Major League Baseball Triple Crown


Major League Baseball Triple Crown
A man wearing a blue baseball jersey and baseball cap holding a light-colored wood baseball bat with both hands
A man with a goatee wearing a navy-blue baseball cap and a white baseball jersey preparing to throw an unseen baseball with his right hand
Clayton Kershaw (left) and Justin Verlander (right) won the National and American League pitching triple crowns, respectively, in 2011.

In Major League Baseball, a player earns the Triple Crown when he leads a league in three specific statistical categories. For batters, a player must lead the league in home runs, run batted in (RBI), and batting average;[1] pitchers must lead the league in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average (ERA).[2] Generally, the Triple Crown refers to leading a specific league such as the National League (NL) or the American League (AL) in these categories.[3] However, if a player leads all of Major League Baseball in all three categories, he is said to have captured a "Major League Triple Crown".

The most batting Triple Crowns won by a player is two. Rogers Hornsby was the first to accomplish it, winning his first in 1922 and then leading all major leagues in 1925 en route to his second Triple Crown, both with the St. Louis Cardinals.[4][5] Ted Williams later matched this mark in the AL, winning in 1942 and 1947 with the Boston Red Sox.[6][7] The Cardinals have won the most batting Triple Crowns as a franchise with four. Along with Hornsby's two, Tip O'Neill won in the now-defunct American Association in 1887 while the team was known as the St. Louis Browns,[8] and Joe Medwick added the Cardinals' fourth in 1937.[9] Twelve of the thirteen players who have offensive Triple Crowns have been elected to the Hall of Fame.[10] Carl Yastrzemski's Triple Crown in 1967 is the most recent. Baseball writer and ESPN contributor Tim Kurkjian believes the Triple Crown has become more difficult to win with the advent of more hitters who choose to specialize in either hitting for batting average or power.[11]

The most pitching Triple Crowns captured by one player is three, accomplished by three players. Grover Cleveland Alexander captured his first two in consecutive seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1915–1916), and won a third in 1920 with the Chicago Cubs. Alexander is the only pitching Triple Crown winner to win his titles with more than one team.[12][13][14] Walter Johnson won his three Triple Crowns with the first Washington Senators, leading the league in all three categories in 1913, 1918, and 1924.[15][16][17] Sandy Koufax was the most recent to capture three Triple Crowns, winning his three within four seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1963, 1965–1966); all of Koufax' wins were Major League crowns, the most for any player.[18][19][20] Other pitchers who have won multiple Triple Crowns include Christy Mathewson (1905 and 1908 New York Giants), Lefty Grove (1930 and 1931 Philadelphia Athletics), Lefty Gomez (1934 and 1937 New York Yankees), and Roger Clemens (1997–1998 Toronto Blue Jays).[21] One pitcher, Guy Hecker, won a Triple Crown in a major league that is currently defunct; he led the American Association in wins, strikeouts, and ERA in 1884 while pitching for the Louisville Colonels.[22] Seventeen of nineteen eligible pitchers who have won a Triple Crown have been elected to the Hall of Fame.[23] Players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they have "been retired five seasons" or deceased for at least six months,[24] disqualifying six living pitchers who have been active during that time. The most recent Triple Crown winners for pitching are Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, who won for the NL and AL respectively in 2011 (the first season since 1924 to see Triple Crown winners in both leagues).[25]

