1/1/2013 5:41 P.M. ET
Standouts from '12 will look for repeat seasons
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
For all those who accomplished great things in 2012, the dawning of 2013 presents an opportunity to extend those accomplishments into even greater ones.
Looking around at some of the best from 2012, there's ample fodder for "What if?" questions for '13, enough to consider the possible results if some players and teams continue on the same impressive track set last year.
Such as ...
The Giants: What if they go and do it again, winning back-to-back World Series titles and three out of four? Well, you have to go back to 1921-22 for the last time a Giants team won the World Series in consecutive years, long ago in their New York days, and that was the last time they'd won two of three like they have entering 2013.
Another title would mark the first back-to-back rings for a National League team since the Reds in 1975-76, and three of four actually would be the best four-year run ever by an NL club, edging the Cardinals' three titles in five years (1942-46).
Of course, the Yankees are the last team to go for three consecutive (1998-2000), and the only to go a record five in a row, too (1949-53). But if the Giants manage to win it all again in 2013, against anticipated heavy resistance from in and out of their division, they'd have to be considered quite the dynasty, wouldn't they?
Mike Trout: We know now that the Angels' star outfielder posted the greatest rookie season in history -- that is, if you consider the first (rookie or no) season with at least a .320 average, 30 homers, 45 steals and 125 runs on one stat line to be great.
So, what if he doubles down on his .326 average, 30 homers, 49 steals and 129 runs scored? Well, that's easy -- if he approached those numbers again, that would have to be considered the best two-year start to a career, by any measure, especially taking into account his defensive prowess. But even if he doesn't quite reach those offensive marks, he's capable of establishing that standard.
Thing is, Trout's setting his own standards with his combination of speed and power. The steals you can compare to Ty Cobb, the only player to have a season with more than 40 steals by age 21. The rest of that four-stat package over a player's first two full seasons you can compare to Ted Williams (.336 average, 54 homers, 265 runs, age 20 and 21), Alex Rodriguez (.329 average, 59 homers, 241 runs age 20-21) and Albert Pujols (.321 average, 71 homers, 230 runs age 21-22) in terms of accomplishment and age to start a career.
Clearly, if after his age-21 season Trout duplicates 2012 and winds up at .326 with 60 homers, 98 steals and 258 runs scored over two seasons, he'll be in elite company historically -- with a unique burst of speed and defense, to boot.
Miguel Cabrera: The first Triple Crown since 1967 became something to be debated as much as it was celebrated, but there's no questioning that Cabrera did something rare by leading the American League in batting average, homers and RBIs. As Cabrera heads into 2013 a very viable candidate to do it again, it's worth noting no player has done it in back-to-back years.
In fact, the feat was only accomplished in back-to-back seasons at all in 1933 and '34, when Philadelphia pulled a double Triple Crown with Jimmie Foxx of the A's and Chuck Klein of the Phillies in '33 before the Yankees' Lou Gehrig followed them up in '34.
And even if he doesn't do it in '13, he's just entering his 30s, so Cabrera still could become only the third two-time Triple Crown winner, joining Williams ('42, '47) and Rogers Hornsby ('22, '25).
No-hitters: With a record-tying seven no-hitters in 2012, there's definitely a trend of pitchers barging their way through baseball's lineups without a knock. The 16 no-hitters registered in 2010-12 represent the richest three-year period for the pitching gem in baseball history. That said, it would take pitchers rolling another seven to match the best two-year period, which was the back-to-back sevens in 1990-91, for a total of 14.
One more no-no note: With Johan Santana making magic for the Mets, the Padres enter 2013 as the only franchise left without one.
Postseason streaks: With the Phillies' string of consecutive postseason appearances snapped last October at five, the Yankees could match that run with a fifth straight appearance, their four leading the postseason parity party in baseball entering 2013. On the flip side, could this be the year the longest postseason drought ends? The Royals have waited since 1985 to taste the postseason, and they have designs on stopping that streak in '13.
Award winners: One thing Trout and his explosively talented NL counterpart Bryce Harper definitely will not do in 2013 is repeat as Rookie of the Year. But Cabrera, Buster Posey, R.A. Dickey, David Price, Bob Melvin and Davey Johnson all have a chance to repeat their award-winning feats.
The most recent repeat was the NL Cy Young Awards won by Tim Lincecum in 2008-09 and Albert Pujols winning the NL MVP Award twice during that same span, but it has been awhile for the rest of them. The last AL MVP repeat was Frank Thomas in 1993-94, and the last AL Cy Young repeat was by Pedro Martinez in 1999-2000. As for the Manager of the Year Award, a repeat by Johnson would be the first in the NL since Bobby Cox in 2004-05, and a repeat by Melvin in the AL would be a first, period.
No doubt, everyone and every team that did something great in 2012 would love to repeat the deed in '13. But it's never easy, and they're all back on zero once Opening Day arrives.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.