There is now one week left in the 2012 season and Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is poised to be the first player in 45 years to capture baseball’s elusive triple crown.
Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to earn the triple crown in 1967, and no player in the National League has won it since Joe Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1937.
As of today, Cabrera has a .329 average, 42 home runs, and 133 RBI, with seven games remaining. He leads two of the three categories, but only trails Texas Rangers' slugger Josh Hamilton by one home run.
Much of the feat will rest on Cabrera, but he may also need some luck and help.
Tail End of a Playoff Race
If the playoffs began today, the Tigers would play the Yankees in the first round. But no team in the AL has clinched a playoff berth yet. If individual acclaim doesn’t interest Cabrera, a chance at a postseason run should. The Tigers are currently in a dead heat for the AL Central title with the rival Chicago White Sox. Claiming the division would appear to be both teams’ best chance to make the playoffs as they are five games back from the two Wild Card spots held by Baltimore and Oakland.
Seven Games Left
The Tigers play their final home game of the season against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night, then have a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, before heading to Kansas City for the final series. Both the Royals and the Twins have been eliminated from the postseason race and Detroit has a 9-4 record against the Royals, and a 8-7 record against the Twins.
While he’s been average against the Royals, Cabrera could make up ground by continuing to punish the Twins. For the season, he is hitting .403 with five home runs and 24 RBI in 62 at-bats.
Josh Hamilton’s Bat
Cabrera’s toughest battle will be for the home-run crown, as he’s already reached a career-high this season, and his previous best was 38 in 2010.
Cabrera may need some help from Hamilton, who is currently in the lead with 43. Still the Rangers also have seven games left and face the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics. While the Angels have surrendered the sixth-most home runs in the majors, the A's pitching staff is seventh best.
If projected rotations stay the same, Hamilton will face Angels ace Jared Weaver, who has limited him to two hits on 10 at-bats this season, as well as Zach Greinke, who has a 1.53 earned-run average in September.
Hamilton has also managed just one hit against Oakland’s Travis Blackley, a pitcher who Hamilton is scheduled to face twice before season's end.