The first Triple Crown winner was Tommy Bond, who won the NL pitching crown in 1877. The following year, Paul Hines won the first batting Triple Crown in the NL; he is the only batting Triple Crown winner from the NL or the AL who is not in the Hall of Fame.[10][21] The highest home run and RBI totals by a batting winner were achieved by Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig, respectively; Mantle hit 52 home runs in 1956, and Gehrig batted in 165 runs in 1934, their only Triple Crown seasons. In the National League, Hornsby is the leader in home runs, with 42, and Medwick's 154 RBI lead as well. Hugh Duffy's .440 average in 1894 is the highest ever during a winning season, and the AL leader is Nap Lajoie (.426). Among pitchers, the lowest ERAs belong to Johnson (1.14 in the 1913 AL) and Alexander (1.22 in the 1915 NL). Johnson is also the AL leader in wins (36), but Charles Radbourn's NL total is over 20 wins higher; his 59 wins in 1884 are a Major League Baseball single-season record.[26] Radbourn also struck out 441 batters that season, the highest total for a Triple Crown winner; Pedro Martínez struck out 313 in the 1999 season to notch the highest strikeout total for an AL winner.

Contents

Triple Crown winners

Key
Year Links to the article about the corresponding Major League Baseball season
Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
* Denotes "Major League" Triple Crown
HR Home runs
RBI Runs batted in
AVG Batting average
W Wins
K Strikeouts
ERA Earned run average
NL National League
AL American League
AA American Association

Batting

A man wearing a light-colored baseball uniform with dark socks bends over while standing in a baseball dugout.
Rogers Hornsby won two National League batting Triple Crowns (1922, 1925).
Year Player Position Team League HR RBI AVG Ref(s)
1878 Hines, PaulPaul Hines Center fielder Providence Grays NL 4 50 .358 [27]
1887 O'Neill, TipTip O'Neill Left fielder St. Louis Browns AA 14 123 .435 [8]
1894 Duffy, HughHugh Duffy Center fielder Boston Beaneaters NL 18 145 .440 [28]
1901 Lajoie, NapNap Lajoie Second baseman Philadelphia Athletics AL 14 125 .426 [29]
1909 Cobb, TyTy Cobb Right fielder Detroit Tigers AL 9* 107* .377* [30][31]
1922 Hornsby, RogersRogers Hornsby Second baseman St. Louis Cardinals NL 42 152 .401 [4]
1925 Hornsby, RogersRogers Hornsby Second baseman St. Louis Cardinals NL 39* 143* .403* [5][32]
1933 Foxx, JimmieJimmie Foxx First baseman Philadelphia Athletics AL 48 163 .356 [33]
1933 Klein, ChuckChuck Klein Right fielder Philadelphia Phillies NL 28 120 .368 [34]
1934 Gehrig, LouLou Gehrig First baseman New York Yankees AL 49* 165* .363* [35][36]
1937 Medwick, JoeJoe Medwick Left fielder St. Louis Cardinals NL 31 154 .374 [37]
1942 Williams, TedTed Williams Left fielder Boston Red Sox AL 36* 137* .356* [6][38]
1947 Williams, TedTed Williams Left fielder Boston Red Sox AL 32 114 .343 [7]
1956 Mantle, MickeyMickey Mantle Center fielder New York Yankees AL 52* 130* .353* [39][40]
1966 Robinson, FrankFrank Robinson Right fielder Baltimore Orioles AL 49 122 .316 [41]
1967 Yastrzemski, CarlCarl Yastrzemski Left fielder Boston Red Sox AL 44 121 .326 [42]

