Miguel Cabrera is now just two games away from capturing the first MLB Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967. Now, 45 years later, the Detroit Tigers 3B is on the verge of becoming the first player to lead his league in batting average, home runs and RBI since the Boston Red Sox LF did it back in 1967.
In a way, Cabrera’s could be with even more authority.
I am not saying that it is more impressive because his lineup is weaker, or he plays on a worse team. That is not the case. But Cabrera has a chance to do something that Yastrzemski did not do in 1967 when he became the last player to win the triple crown.
In 1967, in a situation similar to Cabrera, Yastrzemski was helping his Red Sox clinch a layoff spot during the final few games. In fact, Boston finished just one game ahead of the Tigers and Minnesota Twins to win the division. The Tigers also needed the final few games to clinch their division this year.
But when Yastrzemski won the triple crown, his came with a bit of an asterisk.
And no, it is not for steroids or any performance enhancing drugs. That came about 20 years later in the league and became rampant shortly afterward.
In 1967, Yaztrzemski led the American League with a .326 batting average, besting Frank Robinson in second place with .311. It was not even close.
In the RBI category, Yastrzemski finished with 121, which was eight ahead of Harmon Killebrew, who had 113 to finish second.
But in the home run race, Yaz hit 44 home runs in 1967. That was the same number that Killebrew hit that season. So, yes, technically Yastrzemski led the American League in all three triple crown departments, but he was actually tied for the overall lead in one category.
Cabrera has a chance to capture the triple crown in 2012, and could do so even cleaner.
Entering play on Tuesday, with just two games to go, Cabrera leads the A.L. with a .329 batting average, which is ahead of Mike Trout at .325 and Joe Mauer at .322. Cabrera has a 10 RBI lead over Josh Hamilton, 137-127, and has all but locked that race up barring another monster game from Hamilton.
But Cabrera is also just one home run ahead of Hamilton, leading him 44-43. Edwin Encarnacion has 42 home runs, with Curtis Granderson and Adam Dunn sitting with 41 home runs. That will be the closest race with the most candidates still in the hunt.
If Cabrera can lead the league in all three statistics, without finishing tied with Trout for average or Hamilton for home runs, can it then be said that his triple crown will be more impressive than Yastrzemski’s back in 1967? It will certainly be up for debate.