For the first time in 45 years, Major League Baseball has a Triple Crown winner. In 2012 Miguel Cabrera did what no player since Carl Yastrzemski had done during Boston’s Impossible Dream year in 1967.
Cabrera finished the season with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. In 1967, Yaz batted .326, smacked 44 home runs (tied with Harmon Killebrew) and knocked in 121. So if we scratch below the surface of the three vital statistics and try to put it in context, a near impossible feat given the way the game has changed over the years, who had the better year?
Both Miggy and Yaz were durable. They did their thing while taking only one day off, both players appearing in 161 games. Cabrera gets a slight edge in that he batted four points higher in 17 more plate appearances, a number that also accounts for his 18 more RBI. Yaz scored three more runs (112/109) but Cabrera had 16 more hits and nine more doubles. Yastrezemski had more speed, accounting for his four triples and 10 stolen bases to no triples and four swipes for Cabrera.
Perhaps one of the more telling stats and one that may account for Cabrera’s higher hit total was Yastrzemski’s pitch selection. In 1967 Yaz walked 91 times in contrast to Cabrera’s 66. Yaz also made contact more, striking out only 69 times to Cabrera’s 98. Yaz’s lower at bats (579) to Cabrera’s at bats (622), gets Yastrzemski the nod in on base percentage (.418 vs. 393), slugging percentage (.622 vs. .393) and on base plus slugging percentage (1.04 to .999).
Although Yastrzemski has a slight statistical and clear contextual edge, the comparison isn’t quite fair since Cabrera’s story isn’t finished. Yaz not only won the Triple Crown in 1967 but was an All-Star, AL MVP and won a gold glove. Cabrera, an All Star with both MVP and gold glove voting yet to go, can’t be fully measured. As magical as 1967 was for Yastrzemski and the Red Sox, if the Tigers win it all, Miggy is a beast and picks up the same hardware as did Yaz, the achievement when framed by history might surpass Captain Carl’s best year.
When, however, framed in the memory of a then nine year old boy growing up in Maine after heretofore watching some pretty miserable Red Sox baseball, there will never be as great a year as Carl Yastrzemski‘s 1967 classic. This is a Red Sox site, right?
The state of Maine is going quite insane
And in Vermont it’s only Yaz they want
From every state, they come to wait
To see Yastrzemski at home plate
– The Carl Yastrzemski Song
Major League Baseball Triple Crown Winners
|Year Lg||Player||Team/(BA, HR, RBI)|
|2012 AL||Miguel Cabrera||DET .330, 44 HR, 139 RBI|
|1967 AL||Carl Yastrzemski||BOS .326, 44 HR, 121 RBI|
|1966 AL||Frank Robinson||BAL .316, 49 HR, 122 RBI|
|1956 AL||Mickey Mantle||NYY .353, 52 HR, 130 RBI|
|1947 AL||Ted Williams||BOS .343, 32 HR, 114 RBI|
|1942 AL||Ted Williams||BOS .356, 36 HR, 137 RBI|
|1937 NL||Joe Medwick||STL .374, 31 HR, 154 RBI|
|1934 AL||Lou Gehrig||NYY .363, 49 HR, 165 RBI|
|1933 AL||Jimmie Foxx||PHA .356, 48 HR, 163 RBI|
|1933 NL||Chuck Klein||PHI .368, 28 HR, 120 RBI|
|1925 NL||Rogers Hornsby||STL .403, 39 HR, 143 RBI|
|1922 NL||Rogers Hornsby||STL .401, 42 HR, 152 RBI|
|1909 AL||Ty Cobb||DET .377, 9 HR, 107 RBI|
|1901 AL||Nap Lajoie||PHA .426, 14 HR, 125 RBI|
|1887 AA||Tip O’Neill||STL .435, 14 HR, 123 RBI|
|1878 NL||Paul Hines||PRO .358, 4 HR, 50 RBI|