Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Odds on a Triple Crown Winner Being MVP

What are the odds on a Triple Crown Winner such as Miguel Cabrera being the league's MVP? Oh, about 50-50. Am I kidding? No.

After a season in which he hit .330, knocked in 129 runs, and belted 43 home runs Cabrera should be a shoe-in for MVP. Right? After all, Frank Robinson won the Triple Crown in 1966 and he was the AL MVP. And Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in 1967 and he was the AL MVP.  But before that ... well, it didn't always happen. 

After the creation of the MVP Award in 1931 Jimmy Foxx had the first chance to win it as a Triple Crown winner in 1933, and he did. But that same year Chuck Klein hit.368 and won the Triple Crown in the National League and he lost out to Carl Hubbell. Perhaps it was because Klein led the NL with just 28 home runs, more likely it was because Hubbell was brilliant with an ERA of just 1.66 which was pretty amazing in the 30's.

Surely that wouldn't happen again though. Well, strangely enough there was another Triple Crown winner the next year - in the American League. Lou Gehrig went 49, 165 .363. That was a pretty good year even for Lou. He finished fifth in the voting ! Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, and Schoolboy Rowe of the pennant-winning Tigers got more votes and so did teammate Lefty Gomez.

In 1937 Joe Medwick of the St. Louis Gas House Gang had 31 homers and 154 runs batted in and hit .374. He narrowly beat out Gabby Hartnett, the Chicago Cubs catcher.

Ted Williams won the Triple Crown in 1942. He hit 36 home runs, scored 141 runs, batted in 137, and hit .356 (albeit fifty points lower than the year before).  That year Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon scored 88 runs, hit 18 home runs, and batted in 103 runs. He hit .322 (54 points below Williams) and was named MVP. Gordon did lead the league in one category, however. He grounded into the most double plays (22).  Note: I'm not making this stuff up.

After serving in WWII for three years Williams came back in 1946 and hit .342 (2 points less than his lifetime average) with 38 homers and was named MVP. In 1947 Ted hit 32 home runs, knocked in 114 and hit .343. He did not win the MVP Award. He tied Yankee first baseman George McQuinn (18, 80, .304) with three first place votes. But Joe Dimaggio won it - with eight first place votes. Dimaggio hit 20 home runs, knocked in 97, and hit .315. He actually had a much better season the next year (39, 155 both league bests and .320) and of course was not the MVP, Lou Boudreau was. 

Of course two things worked against Williams. His team rarely won the pennant, which was a big factor for the voters, and he was not a great fielder. In 1956 another Yankee center fielder, this time Mickey Mantle had a pretty good year (52, 130, .353). He got all 24 first place MVP votes.

What about Cabrera's chances this year? I would say he has a very good chance of winning, especially since his team win the pennant. But there is this kid who is probably going to beat out Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes (23, 82, .292 in 129 games) for Rookie of the Year and he may beat out Cabrera for MVP. 

When Mike Trout joined the Angels on April 28th they were wallowing at 6-14. Albert Pujols had had a brutal first month. From that point on, with Trout, Anaheim went .585, the best record in the AL. Trout became the first player ever to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases, and score 125 runs. He also became the first player ever to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases, and bat .320. That's ever!

And Trout is a human highlight reel in center field, while Miguel Cabrera, a converted first baseman, had the fourth most errors at the hot corner in the AL. Oh, and Trout had a higher On Base Percentage.

Looks like Miguel may suffer the Triple Crown curse.

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