In what I think is one of the more incredible statistical feats in recent memory, San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley won the National League RBI crown on Wednesday night. While Miguel Cabrera wrapping up baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967 will certainly grab the headlines, Headley’s accomplishment was almost equally impressive.
Headley finished the season with 115 RBI, while Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun had 112. Bear in mind that Headley played half his games at Petco Park, where offense goes to die. He also accomplished the feat on a team that entered Wednesday night’s season finale ranked 25th in baseball in runs scored, 22nd in batting average and 26th in slugging percentage.
Translation: Headley didn’t get any help from his ballpark or his teammates.
The 28-year-old Tennessee product had by far the best season of his career in 2012. He also had career-highs in home runs (31), hits (171), runs (94), walks (84) and his OPS (.866) was .113 points higher than his previous career-high (.773).
What’s even more remarkable was Headley’s final two months of the season. He was undoubtedly baseball’s best hitter in August and September (and the first three days of October). Over that time he hit 19 home runs and drove in 63 runs, which is absolutely ridiculous.
He was the National League’s Player of the Month for both August and September, as he drove in 31 runs in August and 30 in September. That made him just the second player in baseball history to have 30 RBI in consecutive months. Albert Pujols also accomplished the feat in April and May of 2006.
Headley also is the first Padres player to have two 30 RBI months, not consecutively or in the same season, but ever in his Padres career. His 13 home runs at Petco Park are also one short of the single-season record of 14, set by Adrian Gonzalez in 2008.
Headley also set the single-season Petco Park record for RBI with his 51 at home in 2012.
While the Padres finished 76-86 and in fourth place in the National League West, I think it’s fair to say Headley deserves some MVP consideration. I’m not saying he deserves to win, but he should be in the conversation.