From 1985 to 1988, Wade Boggs dominated the American League leaderboards for batting average, winning four consecutive batting titles (he had five for his career). In chronological order, Boggs hit .368, .357, .363, and .366. Pretty impressive. Boggs, also known as “Chicken Man,” is the last player in AL history to amass four or more batting titles. That is, until now.
(How did we ever watch sports without High Definition?!?)
With two games to play, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera looks set to win his fourth batting title. He currently leads Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox by 12 points (.334 to .322, respectively). His lead appears pretty safe. Let’s play a little “what if,” shall we?
We’ll assume, for the sake of the game, that Miggy and X both play today and tomorrow. Both already have the requisite 502 minimum plate appearances to qualify, so we don’t have to factor that in. I’d like to posit that if they’re both playing today and tomorrow, we’ll estimate eight at-bats for each hitter. Remember, we’re not using plate appearances, since that’s not how we do the antiquated, un-sabermetric math for average.
One way Cabrera can lose in this hypothetical situation is if he goes 0-for-8 and Bogaerts goes 8-for-8. That would flip the script, handing the title to X, putting their averages at .330 for Xander and .327 for Miggy. If Cabrera goes only 1-for-8 and X goes 7-for-8, Cabrera still wins .330 to .328. The other way Cabrera could lose his grip on the title is in the event he goes 1-for-8 and X 8-for-8. That would give Bogaerts the edge, .331 to .330 (or, more precisely, .33061889 to .33025404).
Being that baseball is never that simple, we should also consider the starting pitchers they’ll be facing over the next two games. Cabrera will be facing Erik Johnson and Frankie Montas of the Chicago White Sox. He’s hit Johnson, in six ABs, at a .167 clip and never has faced Montas. X looks to have a tougher task, as he faces the Cleveland Indians top two starters, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. In five career at-bats versus the two combined, Xander is hitless. Granted, that’s the tiniest of sample sizes, so anything could happen.
In closing, let’s look at some video of both guys being professional hitters, in case you weren’t already aware of the fact.
Do you think Miggy just decides when to go to the opposite field, like, just for kicks?
Here’s X never giving up, even when his squad is down by five runs in the 9th inning.