Cabrera joins elite ‘Triple Crown’ club
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Miguel Cabrera last night became just the 15th player to win baseball’s “Triple Crown”—the reluctant superstar thrust into the spotlight after joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig.
The Detroit Tigers’ slugger topped the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in the majors since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Granderson had homered twice to reach 43 for the year—tied with the Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton and one shy of Cabrera.
Cabrera went 0-for-2 against the Royals before leaving in the fourth inning to a standing ovation.
He finished the regular season hitting four points higher than L.A. Angels’ rookie Mike Trout, his toughest competition for AL MVP.
Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBIs.
“I am glad that he accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title,” Yastrzemski said in a statement.
“I was fortunate enough to win this award in 1967 as part of the Red Sox Impossible Dream Team.”
Commissioner Bud Selig also offered his congratulations, calling the Triple Crown “a remarkable achievement that places him amongst an elite few in all of baseball history.”
The crowd at Kauffman Stadium gave Cabrera a standing ovation before he flied out in the first inning.
He struck out in the fourth but remained in the game, allowing Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland to remove him with two outs to another standing ovation from thousands of appreciate fans.
Cabrera high-fived his teammates as he entered the Detroit dugout, then walked back to the top step and waved his helmet.
When the feat became official, it was displayed on the centre-field scoreboard to another standing ovation.
“I would say without question he’s enjoyed it. How could you not enjoy what he’s done if you’re a baseball player?” Leyland said before the game.
“I would also add to that I doubt very much, knowing him, that he necessarily enjoys all the extra attention, and all the extra conversations he has to have,” Leyland added.
“It’s kind of out of his realm in personality, to be honest with you.”
Cabrera’s pursuit of history has occurred largely in the dark, though, overshadowed by thrilling pennant races, the sheer enormity of the NFL—even the U.S. presidential election.
An event that in other years might dominate headlines has been mostly cast aside.
“The entire baseball world should be here right now,” said Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander, the reigning AL MVP, who soon may watch that award get handed off to his teammate.
Perhaps part of the void has to do with Cabrera’s very nature.
He’s not the boisterous sort, never one to crave attention. He would rather hang out with a couple of buddies than stand in front of a pack of television cameras, answering countless questions about what makes him one of the game’s most complete hitters.
“He’s not a talkative guy,” noted Tigers’ catcher Alex Avila.
“One, he doesn’t speak English that well, but two, he lets his ability carry through.”
It takes a special breed to hit for average, power, and in clutch situations, which is why there only have been 15 players to achieve baseball’s version of the Triple Crown—an honour roll that includes iconic players such as Mantle, Williams and Gehrig.
Williams and Rogers Hornsby each accomplished the feat twice.
Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez never accomplished it, failing to win the batting title, and countless other Hall-of-Fame players have fallen short of one of sport’s rarest feats.
To put it in perspective, consider horse racing’s Triple Crown.
The last thoroughbred to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes in the same year was Affirmed in 1978—more than a full decade after Yastrzemski’s magical summer in Boston.
Whether it’s on par with Johnny Vander Meer’s consecutive no-hitters, Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championships in golf, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, or Brett Favre’s consecutive games streak at quarterback is open to interpretation, and perhaps some bar-room debate.