The historic season of Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera continues. Baseball fans had better enjoy it, because we may not see it for another generation.
Cabrera made history as the first American League Triple Crown winner in MLB since Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Cabrera finished atop the leader board in the three major categories of batting average, home runs and runs batted in. His final totals of .330, 44 and 139 allowed him to accomplish something that had not been done in 45 years.
Cabrera’s Triple Crown is the first ever for a Latino ball player. His feat is more noteworthy when one considers that Hall of Fame greats such as Tony Perez, Tony Oliva and Roberto Clemente did not do it.
Since the integration of baseball in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the closest any Latino player had come to winning it was in 1961, 2002, 2007 and 2010. In 1961, San Francisco Giants outfielder Orlando Cepeda led the NL in home runs and RBI, but finished seventh in batting average. In 2002 and 2007 Alex Rodriguez led the AL in home runs and RBI as well, but fell short in batting average. St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols led the NL in home runs and RBI in 2010, but finished sixth in average.
In 2012, Cabrera became the fourth consecutive AL Triple Crown winner to lead his team to the post season. Mickey Mantle started the string by leading the New York Yankees to the World Series in 1956. Frank Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles did the same in 1966. Yastrzemski made it three straight in 1967.
Cabrera is the first Triple Crown winner since baseball expanded its playoff format in 1969. In order to keep the Triple Crown/World Series string going, Detroit had to win a five game divisional series and seven game league championship series. The Tigers defeated the Oakland Athletics and Yankees to win the pennant. Cabrera joined the elite company of Mantle, Robinson and Yastrzemski.
The only thing that Cabrera has left to do is win it all and be selected AL Most Valuable Player. Mantle, Robinson and Yastrzemski all won MVP in their Triple Crown seasons. Mantle and Robinson led their teams to victory in the World Series. Yastrzemski fell one game short as Boston was defeated by the Cardinals in seven games.
Whether the Tigers win it all or not, Cabrera has already had a season for the ages. If Detroit does win and he wins the MVP award, it would be one the likes of which have not been seen since Robinson 46 years ago.
Baseball fans had better take notice and appreciate it, because we may never see another season like it.