When I see a baseball record that hasn't been broken in more than 30 years, I know it's something special. The batting Triple Crown in MLB means finishing the season first in three categories: batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
The last player to do it was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 with the Boston Red Sox. Since 1934, only seven players have ever reached this level -- which also shows how difficult this feat is. It's been exciting to watch as the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera has a chance to do it in the 2012 season.
Over the years, many players have had some great seasons and come close to winning the Triple Crown, missing out only by a slim margin. The fact that players must win all three categories makes it almost impossible as players may have a great season in one, even two categories, but winning all three is an incredible feat.
Here are five players who almost won baseball's Triple Crown:
Willie McCovey, NL, San Francisco Giants, 1969: .320 average (second), 45 home runs (first), 126 RBIs (first).
How he almost won it: Only two years after Yaz won the Triple Crown in 1967, McCovey came close to doing it, too. Pete Rose beat him out for the best batting average (.344), costing McCovey the Triple Crown.
Dick Allen, AL, Chicago White Sox, 1972: .308 average (second), 37 home runs (first), 113 RBIs (first).
How he almost won it: If it wasn't for Rod Carew, Dick Allen would have won the Triple Crown in 1972. Allen was still voted the MVP for 1972 and also led the league in walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases, making for an impressive year.
Jim Rice, AL, Boston Red Sox, 1978: .320 average (second), 46 home runs (first), 139 RBIs (first).
How he almost won it: Again, Rod Carew was the spoiler as he finished the year with MLB's top batting average, leaving Jim Rice to win homers and RBIs. Rice also led the league in hits, triples, total bases, and slugging percentage, and he won the MVP Award that year.
Barry Bonds, NL, San Francisco Giants, 2002: .370 average (first), 46 home runs (second), 110 RBIs (second).
How he almost won it: Bonds, although now tainted by PED rumors and facts, almost won the Triple Crown in 2002, but he was three homers short behind Sammy Sosa and 18 RBIs behind Lance Berkman.
Albert Pujols, NL, St. Louis Cardinals, 2003 and 2009: .359 average (first), 43 home runs (second), 124 RBIs (second).
How he almost won it: Pujols could achieve the Triple Crown in the future with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but he came close in 2003 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He had the best batting average but was four homers and 17 RBIs short. He also came close in 2009, leading the league in homers but finishing six RBIs short of both Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder, and 15 points behind the league's batting average champ, Hanley Ramirez.
Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia, which didn't make being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan easy. He has lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, now able to follow the Dodgers openly and attends games frequently. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman.
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