Miguel Cabrera Wins Baseball’s Triple Crown

October 10, 2012

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The lack of coverage of the Triple Crown in the American League this year is total proof that baseball is no longer America’s Pastime. Instead baseball has been relegated to American history.

The only Triple Crown most anyone knows about outside of baseball aficionados is that involving the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

The king of the hill is now clearly the juggernaut known as football. American’s crave the gladiator style, fast paced action that only football can bring. Baseball in comparison is slow with action, the fielders stand around the entire time except when the ball is put into play. The antics of the batter box and the pitchers have delayed the games even more. Also baseball has gotten too specialized, no longer do players pitch complete games nor play double headers that often. No, baseball is no longer the game of a by-gone radio era, it is now made for TV entertainment, although not many are watching.

It Was a Very Good Year……

The last Triple Crown winner was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Yaz’s meteoric climb to popularity was due to a number of factors.

First he played for the Boston Red Sox. Not that the Beantowners were as popular back in the 50’s and 60’s as they are today, but remember baseball had much fewer teams then, and Boston was one of the more popular teams, mainly due to the heavily populated Northeast.

Second, Yaz also followed Ted Williams, arguably the best hitter of all time and surely on everyone’s list as a starter on any All-Time baseball team you want to put together. Williams left an irreplaceable hole in the hearts of Boston fans. After all he had won the MVP twice, was a two time triple crown winner and 19 time all-star. Yaz would never be able to replace Williams, but he did his best to try.

Thirdly Yaz played his entire career with the Red Sox, and was an 18 time all-star, won the MVP and Triple Crown in 1967 and is a member of the 3000 hit club. The 1967 season is the main reason he is still revered in Massachusetts. 1967 was a magical season for the normally down-trodden Sox, and added to the allure of Yastrzemski popularity.

The Red Sox finished 9th place in the division the year before, and were in a tight race with the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers as the season came to a close. He hit an amazing .521 with 5 homers and 16 rbi in the last two weeks of the season propelling the Sox to the World Series where they eventually lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. Yaz was the main that almost single handedly carried Boston all the way to the title, and the fans never forgot that.

Pride or Prejudice?

Cabrera faces a slug of uphill factors in his chance to cash in on this monumental accomplishment. The media is not giving it much coverage because, let’s face it, Detroit is not a sexy baseball town, and he does not speak English as his primary language. I am surprised that no sports reporters have mentioned this fact. We all like to claim that things such as race and prejudice no longer have a place in sports or society today, but the reality is they still do. It will be interesting to see how the people who vote on the MVP will choose this year. They have a tough decision.

Mike Trout, of the Angels is getting just as much if not more media attention this year in the face of the biggest accomplishments in the Major Leagues in almost 5 decades. Mike Trout is 21 years old, is an American and looks to have a bright future ahead of him. He has done some things this year that put him on the list of all-time greatest seasons. Will he get the nod for the MVP vote, or will it be Cabrera?

Only 12 people have ever won a triple crown. That is less than the number of 500 Home Run club members, 3000 hit listers, 300 game winners and pitchers that have thrown perfect games.

Four times the Triple Crown Winner has not also won the MVP award. The last time that happened, Ted Williams lost out to Joe DiMaggio in 1947.

Only the votes remain, it will be an interest ballot to be cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Until next time, stay classy Millville, Ohio

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Should Mike Trout Win the MVP?

September 26, 2012

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 Angels rookie sensation Mike Trout has been a trendy pick for the American League MVP for a few months now.  Recently, however, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers has picked up steam as he has a shot at winning the triple crown (batting average, home runs, RBI).  Here are how the players stack up in those categories (note: Cabrera has 66 more at bats).

  Trout Cabrera
Average .324 .329
Homers 28 42
RBI 78 133

 

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 21:  Mike Trout #27 of th...

Mike Trout

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 21:   Miguel Cabre...

Miguel Cabrera

Supporters of Cabrera point out the fact that Cabrera is leading Trout in all three categories, while Trout “just” leads in WAR (wins above replacement) – which he leads by a dominating margin.  While certainly WAR is not the perfect statistic, it’s a far better indicator of a player’s value than the triple crown stats are.  Cabrera has 50 more RBI than Trout.  Well, yeah.  He’s batting #3 in the lineup and Trout is batting leadoff.  There will be more players on base for Cabrera to drive in.  There have been 427 runners on base for Cabrera and 284 on base for Trout.  Trout has driven in 50/284 (17.6%) and Cabrera has driven in 91/427 (21.3%).  Still an edge to Cabrera, but much smaller.  RBI is as much a factor of the other players on your team as your own ability.  Throw me into the middle of the Rangers lineup and I could probably drive in 75 runs.

There are a couple of big factors that WAR accounts for and the triple crown numbers don’t:

  • Trout has 47 steals (caught 4 times) compared to 4 for Cabrera (1 caught).
  • Trout plays a premium defensive position (center field) and plays it well.  Cabrera players a corner infield position (less defensive value) and plays it poorly – so poorly that is defense costs his team wins.  There’s a huge difference between Trout’s defensive value and Cabrera’s.

The triple crown is indeed rare, but so is a 10+ WAR season.  Only two players since 1960 have posted a 10+ WAR season and failed to win the MVP that year.  Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. Just give the award to Trout.

National League Update:

The Nationals, Braves, Reds, and Giants have all clinched playoff berths.  The Reds and Giants have clinched the division, while the Nationals have a four game lead on the Braves.  The Cardinals have a 4.5 game lead on the Brewers and Dodgers in the wild card – probably a safe lead at this point in the season.

American League Update 

In the American league, zero teams have clinched a playoff spot.  In the Central, the White Sox and Tigers and tied, with the loser almost certainly left out of the playoffs.  The Yankees are 1.5 games up on Baltimore in the East.  In the West, all 8 remaining games for the Rangers are against the A’s (5 games) and Angels (3 games).  The lead the A’s by 4 games and the Angels by six games.  Any of those three teams could end up as the division champion, wild card team, or left completely out of the playoffs.  The Devil Rays are just 3 games back of the final playoff spot.  In total, eight American League teams remain in serious playoff contention in the final week of the season.

New playoff format

The playoffs are very different this year.  There is a second wild card team, and those two teams face off in a one game playoff to advance to the next round. This is commonly being referred to as the “coin flip round”.  The next round will be a five game series.  Instead of a typical 2-2-1 format (with the first two games and final game hosted by the better team) this is a 2-3 format, with the first two games hosted by the worse team.  The #1 seed in each league will actually have to wait until the end of the wild card game to know their first round opponent – and then need to jump on a plane and start the playoffs on the road, against a team that had some time off after winning the coin flip game.  The 2-3 format will only be used this year (because it’s a horrible idea) due to scheduling constraints.  MLB added the coin flip game after the regular season schedule had already been set.

World Baseball Classic

Canada and Spain won their qualifiers and advanced to the main tournament.  Canada romped through their games 11-1, 16-7, and 11-1.  Spain actually lose their second round game against Israel, but then advanced out of the loser’s bracket to face Israel in the finals.  They won that game and advanced.  The qualifiers are not true double elimination tournaments, so Israel was bounced despite only having one loss.  The other two qualifying tournaments are in November.

 

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