Monday, July 20

The Triple Crown: The Rest of the Story (pt. 1)

If Prince Albert thought the pressure of hosting an All-Star weekend all by himself was difficult, he's in no way going to be prepared for the full court press that will be the coverage of his quest for the Triple Crown. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian weighs in, with customary great tidbits thrown in (for example: "For [Frank] Robinson, it was the only season during his brilliant career in which he led his league in any of the Triple Crown categories").

If this quest can maintain steam into September, media outlets will begin pouring over past triple crown seasons with tons of interesting tidbits about each man that achieved the goal as well as notes from the season. With that in mind, and with a lot of help from Baseball Reference, we present the rest of the story: Triple Crown Edition. Guaranteed to make you cool when discussing baseball with anyone who knows Jeff Cirillo is the all-time batting average leader of the Milwaukee Brewers.

In 1901, when Nap Lajoie won the AL Triple Crown he hit 14 Home Runs, good enough to lead the league by two (only he and Buck Freeman hit for double digits). Last season, 122 guys hit for 15 or more in the majors (56 in the AL). Lajoie's .426 batting average still stands as the league's record and was 86 points higher than 2nd place Mike Donlin's .340 average, and was 98 points higher than last season's leader (Joe Mauer).

In 1909, Lajoie's rival, who would largely overshadow Lajoie in history, Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown with an astounding nine home runs, but all of them were inside the park. Cobb remains the only player to lead the league in home runs without hitting one out of the park. Although, Cobb's speed helped him lead the league in HRs, hits, and stolen bases, he did not lead the league in either doubles or triples.

Rogers Hornsby remains the only two-time winner of the National League Triple Crown, winning in the only two years he led the league in home runs. In both 1922 and 1925, Hornsby ran away with the award. In 1925, he led the league in RBIs by just thirteen, the closest of any category in either of the years.

1933 was the only year to have winners in both league, Jimmie Foxx in the AL and Chuck Klein in the NL. Had they played in the same league, neither would have won. Klein led the Majors in batting average, with Foxx having more homers and RBIs. In fact, Klein would've finished fourth in the home run race, behind Ruth and Gehrig. Foxx won his crown despite recording a league-leading 93 strikeouts. Foxx ran away with the AL crown, but Klein eclipsed Wally Berger by only one homer in the NL.

Lou Gehrig won not only the AL Triple Crown, but the MLB version. It was the only season that he played with Babe Ruth where he bested the Sultan in home runs. Gehrig did, however, top Ruth in both batting average and RBIs during the ten year span. Gehrig was also the first athlete to appear on a box of Wheaties.

The rest of the story on the... rest of the Triple Crown winners tomorrow.

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