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Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has made history becoming the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did so with the Impossible Dream Red Sox in 1967.
Cabrera finished the 2012 season with a .330 batting average, 44 homeruns and 139 RBI.
Despite this there is no guarantee the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will pick Cabrera as the American League MVP.
After all, Ted Williams won the Triple Crown twice (1942 and 1947) and didn’t win the MVP either year.
Of course, in the Splendid Splinter’s case it had to with his testy relationship with baseball writers who he derisively termed “the knights of the keyboard.”
Today, it’s about sabermetrics. Brian Kenny of the MLB Network recently argued the Triple Crown is nonsense. Kenny writes:
As Cabrera has vaulted to the top of several random categories, a quaint bit of nostalgia has come roaring back to blind those still clinging to the stats rooted in the Civil War-era tabulations: the Triple Crown.
It’s not that batting average, homeruns and RBIs are meaningless. It’s just that they are nowhere near the three most important offensive categories in baseball.
But these are offensive categories that are understood by every baseball fan and baseball fans understand that it is exceedingly rare for a single player to lead in all three categories in a single season. Since the end of the Second World War, only The Splendid Splinter, Yaz, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson have done it. Williams, Mantle and Robinson are in the top ten of anyone who has ever played the game and Yaz isn’t that far behind them. Needless to say, I saw all of their plaques in Cooperstown
Cabrera has the chance to be in Cooperstown. He is 29 and is at the peak of his career. In ten big league seasons, he is a career .318 hitter with 321 homeruns and 1,123 RBIs. He has 1,802 hits. I would not be shocked if he reaches 3,000 hits at the age of 35.
Besides if we take Kenny’s argument to its logical conclusion if someone comes along and hits .400 then you can also argue that achievement wouldn’t be important because batting average is a mere “Civil War-era tabulation.”
Kenny argues that rookie sensation Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is a better candidate with his defensive abilities and his baserunning prowess. However, the Angels aren’t in the post-season and the Tigers are. So I think the BBWAA will have a harder time voting against Cabrera.
Still, if you ask Cabrera, I’m sure he’ll take a World Series ring over a MVP trophy three times over.
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H/T to National Review Online