How Have MLB Triple Crown Winners Performed The Season After?
Miguel Cabrera Accepts Baseball's Triple Crown From Bud Selig and Frank Robinson
Detroit Tigers fist baseman Miguel Cabrera will be trying to perform an encore after winning the first MLB Triple Crown since 1967 in 2012. It is pretty safe to say that his chances of doing it in 2013 are slim and none. No one in the AL or NL has ever won the Triple Crown which consists of batting average, home runs and RBI two years in a row.
There has never been a back to back Triple Crown winner, but the 14 men who have won it did pretty well the following season. Though most of them cooled off and did not lead in any of the crown's categories almost all of them had productive seasons, even the men who won it twice.
Cabrera joined some pretty elite company last season when he won the Triple Crown. He even set himself apart by becoming the first Latin American to do it. His place in history is secure and now ancient. It is time for Cabrera to perform again.
Here is a look at how the Triple Crown winners who preceded him fared in their follow up seasons.
Paul Hines, Providence Grays, (NL) 1878-79
Hines became the first ever Triple Crown winner in 1878 by batting .358 with 4 home runs and 58 RBI. He was just as productive in 1879 batting .357 with 2 home runs and 57 RBI. Hines also led the league in hits that season with 146.
Hugh Duffy, Boston Beaneaters, (NL) 1894-95
Duffy won the Triple Crown by having a career year in which he hit .438 with 18 home runs and 145 RBI, huge numbers in the dead ball era. This made him the last Triple Crown winner of the 19th century. Though Duffy's numbers went down in 1895, he still hit a solid .352 with 9 home runs and 100 RBI.
Napolean Lajoie, Philadelphia Athletics (AL), 1901-02
Lajoie won the Triple Crown in the AL's first year of existence batting .422 with 14 home runs and 125 RBI. 1902 was a strange season for Lajoie. He played one game for Philadelphia before being sold to Cleveland. Lajoie played in only 87 games and hit .366 with 7 home runs and 65 RBI.
Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers (AL) 1909-10
What did Cobb not do as a hitter? In 1909, he won the Triple Crown with a .377 average, 9 home runs and 107 RBI. All of this while leading Detroit to its third consecutive AL pennant. Of course, he followed this up by winning his fourth of nine consecutive batting titles and hit .385 with 9 home runs and 91 RBI.
Heinie Zimmerman, Chicago Cubs (NL), 1912-13
Probably the least known of the 20th century winners, Zimmerman batted .372 with 14 home runs and 103 RBI. Along the way he garnered 207 hits. In 1913, Zimmerman had only 140 hits and finished with a .313 average, 9 home runs and 95 RBI.
Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals (NL), 1922-23
The first of Hornsby's two Triple Crowns came in 1922 when he batted .401 with 42 home runs and 152 RBI. Not even the great Babe Ruth could much him that season. Hornsby only played in 107 games in 1923 and finished at .384 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI.
Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals (NL), 1925-26
In his second Triple Crown season, Horsnby became the only player-manager to accomplish the feat as he batted .403 with 39 home runs and 143 RBI. Hornsby's 1926 numbers were .317, 11 and 93. His on field production may not have been Triple Crown worthy that season, but Hornsby made up for it by leading the Cardinals to a World Series victory over the New York Yankees.
Chuck Klein, Philadelphia Phillies (NL), 1933-34
Klein won the NL Triple Crown with a .368 average, 28 home runs and 120 RBI. His Philadelphia Athletics counterpart Jimmie Foxx accomplished the feat in the AL making 1933 the only year that there were Triple Crown winners in both leagues. After the season, Klein was traded to the Chicago Cubs for three players and cash. There would be no Triple Crown in Chi town as he hit .301 with 20 home runs and 80 RBI.
Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics (AL), 1933-34
Foxx won his half of the Philadelphia Triple Crown with a .356, 48 and 163 season. The Maryland strong boy came back to hit .334 with 44 home runs and 130 RBI in 1934, a tremendous year. Unfortunately for Foxx some guy nicknamed The Iron Horse decided to have a Triple Crown season of his own.
Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees (AL), 1934-35
Gehrig did something that his much more famous former teammate Babe Ruth never did. He won the Triple Crown in 1934 (taking it away from the previous year's winner Jimmie Foxx) with a .363, 49, 165 season. The Iron Horse followed this up with a .329, 30, 119 year. Ironically the greatest dynasty in sports did not win the pennant in either season.
Joe Medwick, St. Louis Cardinals (NL), 1937-38
Medwick is the last NL Triple Crown winner. He accomplished the feat by batting .374 with 31 home runs and 154 RBI. The next season, Medwick led the NL in RBI with 122 and hit .322 with 21 home runs. Not bad for a guy nicknamed Ducky.
Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox (AL), 1942-46
Williams' 1942 Triple Crown is interesting in that it is largely forgotten by the .406 batting average he put up in 1941 making him the last man to hit above .400. In 1942 while being criticized for not serving his country in World War II, Williams won the crown with a .356, 36, 137 season. Williams joined the military after the season and did not return until 1946. In his delayed encore season, Williams batted .342 with 38 home runs and 123 RBI while leading Boston to an AL pennant.
Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox (AL), 1947-48
Because of his military stint Williams won the Triple Crown two times in three active seasons and joined Horsnby as the only men to win it twice. His 1947 numbers were .343, 32 and 114. The average went up in 1948 as he batted .369 while hitting 25 home runs and driving in 127.
Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees (AL), 1956-57
In 1956 Mantle may have had his best season as he became the only switch hitter to win the Triple Crown. He led the AL with a .353, 52, 130 season. This earned him MVP honors and helped the Yankees win their fist World Series in three years. More known for his power, Mantle actually hit for a higher average of .365 in 1957. His power numbers went down as Mantle hit 34 home runs and drove in 94 runs.
Frank Robinson, Baltimore Orioles (AL), 1966-67
Robinson came over to the AL in a trade with the NL Cincinnati Reds. In his first season, he adjusted nicely by winning the crown with a .316, 49, 122 season. This was good enough to earn Robinson MVP honors as he led Baltimore to its first World Series title. 1967 was not as kind as Robinson was hit in the head by a pitch and missed 33 games. He finished the year with a .311 average, 30 home runs and 94 RBI.
Carl Yastrzemski, Boston Red Sox (AL), 1967-68
The man who took the Triple Crown away from Frank Robinson was Carl Yastrzemski. In a magical 1967, he literally carried Boston to the AL pennant. Yastrzemski batted .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI. He did not win the crown in 1968, but in the year of the pitcher Yastrzemski led the AL in average again as he was the only man in the league to hit above .300 at .301. His power numbers decreased as well as he finished with 23 homers and 74 RBI.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (AL), 2012-13
If history is any indication, the first Triple Crown winner of the 21st century will hit above .300, swat more than 20 home runs and drive in around 100 RBI just as his predecessors. However, almost all of his numbers will come down from the previous year. Only time will tell where Cabrera's Triple Crown follow up season compares to the 16 before him.