Baseball hasn’t seen a hitting Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 and the National League has been dry since Joe Medwick in 1937. While never common, there were 13 seasons between 1901 and 1967 that saw a Triple Crown winner, a little under 10% of the time.
The traditional Triple Crown is no longer as impressive as it once was given what we know about measuring individual offensive performance and the contextual nature of RBIs. Still, it remains a milestone that is appreciated and known among nearly all fans and it is hard to win the Crown without putting together a legitimately fantastic season. While it remains unlikely that anyone accomplishes it this season, there are several interesting candidates.
The two most likely winners are both in the National League. Albert Pujols: the expected, and Joey Votto: the surprise. Votto came into play today currently atop the league in batting average with Pujols in third, seven points back. Seven points is a lot to make up in just over a month, but it is certainly doable if Votto’s runs into a string of bad luck. Meanwhile Pujols enjoys the league lead in both home runs and RBIs each by two over Votto. The edge has to go to Votto for the moment.
Finishing with the least likely of the three, Miguel Cabrera is having a fantastic season for the Tigers. Currently the AL leader in RBIs by seven over Alex Rodriguez, Cabrera should be able to relatively coast to the AL title there with A-Rod now on the disabled list. The other two legs look more difficult for Cabrera. He’s sitting 14 points behind Josh Hamilton for the batting title but even more daunting is the nine home runs by which he trails Jose Bautista. Cabrera is almost certainly not going to be able to catch Bautista, but his season at the plate remains worthy of highlighting.
Not nearly as impressive, but related to the topic at hand is the pitching version of the Triple Crown: ERA, strikeouts, and wins in which both Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright have a shot at in the NL. Halladay has 15 more strikeouts than Wainwright but Wainwright leads in both wins and ERA. Halladay, however, is right behind him in both, trailing by a single win and just four ERA points.
In a season that’s already pushing the boundaries on the historic, the first Triple Crown winner in 40 years could cement 2010 as one to remember.
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