In the stat-happy world of Major League Baseball, one of the most illustrious personal titles is also one of the most rare. This year, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers joined the exclusive club of Triple Crown winners, leading the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44), and runs batted in (139). Amazingly, he came within only 6 percentage points in batting average of winning the major league Triple Crown.
Just how special is this achievement? The most recent winner was Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. At the time, Cabrera’s own parents were barely school-age. In the entire history of Major League Baseball, it’s been accomplished only 15 times by 13 different players: Paul Hines (1878); Tip O’Neill (1887); Nap Lajoie (1901); Ty Cobb (1909); Rogers Hornsby (1922 and 1925); Jimmie Foxx (1933); Chuck Klein (1933); Lou Gehrig (1934); Joe “Ducky” Medwick (1937); Ted Williams (1942 and 1947); Mickey Mantle (1956); Frank Robinson (1966); and the aforementioned Yastrzemski.
One more trait these players have in common: each and every one who’s won in the modern era (since the turn of the 20th Century) is a Hall of Famer.
The award, however, doesn’t make him a lock for Most Valuable Player. Out of the previous winners, only five (Foxx, Medwick, Mantle, Robinson and Yastrzemski) have also been named MVP, but it bodes well that it’s happened for the three most recent titleholders. And anyone who follows the Tigers, recognizes just how valuable he’s been. Unlike offensive powers such as Alex Rodriguez, whose lack of clutch hitting earned him the nickname “Mr. April”, Cabrera has carried the Tigers when they needed it most. He’s shouldered most of the load in the thick of a pennant race, in the heat of September.
To further place this accomplishment in perspective, it’s impressive to see how his individual seasonal numbers compare. Cabrera’s HR total of 44 ties him with Yastrzemski, but is the fourth highest overall. His .330 BA is the highest since Mantle in 1956. And you have to go all the way back to Medwick’s 154 RBIs in 1937 to top Cabrera’s 139. This Triple Crown was not cheaply earned. Cabrera’s place is firmly established within the stellar group of his predecessors.
Baseball fans are of course partial to their teams, but many outside of Detroit have long agreed that Miguel Cabrera is one of the more underrated players in the baseball. He quietly puts up MVP- caliber numbers every season.
However, with this accomplishment, his name goes in the record books for all time, cementing his place of one of the most gifted and special hitters the game has seen. Miguel Cabrera’s jewel of a season is the pinnacle of his career, en route to a Triple Crown.