MIGUEL CABRERA’S TRIPLE CROWN AND OTHER INTERESTING THOUGHTS ON MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 2012.
How can any sportswriters voting for this season’s American League MVP Award not vote for Miguel Cabrera?Certainly, Mike Trout has a stellar rookie season, but at the end of the season his stats were headed south while Cabrera’s got noticably better. Additonally, after a slow start, the Detroit Tigers made the playoffs and with a two games to zero lead over the Yankees, look like a very good bet to be one of this year’s World Series participent.
Miguel Cabrera won this year’s triple crown for the American League – the first triple crown winner in 45 years – and Carl Yastrzemski’s 1967 Triple Crown was somewhat tainted in that he tied for the league lead in homeruns with Harmon Killebrew who hit his 44 homers in 32 less official plate appearances.
While some people in the “Mike Trout for MVP” camp tout Trout’s excellent fielding skills and league leading stolen base skills, the plain truth is that Trout had his sensational season in the wrong year to win the MVP. A new statisitical category, wins above replacement player (WAR) shows Trout to have the highest mark in the major leagues, but this statisical category is simply a last gasp stat to be championed when virtually all other statistics favor other players.
For much of this season, Cabrera was barely in the top ten among home run leaders in the American League and he trailed Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers for most of the season before his late season hitting heroics allowed him to surge to the top of this year’s home run hitters, win the major league RBI title by a comfortable margin of 11 over Hamilton (139 to 128).
Hopefully, the baseball writers will do the right thing and keep Ted Williams as the last Triple Crown winner to not win that year’s MVP Award. In fact, William’s did it twice winning the crown in 1942 and 1947, but finishing second in the MVP races to Yankee players Joe Gordon in 1942 and Joe DiMaggio in 1947.
A number of players (6) hit at least 45 doubles this season with the Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals hitting 51 and Aramis Ramirez of the Milwaukee Brewers and Albert Pujols of the LA Angels hitting 50 each. However, despite missing 51 games, Joey Votto of the Reds hit 44 doubles and managed to average a double per every 8.5 official plate appearances. Had Votto maintained his double-hitting prowess through 578 official plate appearances, he would have had 68 doubles, topping the existing record of 67 doubles set by the Red Sox’s Earl Webb way back in 1931.
Further evidence of Votto’s double-hitting prowess is that this year’s doubles leader, Alex Gordon averaged 13.2 official plate appearances per double. In other words, Votto his his doubles this year at a 55 percent higher rate than did Gordon. In fact, if Votto had the same number of official plate appearances as did Gordon (672), he would have had 79 doubles.
In some cases, a player hits more doubles after they lose their home run power. Let’s hope that is not the case with a fully healthy Votto.
Also, somewhat interesting is the fact that this year, despite no one hitting more than Cabrera’s 44 home runs, a total of 27 players hit at least 30 home runs. Whether this will prove to be a single-season abberation, or a result of stronger, bigger players and a reduced use of steroids and other enhancements will remain to be seen.