Kinsler, Cabrera on rare teammate 50-doubles pace
DETROIT -- Ian Kinsler came to the Tigers looking to slash the vast outfield gaps of Comerica Park for doubles. He's doing that at an incredible pace. So, too, is Miguel Cabrera, who simply came into the season looking to repeat the hitting that made him a three-time batting champ.
Not since Charlie Gehringer and Gee Walker in 1936 has a Tiger team featured two players with 50 or more doubles in a season. No team anywhere in the big leagues has done it since 2000, when Todd Helton and Jeff Cirillo topped it for the Rockies. Both Kinsler and Cabrera entered Saturday on pace for 60-double seasons.
Considering no Major League hitter has hit 60 doubles in a season since Gehringer and Joe Medwick in 1936, that pace seems unlikely to hold. Fifty, however, would be more realistic. If they can both get there, they'll have quite a feat.
Kinsler helped his pace with a trio of doubles Friday night, the first three-double game by a Tiger since Austin Jackson last Aug. 9 and the first such game at Comerica Park since Jackson did it on June 3, 2010. That put Kinsler at 17 doubles for the season, one behind Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe for the AL lead entering Saturday.
Kinsler had another three-double game as a rookie back on July 2, 2006, before he emerged as a power hitter. He arrived in Spring Training with a goal to get back to his younger form.
"I want to get back to [being] more of a line-drive-type hitter, a guy that's on base a lot more and gives the guys behind me a lot more opportunities to drive in runs," Kinsler said in February. "[Comerica Park is] spacious. You get a ball past an outfielder in that ballpark, you should be looking for three regardless of what line it's on."
He hasn't tripled yet, but he's already more than halfway to last season's total of 31 doubles. He set a career high with 42 doubles two years ago. Eleven of his doubles for the year have come this month.
Cabrera, by contrast, has a 50-double season on his resume, having hit the exact tally with the 2006 Marlins. He threatened it in 2011 before finishing with 48, part of a string of three consecutive 40-double seasons that ended last year. He doubled just 26 times in 2013, mainly because injuries limited him to singles and homers.
Only one Tiger since Gehringer has topped 30 doubles by the All-Star break. Magglio Ordonez went into the break in 2007 with 35. He finished with a league-high total of 54.