During the 10th year of his eye-catching career, Detroit Tigers' third baseman Miguel Cabrera became the first player to capture baseball's "Triple Crown" since 1967. With a .330 average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBI in 2012, Cabrera topped the American League in all 3 categories. Additionally, his home runs and RBI exceeded any individual total in the National League, though Buster Posey did surpass Cabrera's batting average with a .336 mark.
14 players in baseball history have now experienced a total of 16 Triple Crown seasons. Of these historic performances, only 5 witnessed a single winner leading all of baseball in each of the 3 major statistics. As a result, one can isolate these instances as possibly representing the most dominant individual seasons ever recorded.
Here are the 5 players who supplanted all competitors in each category during their Triple Crown efforts:
Mickey Mantle (1956): In the 6th year of his legendary career for the New York Yankees, Mickey Mantle truly sat on top of the baseball world in 1956. Claiming his first of 3 career MVP awards, the centerfielder further became the first player in 9 years to capture the Triple Crown. Mantle led the majors with a .353 batting average, 52 home runs, and 130 RBI, while further topping both leagues in runs scored and slugging percentage. When the regular season ended, "The Mick" stayed hot by slugging 3 homers to help the Yanks triumph in a classic 7 game World Series over the cross-town Brooklyn Dodgers. Mantle's 52 home runs are the most ever posted during a Triple Crown campaign.Ted Williams (1942): Who knows how many more accomplishments might have been racked up by Ted Williams if the Boston Red Sox outfielder had not missed 3 years due to military service during World War 2? Just a year after becoming the last player to exceed .400 with a lofty .406 batting average in 1941, Williams dominantly claimed his first Triple Crown. In just his 4th season, the lefty topped MLB at the tender age of 24 with a .356 average, 36 home runs, and 137 RBI. Williams further paced all of baseball in walks, runs scored, slugging, and on-base percentage. Despite his absence from the game, this all-time great hitter returned to capture a second career Triple Crown in 1947.Lou Gehrig (1934): During a golden age of the Triple Crown, 4 different players managed the feat from 1933-1937. Indeed, both the American League and the National League were topped by a Triple Crown winner in 1933. Yet, no effort was quite as impressive as Lou Gehrig in 1934. The Yankee first baseman led all of baseball with a .363 average, 49 home runs, and 165 RBI, as well posting best overall totals in both on-base and slugging percentages. Though it became the most ever produced during a Triple Crown campaign, Gehrig's 165 RBI were only the 4th best total of his career. Indeed, followers were spoiled by the greatness of the "Iron Horse," since Gehrig somehow placed 5th in the voting for the 1934 A.L. MVP.
Rogers Hornsby (1925): Hornsby is the only other player to win multiple Triple Crowns and he incredibly did so with a batting average in excess of .400 both times. In 1925, the St. Louis Cardinals' second baseman topped both leagues with a .403 average, 39 home runs, and 143 RBI. Like most of these all-time greats, Hornsby further led baseball in both on-base and slugging percentages, as he captured his first career MVP award. Interestingly, the Texan replaced longtime manager Branch Rickey early in the year and posted a 64-51 record as a player-manager for the Cards during the historic 1925 season. "The Rajah" could certainly do it all.
Ty Cobb (1909): In an unmatched 24 year career, Ty Cobb captured a mind-boggling 11 batting titles. However, the Detroit Tigers' outfielder only claimed 1 home run title during the small ball era and it came in 1909's Triple Crown effort. Competing in his 5th professional season, Cobb became the 4th player in history to accomplish the goal, but was the 1st to lead both leagues in all categories. In 1909, the "Georgia Peach" was best with a .377 batting average, 9 home runs, and 107 RBI. Cobb further became the only Triple Crown winner to top MLB in stolen bases with 76 steals. The 22 year-old helped led his Tigers to the World Series in 1909, where the team lost for the 3rd consecutive year. Despite 4,189 hits, Cobb never earned a championship in his prolific career.
Yahoo! Sports, Baseball-Reference.com.
More by Jeff Briscoe from Yahoo! Contributor Network:
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