Repeating the Triple Crown

By Blaidd Drwg

Miguel Cabrera currently leads the American League in batting average (by a lot) and RBI (by a handful) and is second in HR (by a few), so I think it is safe to talk about the possibility of Miggy repeating his Triple Crown feat of 2012. The triple crown has been completed only 16 times in 125+ years of baseball and only 2 players have done it twice – Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams. It got me thinking, how close has anyone actually gotten to completing back to back Triple Crowns? Thanks to baseball-reference.com, I can take a look:

 

Player Triple Crown Year Next Season Next Season AVG Next Season HR Next Season RBI AVG Behind(Ahead) HR Behind(Ahead) RBI Behind(Ahead)
Cabrera 2012 2013 1 2 1 (.027) 5 (5)
Yastrzemski 1967 1968 1 7 8 (.011) 19 35
F Robinson 1966 1967 2 4 3 .015 14 27
Mantle 1956 1957 2 3 6 .023 8 20
Williams 1947 1948 1 6 3 (.014) 14 28
Williams 1942 1946 2 2 2 .011 6 4
Medwick 1937 1938 4 6 1 .020 15 (6)
Gehrig 1934 1935 6 3 2 .020 6 51
Foxx 1933 1934 7 2 4 .029 5 35
Klein 1933 1934 * 5 * .051 15 55
Hornsby 1925 1926 * 7 6 .036 10 27
Hornsby 1922 1923 1 5 * (.013) 24 42
Cobb 1909 1910 2 2 2 .001 2 29
Lajoie 1901 1902 1 9 * (.002) 9 56
O’Neill 1887 1888 1 9 4 (.014) 8 5
Hines 1878 1879 1 5 5 (.009) 7 10

 

A couple of notes about the chart:

  • Next season refers to the season following their Triple Crown.
  • Next season AVG, HR, RBI refers to their league rank in each category in the season following their Triple Crown. An * means they were not in the top 10 in that category.
  • AVG, HR, RBI Behind (Ahead) refers to how far behind the leader they were in the season following the Triple Crown in each category. If the number is in (), it is how far ahead of the 2nd position they were in that category.
  • Cabrera’s ranks are through August 18th.
  • Ted Williams did not play in 1943 due to military service (or 1944 or 1945, which is why I used 1946).

It is interesting that no player has really come close to repeating the Triple Crown. Ty Cobb would be the one who was probably the closest, but he was a distant 2nd in the RBI race, so it really wasn’t all that close. You could make the argument that Ted Williams was closer, but it wouldn’t technically be back to back because of the 3 year gap. I wasn’t surprised to find that BA was the category that the player was most likely to lead the league in the next season, but it was a bit surprising to find that no triple crown player lead the league in HR the next season. I have a feeling that for most of these guys, their Triple Crown season represented their career year, which would go a long way to explaining that.

Can Miggy do it? It will be a fun ride over the next month and a half to find out.

2 thoughts on “Repeating the Triple Crown

  1. So it’s the Home Runs that gets them, with the corresponding lack of RBI’s.

    I’d be interested to compare the HR season-to-season for the former Triple Crown Winner to see if it’s a decline in his HR’s or somebody else having a big year, or a bit of both.

    I’m going to guess that the HR’s decline by 10-20% in the 2nd year *and* somebody else has a big year.

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  2. If I remember correctly, in most cases, the triple crown year was a career year for HR for the guy who managed the crown. One of the more interesting stats I came across was Lou Gehrig and his 1935 RBI total. Gehrig finished 3rd in HR (tied behind Foxx and Greenberg, both of whom hit 36 HR) and 2nd in RBI. Six players drove in at least 110 runs that year, 5 of them between 110 and 119 (Gehrig had 119). The sixth? Hank Greenberg with a mutant RBI total of 170.

    Maybe I will have to revisit the home run totals. Just to see. I suspect that Mantle, Williams and Robinson all mere much closer to their career avg season in HR’s than the other guys.

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