Major league baseball has a rich history of personal achievements, milestones, and awards. One of the most challenging awards for any baseball player to achieve is the Triple Crown. So what exactly is a triple crown winner, how many are there in history, and more? Find out more below!
What is the Batting Triple Crown in Baseball?
A triple crown winner is an American League or National League individual who leads the league with the highest batting average, most home runs, and the most RBI totals. If a player leads the MLB in these three stat lines, they receive the Major League triple crown award. Achieving this award is extremely difficult because hitting for power and average is rare.
How Rare is it to Win the Batting Triple Crown Award?
As of August 2021, only seventeen players have received the Triple Crown Award. Here is a list of some of the latest Triple Crown award winners to show how rare this accomplishment is. If you want the complete list of some baseball hall of fame players to achieve this, you can head to Baseball-Reference.
- Miguel Cabrera in 2012 for the Detroit Tigers (.330 average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBI’s)
- Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 for the Boston Red Sox (.326 average, 44 home runs, and 121 RBI’s)
- Frank Robinson in 1966 for the Baltimore Orioles (.316 average, 49 home runs, and 122 RBI’s)
- Mickey Mantle in 1956 for the New York Yankees (.353 average, 52 home runs, and 130 RBI’s)
- Ted Williams in 1947 for the Boston Red Sox (.343 average, 32 home runs, and 114 RBI’s)
Is the MLB Triple Crown Award for Hitters a Good Award?
Some might argue that only measuring home runs shouldn’t be the way to determine the best hitter in the league. One advanced metrics, baseball OPS, is more valuable because that factors in the quality of getting on base via walks. Walks might not seem that important, but you can look at 2004 and what happened to Barry Bonds.
In 2004, Barry Bonds broke the record for intentional walks in a season with 120. Teams would rather walk Barry Bonds than pitch to him, which should be a factor for the best hitter. Without getting the chance to hit 120 times, Barry Bonds would not lead the league in the traditional three categories for the triple crown.
Still, baseball players won the MLB triple crown and the MVP that season, so sometimes the award recognizes the best hitter. Some players to win both prizes include Jimmie Foxx, Joe Medwick, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, and Miguel Cabrera.
Has Anyone Won the Triple Crown Twice for Hitters?
The only two players to win the triple crown twice are Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams. Rogers Hornsby accomplished this twice in his career in 1922 and 1925 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ted Williams was able to achieve the award twice in 1942 and 1947 with the Boston Red Sox.
What is the Batting Quadruple Crown Award?
The batting quadruple crown award adds one more element against the traditional triple crown award. The extra stat line in the quadruple crown award has the most hits in the league. Therefore to win the quadruple crown award, you need to have the most hits, highest batting average, most home runs, and RBI’s in one season.
What is the Pitching Triple Crown?
While the traditional batting triple crown award is for hitting, baseball also recognizes a pitching triple crown for pitchers. The pitching triple crown award represents leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average in one season. While strikeouts and ERA are something a pitcher can control, wins are sometimes out of their control.
How Rare is it to Win the Pitching Triple Crown Award?
The pitching triple crown award has had 28 unique winners as of August 2021. Below is a list of some of the most recent winners of this award with their stat lines. If you want the complete list, you can visit MLB.com to see all the splits.
- Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians (8 wins, 1.63 ERA, 122 k’s)
- Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers (24 wins, 2.40 ERA, 250 k’s )
- Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (21 wins, 2.28 ERA, 248 k’s)
- Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres (19 wins, 2.54 ERA, 245 k’s)
- Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins (19 wins, 2.77 ERA, 245 k’s)
Is the MLB Triple Crown Award for Pitchers a Good Award?
One common complaint about the pitching triple crown award is the wins column as a requirement. A pitcher getting wins relies on their offense scoring enough runs and their bullpen not blowing the lead in the game. Unlike the hitting award that is almost 100% on the hitter, the pitching award has to rely on more factors outside a pitcher’s control.
Another complaint about this award is from advanced stats showing that baseball WHIP indicates the best pitcher in the league. For example, a pitcher like Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets throws a .554 WHIP as of August 2021. He won’t win the triple crown award because he won’t have the most wins in a season, but most baseball fans and players will agree he is the best pitcher in the game. Unfortunately, deGrom doesn’t get enough run support from his offense, so the winning metric is misleading in showing the best pitcher.
Still, baseball pitchers won the MLB pitching triple crown and the MVP that season. Some players to win both awards include Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser, Sandy Koufax, and Justin Verlander.
In summary, having a triple crown season as a hitter or pitcher is difficult to achieve. While some stats fans might argue shouldn’t matter as much, like wins for a pitcher, the award’s history is most important for the game. From the first hitting triple crown hitter, Paul Hines in 1878, to Tommy Bond in 1877 winning the first pitching triple crown, baseball history and tradition is still what makes this award so meaningful.