Back-to-back Triple Crowns in Miggy's sights
Tigers slugger entered Saturday leading Majors with .388 average, 57 RBIs
A year ago, Miguel Cabrera became the first player to claim a Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
This year, the Tigers slugger could become the first player to ever claim a Triple Crown in back-to-back seasons.
And Cabrera also would claim the 18th Triple Crown in Major League history and become only the sixth player to earn a Major League Triple Crown. Or would it be the 17th? None of the above.
If Cabrera wins a Triple Crown again this year it would be the 13th.
The statistics of baseball are inexact, at least in a historical sense.
Wikipedia lists Cabrera's 2012 season as the 17th time a player has won a Triple Crown.
Baseball-reference.com has Cabrera's season as the 16th time a player had won a Triple Crown.
Officially, however, it was only the 12th Triple Crown in Major League history.
"How could there be more than 12 if the RBI did not become an official statistic until 1920?" asked Seymour Siwoff, president of The Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician of Major League Baseball.
Kevin Hines, a member of the Elias staff, said there has been attempts over times "to go back and through researching box scores and other available information to recreate statistics, but especially when you get into the 1800s the information is scarce."
As Siwoff put it, "In the early years of baseball, let's say, the statistical part of the game was rather casual."
That is as apparent as the difference between Wikipedia and Baseball Almanac.
Wikipedia's list of Triple Crown winners includes Hugh Duffy of the Boston Beanaters as the Triple Crown winner in 1884, when he led the National League with a .440 batting average and 18 home runs, and according to Wikipedia, in RBIs with 145.
Baseball-reference.com doesn't dispute the 145 RBIs for Duffy, but it lists Sam Thompson of the 1894 Philadelphia Phillies as the National League RBIs leader with 147.
So technically, it was Rogers Hornsby in 1922, who officially became the first Triple Crown winner. Hornsby claimed his second in '25, leading the NL in home runs, batting average and RBIs again. The only other two-time winner was Ted Williams, who claimed the honor in the AL with the Boston Red Sox in 1942 and '47. Williams had only one actual season in which he played between his Triple Crown seasons, having spent 1943-45 serving in World War II.
Cabrera could not only become the first to do it in back-to-back years, he could also become the fifth player to lead the Majors in home runs, average and RBIs in the same season -- six if you count Ty Cobb, who in 1909 hit .377 with nine home runs and a listed 117 RBIs. Cabrera led the Majors last year with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs, but his AL-leading .330 batting average was second to Buster Posey, who led with NL with a .336 average for San Francisco.
Cabrera entered Saturday's action leading the Majors with a .388 average and 57 RBIs. He was second with 14 home runs -- two behind Chris Davis of Baltimore.
Those who have won Major League Triple Crowns were Mickey Mantle with the Yankees in 1956 (.353 average, 52 home runs and 130 RBIs), Williams with the Red Sox in 1942 (.356-36-137), Lou Gehrig with the Yankees in 1934 (.363-49-165), Hornsby with the Cardinals in 1925 (.403-39-143), and unofficially, Cobb with the Tigers in 1909 (.377-9-117).
There was an early rush on Triple Crown seasons. From 1922-37, six players won a Triple Crown, including 1933, when there were Triple Crown winners in both leagues, and both played for teams based in Philadelphia -- Jimmie Foxx with the Athletics in the AL and Chuck Klein with the Phillies in the NL.
Cabrera also has the possibility of a single-season RBIs record. His 57 RBIs through Friday project to 199 for the season, eight more than the all-time record that Hack Wilson set in 1930.
This and That
• Tyler Chatwood, trying to lay claim to a regular spot in the Rockies' rotation, is the first pitcher to earn back-to-back victories in games started against San Francisco and right-hander Tim Lincecum. With six shutout innings on Friday night at AT&T Park, Chatwood snapped a nine-game Rockies losing streak in the park on the Bay. Chatwood also started and won a 10-2 decision against the Giants at Coors Field on May 18.
• With Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty undergoing Tommy John surgery this week, the Braves have now had seven pitchers undergo that procedure in the last five years. Does it come with the territory of a team constantly in contention?
"You look at every bullpen of winning teams, there's heavy workloads," Braves general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That goes with the territory. When you have a team that's winning a lot of games, pitchers pitch a lot."
• The Indians are 7-2 against former Cy Young Award winners this year, the first team to beat seven former Cy Young Award winners before June 1 in a season. The Cy Young losers to the Indians include: R.A. Dickey, David Price, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Bartolo Colon, Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez. The Tribe lost to Verlander on Wednesday and to Jake Peavy on April 14.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD FACTOID OF THE WEEK
From stats guru Bill Arnold: If A's pitcher Colon refrains from uncorking a wild pitch in his scheduled start on Sunday, he will have gone 1,462 days -- since May 26, 2009 -- without being charged with a wild pitch.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.