More on Cabrera

A colleague wrote to me about my last blog, claiming that Miguel Cabrera’s feat this season was an “incredibly weak” Triple Crown. Huh?

A Triple Crown is a Triple Crown. That analysis just defies the vagaries of everything coming together correctly in a given year and is a reason why the statistical analysis only goes so far.

Here’s what I consider to be the best season of all time: In 1921, Babe Ruth hit .378 with 59 homers and 171 RBIs, but he didn’t win the Triple Crown. He led in homers and RBIs and the 59 homers was by far the single season record at the time. But the .378 average was not good enough. Harry Heilmann hit .394.

Was Ruth better than Cabrera comparing 1921 to 2012? You bet, statistically, although you have to take into account the differences of playing in the eras. Just like you have to do that when comparing different decades. No blacks, changes in bullpens, no DH, higher mounds prior to 1969, dead baseballs, the division system, no night baseball, no airplane travel, wool uniforms, smaller leagues. You name it.

Cabrera had the best numbers he needed to win the Triple Crown this season. There’s no such thing as a “weak” Triple Crown. In 1967, Carl Yastrzemski hit .326 and tied Harmon Killebrew with 44 homers. He had 121 RBIs. All those marks were either matched or bettered by Cabrera this year. I don’t remember anyone calling the Yaz Triple Crown weak back then. Why would anyone call Cabrera’s weak now? Similarly to the Tigers, the Red Sox won the pennant late in ’67 and lost in the World Series. Yaz was the MVP.

2 Comments

The reason so many people think this Triple Crown is over-blown is that the Tigers were playing in arguably the worst division in baseball, against some of the worst pitching in the game last year. Lets face it, only one other team in the AL Central managed to rise above a .500 winning percentage, and the Tigers still fell short of 90 wins in the regular season. They barely pulled it out against the rookie Athletics, and then showed the Yankees age, yes, but they folded against the the Giants’ superior pitching in 4 straight, recording only 6 runs. Hypothetically, if the Tigers played in the AL West, they finish in 4th place, assuming they manage to overcome the Mariners. Still, I get your point, the MLB Triple Crown is an incredibly difficult feat to achieve. I think one of the reasons it is generating such scrutiny this year is that it overshadowed one of the greatest rookie seasons the world has ever seen, and was undoubtedly the reason that Cabrera was given the MVP over Trout. Because of that the circumstances of the Crown are being dissected. I mean it’s not too often that we see Ty Cobb’s rookie records falling, and I have heard plenty of writers state that the MVP vote would have gone to Trout had 2012 not been his rookie year (?!?).

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