Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is the first man since 1967 to win an MLB Triple Crown. The last three to do it won American League Most Valuable Player and helped get their teams to the World Series. Cabrera is in the MVP discussion and the Tigers are in the 2012 post season which gives him a chance to make it four straight.
In 1956 Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees won the crown. He finished the season with a .353 batting average, 52 home runs and 130 runs batted in. Mantle also led the league in total bases with 376 and runs scored with 132. As was almost the norm then New York won the American League pennant by nine games over the Cleveland Indians. The Mick won his first of back to back MVP awards.
In the World Series, Mantle batted .250 with three home runs and four RBI. It was his fourth inning homer that gave pitcher Don Larsen the run he needed while pitching a perfect game six. New York defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games to win the world’s championship.
Ten years later, Frank Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles became the first African-American to win the Triple Crown. In 1966 he led the AL with a .316 average, 49 home runs and 122 RBI. Like Mantle, Robinson led the league in total bases with 367 and runs scored with 122. The Orioles won the pennant by nine games over the Minnesota Twins. Robinson was named AL MVP. Along with his NL award won with the Cincinnati Reds in 1961 this made him the first and only man to win MVP in both leagues.
In the World Series, Robinson batted .286 with two home runs and three RBI. He hit a home run in his first at bat to kick start the Orioles to a four game sweep over the Los Angeles Dodgers. His solo home run in game four clinched the series and earned him the MVP.
One year later, Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox became the last man before Cabrera to win the Triple Crown. In 1967 he led the AL with a .326 average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI. Like Mantle and Robinson, Yastrzemski led the league in total bases with 360 and runs scored with 112. In one of the greatest pennant races of all-time the Red Sox won the AL by one game over Detroit and the Minnesota Twins. Yastrzemski was named MVP for the only time in his career.
In the World Series he stayed hot. Yastrzemski batted .400 with three home runs and five RBI. This effort was not enough as Boston fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
Now it is Cabrera’s turn. He finished the 2012 season at .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI. His road to the World Series will be a little tougher than that of Mantle, Robinson and Yastrzemski. Cabrera and the Tigers must win a league and championship series to get there. When Mantle, Robinson and Yastrzemski won their Triple Crowns post season play consisted only of the World Series.
On the opposite side of the coin Cabrera and the Tigers did not finish with the best record in the AL. If not for divisions and playoffs he would not be in the post season as six teams finished with better records than Detroit.
Because of the changing times Cabrera has a chance to join these greats and that is all anyone can ask.
He can become the fourth straight Triple Crown winner to win AL MVP and take his team to the World Series.