Sports

Triple Crown No M.V.P. Guarantee

Some exciting pennant races remain, Stephen Strasburg has been shut down for the season, Josh Hamilton has a problem with caffeine . . . and yet one of the most compelling baseball stories of the past week has involved the eventual balloting for American League MVP.

Miguel Cabrera might become the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown, and still he might not win the MVP award. Inconceivable?!? Not exactly. The Triple Crown has never been a lock-solid, unimpeded path to the MVP:

— In 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski became the last player to win the Triple Crown, he wasn’t a unanimous MVP pick (OK, OK, he got 19 of the 20 votes).

— Ted Williams TWICE won the Triple Crown without winning the MVP award. In 1947, he received only three of the 24 first-place votes — the same number as the Yankees’ George McQuinn — and he finished second in the voting to Joe DiMaggio. In 1942, Williams won the Triple Crown but finished second in the balloting to Yankees’ second baseman Joe Gordon. That’s not to mention 1941, when Williams batted .406 but lost the MVP vote to DiMaggio.

— In 1934, Lou Gehrig won the Triple Crown and finished FIFTH in the MVP balloting in what might have been the closest five-way vote in history. Mickey Cochrane finished first with 67 points, followed by Charlie Gehringer with 65, Lefty Gomez with 60, Schoolboy Rowe with 59, and Gehrig with 54.

— In 1933, Chuck Klein won the Triple Crown and finished a distant second to Carl Hubbell in MVP voting. The fact that Klein’s Phillies went 60-92 and finished seventh in an eight-team league might have had something to do with that.

So, since the MVP awards in their current format were first handed out in 1931, nine players have won the Triple Crown and four of them were not named MVP. Granted, those were a long, long time ago, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Cabrera to lead the league in batting, home runs, and RBI and not be the MVP.

Should he win it? Or should Mike Trout be the AL MVP? We’ll post some thoughts about that in a little bit.