Sunday, December 20, 2009

Heavy is the Head that Wears the Triple Crown

Sandy Koufax won 3 (count 'em, 3) Triple Crowns as a pitcher. In 1963, 1965, and 1966 he led all of baseball in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. To say nothing of other statistical categories. Only Grover Alexander and Walter Johnson have equaled the feat.

But as impressive as winning the Triple Crown is, doing it as a hitter and doing it as a pitcher aren't analogous. In the last 40 years, 7 different pitchers have won the Triple Crown. Roger Clemens did it twice, making it 8 pitchers altogether. In the last 40 years, no hitter to date has won the Triple Crown (count 'em, 0).

In fact, the last man to do it was Carl Yastrzemski. That was way back in 1967. Yaz is in good company. Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Frank Robinson are all previous winners. Incidentally, Hank Greenberg led the AL in home runs and RBIs on 3 separate occasions (1935, 1940, 1946). He finished 7th in batting average in 1935 and 5th in 1940.

Al Rosen, if you can believe it, was 1 hit shy from joining this legendary list in 1953. And it's a hit that he may have actually gotten, but didn't get credit for.

Everyone knows Rosen won MVP in 1953. He led the AL in home runs (43) and RBIs (145) and finished 2nd in the batting title to Washington's Mickey Vernon. Rosen's robust .336 average missed the mark by a mere percentage point.

What everyone doesn't know is the controversy surrounding Rosen's last AB of the season and Vernon's would-be last AB. It's a good story, one you can find by following this link.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Great Al Rosen stat. The road not traveled... His name never comes up anymore either.