April up until the last few decades, but it's an incredible pace in a time when offensive numbers have generally been down.
It's also a pace that has Cabrera's manager, Jim Leyland, running out of superlatives to use to describe his slugging third baseman.
"The best part about it is, he has fun doing it," Leyland said. "He just does it. I mean, he just plays. When he's serious in that batter's box, he's pretty special. When he's serious in that batter's box, he's scary."
Among Cabrera's single-game feats that got him there were his three-homer effort in a nationally televised game against the Rangers on May 19, a 4-for-4, six-RBI performance against the Astros on May 4 in Houston, an 11-game hitting streak that ended on May 13 and a 12-game hitting streak that began the next day.
Cabrera went hitless just twice in 28 games for the month. The only game he didn't reach base safely was a May 13 Tigers win over the Astros at Comerica Park.
"He's fun to watch," Leyland said. "It's an honor, really, to watch that every day. That's not even a thrill. That's an honor to watch that every day."
With 65 RBIs through 55 games, Cabrera is on pace for 191 RBIs for the season, which would match Hank Wilson's Major League record set with the 1930 Cubs. The pace would shatter Lou Gehrig's AL record of 184 with the 1931 Yankees.
Cabrera is nearly 40 percent of the way toward Manny Ramirez's 165 RBIs in 1999, the highest total by a Major League hitter since World War II, and he's well on his way to breaking the 100-RBI mark by the All-Star break next month.
Those kind of numbers have Cabrera set to grab the national spotlight this summer. Cabrera, however, said on Saturday that the lessons learned during last September's Triple Crown chase taught him how to handle the attention.
"I try to keep focused on what we want," Cabrera said. "I try to win games. I don't get distracted about what people say. Go out there and play your game, try to play to win and that's it. Don't try to put extra pressure on yourself and don't try to do anything else [other than what] you can do."