So, Miguel Cabrera won Major League Baseball's Triple Crown this summer, locking it up on the final day of the season. He batted .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBI.
Somewhat surprisingly, this has flown under the radar except for diehard baseball fans. In fact, there is a somewhat large faction of people who think that he won't even win the American League MVP this year, indicating that Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is the most deserving.
That argument is based on what Trout did after being called up to the bigs well into the season. Trout was second to Cabrera in batting average (.326) but I think everyone recognizes that he is the better all-around player than the Tigers third baseman. For you sabermetric fans out there, Trout had a 10.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) thanks largely to his great play in center field and the fact that he's faster than blue blazes. For the record, Cabrera was third in WAR at 7.1 — both according to FanGraphs.
Trout showed power by hitting 30 home runs, drove in runs by knocking in 83 and, in a mark as impressive as Cabrera's RBI totals, Trout scored 129 runs this summer. Trout also stole 49 bases in 139 games.
Regardless of who you think is deserving of the award, winning the Triple Crown is a very rare feat. In fact, I wasn't even born yet the last time in happened — though my mother was almost at full term. It was 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski pulled off the feat for the Boston Red Sox. That year, Yaz went .326, 44, 121. Cabrera becomes just the 12th person to win the award (Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams did it twice each) in the modern era.
No matter how you slice it, Cabrera's season represents one of the most historic events in a lifetime.
While it's true that a Cabrera autographed baseball with the verbiage 2012 Triple Crown on it is going for around $400 right now, he's still not the most marketable guy on the planet. In fact, according to Forbes, Cabrera made just $250,000 in endorsements last year. Don't weep for him, though, because he made a reported $21 million this past season in salary.
His lack of marketability is pretty obvious to this point. He was arrested a year ago during spring training after an episode in which, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's office at the time, Cabrera was arrested for a DUI. That wasn't the end of it, however. If it had ended there, people would probably be more willing to cut him some slack. However, it was the reported self-righteous kind of comments he allegedly made to the officers that day that makes us want to warm up to him like we did Barry Bonds.
According to the police report that day, Cabrera was handcuffed after he was seen taking a swig of of a bottle of a whiskey bottle and then quoted as asking, "(Expletive) you, do you know who I am?".
Certainly a role model he is not. Nor is he even a figure that someone can look up to in my opinion. Still, Ty Cobb won a Triple Crown for that same Detroit Tigers team and he wasn't exactly a choir boy, either.
I have to admit that I am glad to have witnessed a Triple Crown achievement in my lifetime. However, there is no way I would ever pony up $400 for a Cabrera autographed baseball, no matter how much it may appreciate in value over the years.