Could three Tigers battle for the batting title?

Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and Miguel Cabrera rank among league leaders in hitting as we enter the last days of May.

Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and Miguel Cabrera rank among league leaders in hitting as we enter the last days of May.

We’re spoiled in Detroit. We get to watch Miguel Cabrera — one of the best hitters to ever swing a bat — ply his trade. The three-time batting champion is at it again, hitting over .320 and placing himself right in the hunt for a fourth straight crown. But it might not be as easy this season, and his competition may come from familiar faces — the faces of his own teammates on the Detroit Tigers.

As of Tuesday afternoon, it’s not Miggy who’s leading the league in batting, it’s the man who bats directly behind him, Victor Martinez. Martinez was hitting .341 entering Tuesday night’s game against the Athletics in Oakland. Hitting .300 is nothing unusual for VMart – he’s a career .304 hitter who has batted below .300 only twice in his nine previous full seasons. But with Cabrera not far behind and teammate Ian Kinsler also having a great season with the stick (.330 entering Tuesday’s game), the Tigers have three of the top seven batters in the American League. At this pace, the batting race could become a Detroit affair this season.

The Detroit Tigers have won more batting titles than any other franchise in baseball history. 26 times a Detroit player has captured the batting title, with Cabrera winning the last three. When it comes to hitting for a high average, the Tigers have almost always had a threat in their lineup. So far, 10 different Tigers have won the batting crown, with Ty Cobb leading the way with a dozen, followed by Harry Heilmann with four, Cabrera with three, and seven others with one a piece. Often, even when the Tigers haven’t won the crown, they’ve had batters in the upper echelon of hitters in the league.

But it’s been nearly 60 years since the Tigers have had three batters in the top 10 in batting. Could they do it in 2014? Four times in the Miggy Era, Detroit has had two batters in the top 10, but it hasn’t been since 1956 that they had three. That was when Harvey Kuenn, Charlie Maxwell, and Al Kaline did it. When we go back to the G-Men Era (1930s), the Tigers had four in the top 10 twice, in 1935 and 1937. Once we turn the dial back to the Cobb Era, we see several seasons (nine in fact) where the Tigs had as many as three players finish in the top 10 in batting average. Of course, back before expansion, with only eight teams in the league, it was easier to have multiple players in the top 10, but still, Detroit has often dominated the hitting ranks.

This season, with Cabrera’s pedigree, the career record of Martinez, and the hot start by Kinsler (who looks tailor made to hit in Comerica Park (though he’s batting .330 at home and the road thus far), the Tigers might batter their way into the top positions in the batting race.

Seasons in which multiple Tigers have finished in Top 10 in batting average

2013: Miguel Cabrera (1st), Torii Hunter (7th)

2012: Miguel Cabrera (1st), Prince Fielder (6th)

2011: Miguel Cabrera (1st), Victor Martinez (4th)

2009: Miguel Cabrera (4th), Magglio Ordonez (10th)

2008: Magglio Ordonez (5th), Placido Polanco (9th)

2007: Magglio Ordonez (1st), Placido Polanco (3rd)

2004: Ivan Rodriguez (4th), Carlos Guillen (6th)

1983: Lou Whitaker (3rd), Alan Trammell (4th)

1967: Al Kaline (3rd), Bill Freehan (9th)

1967: Al Kaline (3rd), Norm Cash (7th)

1964: Bill Freehan (6th), Al Kaline (7th)

1961: Norm Cash (1st), Al Kaline (2nd)

1959: Harvey Kuenn (1st), Al Kaline (2nd)

1959: Harvey Kuenn (3rd), Al Kaline (4th)

1956: Harvey Kuenn (3rd), Charlie Maxwell (4th), Al Kaline (8th) — 3

1955: Al Kaline (1st), Harvey Kuenn (5th)

1950: George Kell (2nd), Hoot Evers (7th)

1949: George Kell (1st), Vic Wertz (10th)

1943: Dick Wakefield (2nd), Doc Cramer (4th)

1940: Hank Greenberg (5th), Barney McCosky (6th)

1937: Charlie Gehringer (1st), Hank Greenberg (7th), Gee Walker (8th), Pete Fox (10th)  — 4

1936: Charlie Gehringer (4th), Gee Walker (6th)

1935: Charlie Gehringer (5th), Hank Greenberg (7th), Pete Fox (8th), Mickey Cochrane (9th) — 4

1934: Charlie Gehringer (2nd), Hank Greenberg (6th)

1929: Bob Fothergill (6th), Harry Heilmann (9th), Dale Alexander (10th) — 3

1927: Harry Heilmann (1st), Bob Fothergill (4th)

1926: Heinie Manush (1st), Bob Fothergill (3rd), Harry Heilmann (4th) — 3

1925: Harry Heilmann (1st), Ty Cobb (4th), Al Wingo (5th) — 3

1924: Johnny Bassler (5th), Harry Heilmann (6th)

1923: Harry Heilmann (1st), Ty Cobb (8th), Heinie Manush (10th) — 3

1922: Ty Cobb (2nd), Harry Heilmann (4th), Bobby Veach (9th) — 3

1921: Harry Heilmann (1st), Ty Cobb (2nd), Bobby Veach (9th) — 3

1919: Ty Cobb (1st), Bobby Veach (2nd), Ira Flagstead (5th), Harry Heilmann (10th) — 4

1917: Ty Cobb (1st), Bobby Veach (4th)

1916: Ty Cobb (2nd), Bobby Veach (7th)

1915: Ty Cobb (1st), Bobby Veach (6th), Sam Crawford (8th), Marty Kavanagh (10th) — 4

1914: Ty Cobb (1st), Sam Crawford (6th)

1913: Ty Cobb (1st), Sam Crawford (9th)

1912: Ty Cobb (1st), Sam Crawford (8th)

1911: Ty Cobb (1st), Sam Crawford (3rd), Jim Delahanty (6th) — 3

1910: Ty Cobb (1st), Jim Delahanty (9th)

1909: Ty Cobb (1st), Sam Crawford (5th)

1908: Ty Cobb (1st), Sam Crawford (2nd), Matty McIntyre (5th), Claude Rossman (6th) — 4

1907: Ty Cobb (1st), Sam Crawford (2nd)

1903: Sam Crawford (2nd) Jimmy Barrett (4th)