Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

Baseball Triple Crown

In Faculty, Research on October 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm

by Stan Rothman, professor of Mathematics

Baseball historians analyze the great baseball feats established by very special players. In my book Sandlot Stats I devote two entire chapters to two of these feats both accomplished in 1941. That year Ted Williams (.406) was the last player to bat over .400 for a season and Joe DiMaggio accomplished his 56-game hitting streak. Since 1941, the closest to reaching these two marks were: Pete Rose’s 44 game hitting streak in 1978 and Tony Gwynn’s .394 batting average in 1994.

This leads me to another special feat which was last accomplished in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski. That feat, called winning the Triple Crown, is leading the league in batting average (AVG), home runs (HRs), and runs-batted-in (RBIs) in one season. Since 1900 only eleven different players have achieved the Triple Crown. Since 1967, the closest a player has come to achieving the Triple Crown was Henry Aaron who led the league in HRs and RBIs in 1963. However, his .319 AVG was second to Tommy Davis’s league leading .326 AVG.

Of the three batting titles comprising the Triple Crown, the hardest pair, called Double Crowns, to achieve is the pair consisting of HRs and AVG. In fact, since 1900, excluding the Triple Crown winners, there have only been four Double Crown (HRs and AVG) winners. These include Heinie Zimmerman (1912), Babe Ruth (1924), Johnny Mize (1939), and Ted Williams (1941). Since Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice, he stands alone as the only player to win both the batting title and home run title three times. The last player to accomplish this special Double Crown was Carl Yastrzemski (1967). The most common Double Crown, accomplished over 90 times, is leading the league in HRs and RBIs.

 
A good candidate for the Triple Crown is a player who has achieved a Career Triple Crown. A Career Triple Crown winner is a player who in some year, not necessarily the same year, won a batting title, won a HR title and won a RBI title. Since 1913, there have been only 11 such winners who have not won the Triple Crown in one season. In the “Interesting Facts” Chapter 3 on my website www.sandlotstats.com is a list of those players that achieved the Career Triple Crown before 2009. Since 2009, the two players to achieve the Career Triple Crown are Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. If Josh Hamilton wins the HR title in 2012 he will also achieve the Career Triple Crown.
 
This leads to my candidates for the next Triple Crown. First, I am looking at players who have already achieved the Career Triple Crown. Choice number one is Miguel Cabrera. As of this writing, Cabrera leads the league in batting and RBIs but is one home run behind Josh Hamilton. The fact that Cabrera is 29 years old and in his prime years makes him my number one candidate for the Triple Crown. If he fails this year my prediction is he will win the Triple Crown sometime in the next few years. Albert Pujols, who is 32 years old, is slipping past his prime years. Other candidates include Josh Hamilton, who is injury prone. The 20 year old Mike Trout is hitting over .320 in 2012 and I believe his power numbers will come as he gets older. The 28 year old Ryan Braun is leading the league in HRs and RBIs in 2012 and finished second in AVG in 2011.
Editors Note: This article was originally published in Stan Rothman’s blog, Sandlot Stats, at http://apps.sandlotstats.com/Blog/?d=09/2012. Miguel Cabrera did achieve the Triple Crown in the 2012 season. 
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