Miguel Cabrera: Triple Crown Champion = All-Time Great?
Miguel Cabrera was at the front of headlines moving into the 2012 MLB post-season as a man who had accomplished a feat that seem as difficult to accomplish as Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting-streak. As the first winner of the triple crown in almost 50-years the press surrounding him was probably well deserved. We know have two questions before us:
- Does this mean that Cabrera is all but assured the AL MVP?
- Where does this accomplishment situate him in the hall of MLB greats?
To answer question one first (re: Does this mean that Cabrera is all but assured the AL MVP?) I think anyone who knows anything about baseball would probably agree that most certainly does deserve the AL MVP award. Triple Crown or no Triple Crown, Cabrera’s regular seasons statistics were impressive to say the least and on their own would likely merit an MVP award: .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 Runs Batted In. If you look at who else you could make a case for MVP, maybe Josh Hamilton or Mike Trout? Realistically however, neither of these guys were really even close to Cabrera across all three categories.
The hype that has built around this accomplishment also won’t hurt his cause. Given that it is the Baseball Writers Association of America that decides who takes home the MVP award, I think most of those who are voting will have a hard time forgetting the biggest story at the end of the season.
So, Cabrera will win the AL MVP. We’ve established that. Great. Now I will try to answer question number 2: Where does this accomplishment situate him in the hall of MLB greats?
The answer to this question is: somewhere. Too ambiguous for you? Let me explain…
The triple crown is a huge feat to accomplish, and Cabrera did it in style in a very competitive league. As I mentioned before, it hasn’t been done in 45 years since last accomplished by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and not done in the same fashion as Cabrera (no ties in any of three categories) since Frank Robinson in 1966. That said, it is a feat that has been accomplished sixteen times prior to Cabrera doing it this season. Granted the game was a little different for those other sixteen winners, in fact up until this latest drought of triple crown winners there used to be one ever five-to-seven years or so. That said, I still have difficulty mentioning Cabrera’s name in the sentence as Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx and Rogers Hornsby.
So, let’s go beyond this past season and look at what Cabrera has accomplished as a player to-date. Career-wise he has a .318 batting average (impressive), 321 career home runs (good, but still pretty far back of the all-time leaders), 1,123 all-time RBIs (decent positioning on the all-time list). These points aside, he’s also accomplished the following: seven-time all-star, three-time sliver slugger, two-time AL home-run champion, two-time RBI champion, two-time AL batting champion. These are some pretty impressive statistics to say the least, and make him a player that can’t be ignored as someone who is well above-average in terms of their regular season play.
My biggest problem is that we live in the age steroids, so it’s really hard to believe that anyone has accomplished anything in baseball these days in the same way that players of yore did. So, can I put Miguel Cabrera in the all-time greats list for this? Maybe not. Does this mean that he shouldn’t be listed as one of the great players of this era of baseball – definitely not.
He has still accomplished a lot, and I don’t want to take anything away from what he has done. Cabrera can be mentioned with names like George Brett and Dave Winfield, but I can’t see him being ever seen in the same light as Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle… well, his personal issues may put him close to Cobb on some levels, but that’s another story.
… and that is the last word.