Miguel Cabrera's historic RBI pace

Updated: May 5, 2013, 2:48 PM ET
By Buster Olney

SAN FRANCISCO -- Let's get this out of the way: Yes, five weeks of a Major League Baseball season is a small sample size. But also remember that teams have been promoting and demoting dozens of players for weeks based on those small samples, because the talent evaluators are gauging what they expect the players to do. Because they believe that sometimes small samples become big samples of more of the same.

Roughly 20 percent of the season has been played, and some of the early-season trajectories are being established at record-challenging levels. When we say a player or a team is on pace to do something extraordinary, well, that almost always doesn't hold its course.

But there are some really interesting trend lines that threaten to intersect with history if the small samples become large samples of more of the same. Here are eight to watch:

1. Miguel Cabrera: on pace to drive in 201 runs.

He had six more RBIs Saturday night against the Astros, and now has 36 in 29 games. Because this is a statistic based on the performance of teammates, many things could prevent Cabrera from beating Hack Wilson's all-time record of 191 RBIs: slumps by the hitters in front of him, injuries or opposing pitchers choosing to work around Cabrera. There is bound to be some regression in how Cabrera is hitting with runners in scoring position, because he's hitting at an absurd pace: 23 hits in 42 at-bats, for a .548 average. He has a 1.472 OPS in those situations.