Miguel Cabrera: Chasing Triple Crown history
Baseball doesn’t capture our imagination much anymore, which explains why the nation is not nightly glued to the television, awaiting the results of Miguel Cabrera. The Detroit Tigers star has a shot at the Triple Crown, which hasn’t been accomplished since 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski led the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
How big was baseball back then? I can still spell Yastrzemski from memory.
From 1922 through 1967, a period of 46 seasons, baseball had 11 Triple Crown winners: Yaz in ’67, Frank Robinson in ’66, Mickey Mantle in ’56, Ted Williams in ’42 and ’47, Joe Medwick in ’37, Lou Gehrig in ’34, Chuck Klein and Jimmie Foxx in ’33 (two in the same year) and Rogers Hornsby in ’22 and ’25.
Baseball also had Triple Crown winners in ’09 (Ty Cobb), ’01 (Nap Lajoie), 1894 (Hugh Duffy), 1887 (Tip O’Neill, before becoming Speak of the House) and 1878 (Paul Hines).
But in the 44 full seasons since Yaz, no Triple Crowns.
I’m pulling for Cabrera, who with three games left in the season leads the AL in hitting at .325, two points ahead of Minnesota’s Joe Mauer and four points up on the Angels’ Mike Trout; leads the AL in RBIs with 136, nine up on the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton; and is tied with Hamilton for AL home run lead with 43, with Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion one behind.
So Cabrera will win the RBI title, has a decent shot at the batting title and who knows on home runs?
What’s interesting is that after such a long drought, this is the third straight with a Triple Crown contender.
In 2010, the Reds’ Joey Votto staged a valiant bid but fell off in the end and didn’t lead the National League in any of the categories. He finished second in batting (.324, 12 points behind Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez), third in home runs (37, Albert Pujols led with 42) and third in RBIs (113, Pujols led with 118).
But in 2011, Matt Kemp, the pride of Midwest City, staged a much closer assault on the Triple Crown. The Dodgers’ superstar tailed off the final week and finished third in batting (.324, the Mets’ Jose Reyes led at .337) but led the NL in home runs (39) and RBIs (126).
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