Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is on the verge of making baseball history as the first Latino ball player to win an MLB Triple Crown. He currently leads the American League in the three categories which make up the award: batting average, home runs and runs batted in. With two games to play, Cabrera sits at .329 with 44 home runs and 144 RBI.
To understand what Cabrera is trying to do, let’s look at Latino players who did not accomplish this feat.
The first and most obvious is outfielder Roberto Clemente. He is considered by many to be the greatest Latino ball player of them all. Clemente did just about everything a player can while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He won championships, batting titles, Most Valuable Player Awards and made multiple All-Star teams. However, Clemente was not a power hitter and never came close to winning the crown.
Then there are names such as Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez, Felix Milan and Sammy Sosa. Cepeda came close with the San Francisco Giants. In 1961, he led the National League in home runs and RBI, but finished seventh in batting average. Perez played for some great Cincinnati Reds teams in the 1970′s and didn’t do it. Milan and Sosa hit for average and power, but couldn’t win a Triple Crown
There were the three Alou Brothers. Their names are Felipe, Jesus and Matty. They got a lot of hits, but could not combine to win a Triple Crown.
All of these men played in the NL. No one has won a Triple Crown in the senior circuit since Joe Medwick did it with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1937.
The last AL player to accomplish the feat is Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski. He won it in 1967.
Latino ball players who have tried include Tony Oliva, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.
Oliva led the AL in hits five times and batting average three. Where he felt short was in the power categories.
Martinez was a great hitter who once was part of a Seattle Mariners lineup which included Ken Griffey, Jr. and Rodriguez. He could hit for average and power. No one was better at driving in the big run. Though he possessed power, Martinez did not hit many home runs.
Rodriguez has gotten two thirds of the way twice. In 2002 and 2007 he led the AL in home runs and RBI. Both seasons he finished outside of the top 10 in batting average.
If anyone was thought to have a chance, it was Ramirez. Manram had all of the attributes that Cabrera does. He could hit for average, power and drive in runs. Ramirez benefited from being a part of good hitting lineups with the Cleveland Indians and Red Sox. His best season was 1999 when he hit .333 with 44 home runs and 165 RBI. This was not enough to win the Triple Crown.
So it is left up to Cabrera to make history. He is two games away from doing it.
The Cabrera Triple Crown Chase is historic not just because he’ll be the first player in two generations to do it. It will also be because he’ll make Latino baseball history as well.