Way back in 1935, Hank Greenberg set the mark for RBIs collected before the All-Star break. Hammerin’ Hank had 103 by July 8th of that year, a record that still stands. Despite a torrid first half, Greenberg inexplicably failed to make the American League All-Star squad that year.
With his two-run homer last night, the reigning Triple Crown champion Miguel Cabrera stands at 92 total RBIs so far this season, an amazing pace that puts him in Greenberg’s league. With 5 games to go before the All-Star break, Cabrera likely won’t get the 12 RBIs he’d need in order to pass Greenberg’s 1935 total, but watching him try brings back memories of the golden age of the Tigers in the 1930s and 1940s. And let’s not forget that Greenberg’s batting also lead the Tigers to a World Series victory that same year. The 2012 Tigers appeared in the World Series, but they haven’t won it since 1984.
Miguel Cabrera batting in 2012
Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr)
If you’ve seen The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, it’s no secret that there was nothing Hank liked better than to drive in runs. In the extra footage that’s on the newly re-released DVD (available at hankgreenbergfilm.org), Hank’s son Stephen Greenberg claims that his dad regretted not being able to set the record for most RBIs in a season. His 183 RBIs In 1937 places him third all time behind Lou Gehrig and Hack Wilson. While Cabrera figures to improve on his personal best of 139 from last year, Greenberg’s place near the top of that heap is probably safe, as no player has driven in over 170 runs since the 1930s (Greenberg and Gehrig were the only players to do it more than once). Bill Mead has said that Hack Wilson’s record of 191 RBIs in a season is one of baseball’s “few unbreakable records.”