It’s been 45 years since Carl Yastrzemski won baseball’s last triple crown with the Boston Red Sox.
His line — 44 home runs, 121 RBIs and a .326 average — was also enough to claim the American League MVP award.
The 29-year-old third/first baseman’s numbers are staggering to say the least. He currently leads the league in average (.333) and RBIs (130) and is one home run behind Josh Hamilton with 41, and in any other year, those numbers should make him a shoe-in for the award.
But this is not any other year, and Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is not your average rookie.
The 21-year-old phenom is hitting .327 with 27 home runs, 77 RBIs and a league-leading 46 stolen bases. And in an era of statistical obsession, Trout’s 10.2 wins above replacement value (WAR) — an increasingly popular sabermetric statistic — is far and away the best in baseball. Cabrera, by comparison, ranks third at 6.5. Trout has also played 21 fewer games.
As ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield points out, Trout’s numbers look even better in context. Since 1901, only one center fielder has matched Trout’s average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home run and steals total: Willie Mays, who did it in 1957 and 1958.
If this year is any indication, Trout could be a once-in-a-generation talent. But does that make him more deserving than Cabrera this year?
“Trout is unbelievable. He really is, and I like him as a player. I like the way he does things,” Oakland A’s third baseman and former Tiger Brandon Inge told MLive.com. “But no one makes an impact on a ballclub the way that Miguel Cabrera does. Period. You don’t have a notepad long enough to write down all the things.”
In an era void of triple crowns, if Cabrera can complete the feat, should that guarantee the AL MVP? Historically, it’s no guarantee.
Since the Baseball Writers Association of American began voting on league MVPs in 1933, nine players have won the triple crown — and four of them (Chuck Klein in 1933, Lou Gehrig in 1934 and Ted Williams in 1942 and 1947) did not win MVP.
Cabrera has never won an MVP award despite finishing in the top five in voting five times. Is this the year he finally takes it, or will Trout be the trump card?
If your answer is “neither,” give us your AL MVP in the comments below!