October 3, 2012 by Matt Musico
It was an exciting last day of the regular season in Major League Baseball. We saw the Yankees secure their 13th AL East title in their last 17 seasons, but not without a valiant fight from Adam Jones and the Baltimore Orioles. We also saw the unthinkable back in February; the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers to win the AL West title. However, one thing we saw that we may not see again for a while is Miguel Cabrera winning the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did so with the Red Sox in 1967.
Winning the Triple Crown is the holy grail for hitters; it means you can do it all. Having the highest batting average, most home runs, and most RBI in your league not only gives you respect from your peers, but inevitably makes you invaluable to your team. Cabrera’s .330 batting average was good for his second straight batting title, becoming the first Tiger to win back-to-back titles in that category since a little known player named, um, Ty Cobb. To go along with that, the Detroit third baseman slugged 44 homers and drove in 139 runs, which helped the Tigers catch the White Sox and clinch the AL Central title for the second consecutive year.
If you’re wondering how many triple crowns have been won…the answer is not many. This is the 12th time a player has been on the top in each of these three categories in their league, and it’s the first time a latino-born player has accomplished such. No one has ever doubted the offensive ability that Cabrera possesses, but once he burst onto the scene and helped the Marlins win the World Series in 2003, there were plenty of questions about other aspects of his game.
His defense has never been a strong suit; he moved to third base to make way for off-season acquisition Prince Fielder, and he struggled with 13 errors, while being worth -9 runs to the Tigers this season…good thing the man knows how to hit. There have been times when his weight and dedication combined with concentration for the game has been criticized. Back in 2008, Jim Leyland challenged Cabrera to grind out every at-bat for a week, because he wanted to see the results he would get. Then, he kept taking the bet further and further, creating the monster that he is today.
Defense is a part of the game that gets overlooked from time to time, and I make sure I look at it on purpose to evaluate a player in it’s entirety. It’s a tough vote for me, but it’s one of the reasons why I would vote for Mike Trout over Miggy in the AL MVP race. However, there are very few players that I think are worth sacrificing the defense for to get offense. For the complete hitter he is, Miguel Cabrera is the one person who is totally worth it to me.
Congratulations to him on this wonderful accomplishment. As a hitter, you strive for perfection; although that will never be reached, it’s moments like these that make all of the hard work and dedication worth it. I would imagine the only other single season accomplishment for a hitter that would feel better than this would be to hit .400 in a season… we’ll see if anyone can dethrone Ted Williams next year.