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YASTRZEMSKI: TRIPLE CROWN WITHIN REACH OF CABRERA
Tue, 02 Oct 2012 02:30 AM EDT

Miguel Cabrera’s drive sailed high into the Detroit night – so high, in fact, that left fielder Alex Gordon had enough time to drift over to the fence and wait a pair seconds before reaching over and robbing the slugger of a home run.

That image was a good example of why nobody has won baseball’s Triple Crown in 45 years. It needs a special mix of power, discipline, and consistency – and yes, luck, if you believe in such a thing. But Cabrera is making perhaps the strongest bid since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1967.

With 6 games remaining, Detroit’s 29-year-old 3rd baseman tops the AL in batting average and RBIs and trails home run leader Josh Hamilton by only one.

”I heard a lot from the fans about the Triple Crown. I cannot repeat most of it, but I’m sure you can guess,” declared Gordon, the Kansas City outfielder who did his part to slow Cabrera’s pursuit by taking that homer away last Wednesday night. ”Miguel puts up these numbers each year, so it isn’t a surprise that he has a chance at the Triple Crown. I believe that, some year, he’ll possibly do it. He’s just a phenomenal hitter, and he’s respected by everyone in the game.”

Cabrera won his 1st batting title last year, hitting .344 to complete a ”career triple crown” after winning home run and RBI titles in previous seasons. Now he’s making an attempt to become the 1st player since Yastrzemski to sweep all 3 categories at the very same time. Since 1967, the Triple Crown has been even more slippery in baseball than in horse-racing.

Yastrzemski figures it’s only a matter of time before somebody new joins the club. Since his Triple Crown season, other seemingly distant marks have been surpassed. Baseball scores

”When Rose broke Cobb’s hit record, I never imagined that would happen,” Yastrzemski said. ”When Ripken broke Gehrig’s uninterrupted game record, I didn’t think that would happen either. So it should happen.”

In 1967, Yastrzemski hit .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBIs – a feat moderately surpassed at the time by a memorable pennant race in which his Boston Red Sox outlasted Detroit and Minnesota by a single game. Cabrera is in a similar spot. The Tigers are in a tense race with the Chicago White Sox on top of the American League Central.

After Thursday’s 5-4 superiority over KC, Cabrera is hitting .326 with 42 homers and 133 RBIs.

”I want to keep my game the same way,” Cabrera said recently. ”I don’t really want to put extra pressure because we’ve got lots of pressure right now in our division. I believe it will be a big mistake if I put extra pressure on myself.”

Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby both won the Triple Crown twice. Frank Robinson did it the year before Yastrzemski, making the drought that followed far more striking.

Since Yastrzemski’s Triple Crown, a player has finished on top of his league in 2 of the 3 classes 45 times. That makes some sense, since a good power hitter can rack up homers and RBIs at the same time.


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