It's time for the Modern Triple Crown, and here's how to do it
You may have seen that
I do think it's a good idea to replace batting average with on-base percentage for the Triple Crown. But, to be honest, I kind of wish we could create a whole new Modern Triple Crown. That way we could have an Ancient Triple Crown and a Modern Triple Crown, kind of like they have a Modern Pentathlon and a Modern Olympics and Modern Warfare 2 and so on.
The Modern Triple Crown could be so many things, with so many great current stats out there. But to me, the simplest way to do it is to take the three building-block stats that most people use now anyway. They are the three slash stats that probably tell you more or less what you need to know about an offensive player, namely: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage. And so, to win the Modern Triple Crown you would need to lead the league in hitting, in getting on base and in slugging. Tough trick.
The Modern Triple Crown (Let's call it the MTC) has been pulled off eight times by by seven different players in the last 50 years. I think that you might be able to come up with the seven players if you think hard enough -- or any way you might come up with six of them. I came up with six. I'll give you a couple of minutes to think about it. Of course, it looks like
We'll start with ancient times -- every player who pulled off the MTC before 1959 is in the Hall of Fame. But if we have to give a name to the Modern Triple Crown, we should probably call it The Hornsby. In the early days of baseball, the MTC was pretty common.
Home: .423/.464/.799, 29 homers, 97 RBIs, 92 runs
Uh, that seems pretty extreme to me.
Then, of course, there is
OK, and that takes us to the last 50 years. You have your guesses ready? It should be said that when Mauer wins the MTC this year, he will become the first American Leaguer to do it in 29 years. That should give you a good hint for one of the players. Here we go:
But from 31 on, Yaz hit .275/.370/.430, and he only once hit more than 21 homers in a season, he only once hit 30 doubles, he only once hit .300 (.301 to be exact). These were low-scoring times, true, and he still walked a lot, which helped his value. But he clearly was not the same player after age 30. And yet, because he stayed around he got his 3,000th hit, his 450th homer, his 1,800th run scored and RBI.
And that's my question: Did Yaz secure his place in the Hall of Fame and baseball history by hitting those career landmarks with a whole bunch of pretty good seasons after age 30? Or is he mostly in the Hall of Fame because of the brilliant young player he was? I know this is basically just a remodeled version of the longevity vs. peak question that people have been asking about the Hall of Fame for a long time. But it's the Hall of Fame question I think about all the time.
Anyway, the next MTC winner is a bit of a shocker.
Was Lynn's 1979 better than
From there there was a 19-year gap between MTC winners ... and the gap would have been even longer except for the erecting of a place called Coors Field and a laboratory in California.
Helton is a tougher case in some ways -- he has never played for any team but Colorado and never played in any home park but Coors Field. His home road split is outrageous. He's hitting .361 and slugging .642 at home. And he's hitting .294 and slugging .489 on the road ... But those road numbers are pretty good (his road on-base percentage is .395) and at the end of the day a player who hits .328 with walks and power belongs in the Hall of Fame, right? He has had a pretty nice comeback year -- even if his 30-homer days seem to be over -- and he has a few years left to tack on some Yaz counting stats. I think he will get in.