Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Morneau Missing In Triple Crown Talk

Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and Tigers first baseman/DH Miguel Cabrera are all the talk in American League circles as potential Triple Crown (and assumable MVP) candidates this year.  The latest comes from Yahoo! Sports writer Tim Brown who claims Hamilton has the most probability of the two to win the first Triple Crown (lead league in batting average, home runs and RBI) since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1968.

Morneau and another strong possibility, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, are seemingly invisible to those talking Triple Crown.  While I don't think anyone will be winning a Triple Crown this season, I believe all four have equal chances at it. [Then again, who ever thought we'd see two perfect games within 20 days of each other and another that should have been a few days later?]

Here are the numbers:

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano leads the AL in batting with a .358 average.
Cabrera is tied for first in home runs with White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko with 20 HR.
Cabrera leads the AL in RBI with 67.

Hamilton -- .343 (4th in AL), 18 HR (5th), 58 RBI (3rd) in 73 games played.
Cabrera -- .338 (5th), 20 HR (T-1st), 67 RBI (1st) in 74 games.
Morneau -- .347 (3rd), 15 HR (T-9th), 50 RBI (T-11th) in 74 games.
Cano -- .358 (1st), 15 HR (T-9th), 53 RBI (T-6th) in 76 games.

Any of these guys is a longshot. First, this is a league that has Seattle hitting machine Ichiro Suzuki (currently 6th in BA at .335). Secondly, these stats: Morneau is a career .285 hitter. Cano is .311 for his career. Cabrera has hit .313 for his career and Hamilton is a career .302 hitter. Lastly, Hamilton and Cabrera have both endured difficult battles with injuries and drug and/or alcohol addiction and relapses in past seasons. Morneau has slumped in the last month of recent years and Cano has a career-best 20 home runs and 97 RBI (not in the same season).

Triple Crown talk before July 4th? I'd bet heavily against any of them attaining it by the end of the season. No matter what, there are too many variables left in over one-half the season to even consider such discussion.

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