By - Jaquan Murphy
Miguel Cabrera achieved one of the most difficult feats in all of sports this season.
It had been 45 years since a man could boast that he led his league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Well, Cabrera successfully sleighed that three-headed statistical monster and walked away with the American League Triple Crown.
|Photo by: Ed Zurga|
Nowadays, with so many hitters only excelling at either hitting for power or high average, it seems like it could be another half-century before someone else joins Cabrera in this very exclusive club.
Still, there are a few guys out there that could put together seasons that might cut down on the wait.
Here are some of the players that have a legitimate shot to wear the crown next.
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees: Don't you know? Robbie Cano has only hit under .300 twice in his 7-year career. His power numbers have been steadily on the rise, tallying a career-high 33 dingers this season. Batting in the heart of an always potent lineup will give him a chance to easily accumulate over 120 RBIs a year, and if the Yankees can acquire a bat to consistently protect Cano so he sees a few more pitches to hit over the course of a season, he could certainly put together a Triple Crown year.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers: With the departure of his partner in crime, Prince Fielder, Braun answered any people who questioned if he was still an elite hitter without another bona fide slugger in the lineup. All Braun did was set career-highs in home runs and runs batted in this season. He showed this year that he can put up massive numbers as the centerpiece of the lineup. With a career average of .313, only one season under 100 RBIs, and power numbers that continue to rise, there is no reason to think that Braun can't be a Triple Crown contender.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: Yes, Trout could be a one-hit wonder. He could have had this one amazing year and now completely fall off the map. But let's just assume he's the real deal. 30 homers, 83 RBIs, and a .326 batting average in his rookie campaign. An abbreviated rookie campaign at that. With time will come familiarity with the pitchers, and the knowledge of how pitchers want to pitch to him. That will only make him an even more dangerous hitter, and make him even more of a contender for the Triple Crown.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels: One of the best hitters of this generation, Pujols always has and always will be a threat to win the Triple Crown. He has never hit under 30 home runs in a season, and only has two seasons in which he hit under .300 -- this year most likely due to the transition from the National League to the American. A solid lineup should allow Pujols to bat with plenty of chances to drive in runs, so he could definitely contend for the Triple Crown for years to come.
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: One of the most talented hitters in all of baseball, Hamilton can not be slept on in a Triple Crown discussion. A career .304 average and over 30 homers and 100 RBIs in every season he has seen at least 500 plate appearances shows that Hamilton is fully capable of putting up huge numbers. Needless to say, the key will be can he stay healthy and focused for an entire season so he can reach his full statistical potential as a hitter.
While Miguel Cabrera should be praised and celebrated for compiling a historic season, I wouldn't be shocked if one of these players mimic what Cabrera did this season -- next year.
And who knows, Miguel may decide on an encore performance and do it all over again in 2013.
It's a time where hitters are better than ever. While anything is possible, it's unlikely that there will be another 45 year drought between Triple Crown winners.
Don't be surprised if one of the aforementioned players etches his name into hitting immortality in the near future.