When Carl Yastrzemski put the finishing touches on his Triple Crown season of 1967, he knew he had done something special. What he did not know was that his feat would not be duplicated for at least the next four decades. This season, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and little known Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez are making some serious bids for entry into the Triple Crown club. It is rare to have even one player seriously threaten to complete the feat of leading the league in batting average, RBIs and HRs. To have three in one season, in the same league, is truly noteworthy.
What makes the race even more interesting is that two of the players, the Reds Votto and Cardinals Pujols, are battling it out for the NL Central crown entering September. The Reds and Votto are leading by five games as of August 29th. This makes the race even more interesting entering the final portion of the season.
Here is a look at each player, along with the arguments for and against their chances of winning the Triple Crown:
Why Votto Should Win the Triple Crown
Joey Votto is simply knocking the hide off the baseball, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Currently, he is second in batting average at .325, third in homers with 32, and second in RBIs with 93. He is directly behind the leaders in all three categories, and momentum is certainly on his side. His swing is perfectly suited to being consistent, and the Reds are leading the Central so confidence is running high.
Why Votto Won’t Win the Triple Crown
Votto has little working against him other than simple odds and Albert Pujols. Pujols is capable of huge bursts of power and could easily distance himself from the crowd rather quickly. Still, Votto is capable of similar feats. Long odds of the Triple Crown is the only real roadblock for Votto.
Why Pujols Should Win the Triple Crown
Pujols is the most established of all the players on this list. He has done more damage to opposing pitchers for longer than anyone, so he will not have the traditional slumps in all likelihood. He has the best swing in the game, and he can put up huge numbers quickly.
Why Pujols Won’t Win the Triple Crown
Like Votto, Pujols is primarily hampered only by the odds. Pujols does have one other issue, however – his Cardinal teammates are not playing nearly as well as the high scoring Reds. This could mean fewer chances to drive in runs over the final month of the season, though this could change.
Why Gonzalez Should Win the Triple Crown
Gonzalez is certainly capable of sneaking in and stealing the title. He is consistent and hits for a solid average all the time. He certainly could also play spoiler for the other two by winning the batting title out from under them. He currently leads Votto by a single point.
Why Gonzalez Won’t Win the Triple Crown
Power is likely to get in the way. While Gonzalez is certainly capable of the regular long ball, it is not likely that he will outdistance some of the other names on the list. Adam Dunn, Pujols, Votto and others are much more likely to finish ahead of Gonzalez.
Prediction for What Will Happen
As hard to imagine as it may be, I think that the Reds Joey Votto will become the first Triple Crown winner since Yaz in 1967. Of all the players, I think that he is best set up for the last couple of months. Part of this is due to his talent, and part of it is due to the fact that his teammates are scoring runs and giving him plenty of chances.
Regardless, this is a season to remember thanks to all three of these great players.
A double dose of Triple Crown bids