Pitching

A man in a baseball cap and V-neck buttoned sweater looks to the left of the image. His sweater and his hat both display the letter "P" in block type, and he holds a baseball bat over his shoulder with both hands.
Grover Cleveland Alexander won three National League pitching Triple Crowns (1915–1916, 1920) with two different teams.
A black-and-white photograph of a smiling man in a baseball cap with an interlocking white "LA" on the front
Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax won three National League pitching Triple Crowns, two consecutively and all three within four seasons.
A shoulders-up picture of a smiling man in a white baseball uniform. He is wearing a dark-colored baseball cap on his head with a white block "W" on the front.
Walter Johnson won three American League pitching Triple Crowns with the Washington Senators.
Year Player Team League ERA W K Ref(s)
1877 Bond, TommyTommy Bond Boston Red Caps NL 2.11 40 170 [43]
1884 Hecker, GuyGuy Hecker Louisville Colonels AA 1.80 52 385 [22]
1884 Radbourn, CharlesCharles Radbourn Providence Grays NL 1.38 59 441 [44]
1888 Keefe, TimTim Keefe New York Giants NL 1.74 35 335 [45]
1889 Clarkson, JohnJohn Clarkson Boston Beaneaters NL 2.73 49 284 [46]
1894 Rusie, AmosAmos Rusie New York Giants NL 2.78 36 195 [47]
1901 Young, CyCy Young Boston Americans AL 1.62 33 158 [48]
1905 Mathewson, ChristyChristy Mathewson New York Giants NL 1.27 31 206 [49]
1905 Waddell, RubeRube Waddell Philadelphia Athletics AL 1.48 27 287 [50]
1908 Mathewson, ChristyChristy Mathewson New York Giants NL 1.43 37 259 [51]
1913 Johnson, WalterWalter Johnson Washington Senators AL 1.14* 36* 243* [15][52]
1915 Alexander, Grover ClevelandGrover Cleveland Alexander Philadelphia Phillies NL 1.22* 31* 241* [12][53]
1916 Alexander, Grover ClevelandGrover Cleveland Alexander Philadelphia Phillies NL 1.55 33 167 [13]
1918 Johnson, WalterWalter Johnson Washington Senators AL 1.27* 23* 162* [16][54]
1918 Vaughn, HippoHippo Vaughn Chicago Cubs NL 1.74 22 148 [55]
1920 Alexander, Grover ClevelandGrover Cleveland Alexander Chicago Cubs NL 1.91 27 173 [14]
1924 Johnson, WalterWalter Johnson Washington Senators AL 2.72 23 158 [17]
1924 Vance, DazzyDazzy Vance Brooklyn Robins NL 2.16* 28* 262* [56][57]
1930 Grove, LeftyLefty Grove Philadelphia Athletics AL 2.54* 28* 209* [58][59]
1931 Grove, LeftyLefty Grove Philadelphia Athletics AL 2.06* 31* 175* [60][61]
1934 Gomez, LeftyLefty Gomez New York Yankees AL 2.33 26 158 [62]
1937 Gomez, LeftyLefty Gomez New York Yankees AL 2.33 21 194 [63]
1939 Walters, BuckyBucky Walters Cincinnati Reds NL 2.29 27 137 [64]
1940 Feller, BobBob Feller Cleveland Indians AL 2.61 27 261 [65]
1945 Newhouser, HalHal Newhouser Detroit Tigers AL 1.81* 25* 212* [66][67]
1963 Koufax, SandySandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers NL 1.88* 25* 306* [18][68]
1965 Koufax, SandySandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers NL 2.04* 26* 382* [19][69]
1966 Koufax, SandySandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers NL 1.73* 27* 317* [20][70]
1972 Carlton, SteveSteve Carlton Philadelphia Phillies NL 1.97 27 310 [71]
1985 Gooden, DwightDwight Gooden New York Mets NL 1.53* 24* 268* [72][73]
1997 Clemens, RogerRoger Clemens Toronto Blue Jays AL 2.05 21 292 [74]
1998 Clemens, RogerRoger Clemens Toronto Blue Jays AL 2.65 20 271 [75]
1999 Martínez, PedroPedro Martínez Boston Red Sox AL 2.07 23 313 [76]
2002 Johnson, RandyRandy Johnson Arizona Diamondbacks NL 2.32 24 334 [77]
2006 Santana, JohanJohan Santana Minnesota Twins AL 2.77* 19* 245* [78][79]
2007 Peavy, JakeJake Peavy San Diego Padres NL 2.54 19 240 [80]
2011 Kershaw, ClaytonClayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers NL 2.28 21 248 [81]
2011 Verlander, JustinJustin Verlander Detroit Tigers AL 2.40 24 250 [82]

See also

References

General
Inline citations
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