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Ranking The Triple Crown Seasons

Miguel Cabrera breaks drought in 2012; where does his feat rank all-time?

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Miguel Cabrera photo

Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers celebrates after a home run in July 2012.

Leon Halip/Getty images
Updated October 05, 2012

In all the inflated years of offense in the last 15 years or so, we never had a Triple Crown winner. That might be because it didn't allow the cream to rise to the top -- there was too much cream. (And probably too much of "the clear," too.)

In fact, Barry Bonds never did it. Even though he led the league in the Triple Crown categories multiple times, he never did it in the same year.

But in 2012, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to lead his league in batting average, home runs and RBI.

Cabrera didn't quite win the overall Triple Crown by leading both leagues in the categories -- narrowly being nipped in batting average. That has only been done four times -- by Mickey Mantle in 1956, Lou Gehrig in 1934, Ted Williams in 1942 and Ty Cobb in 1909. That's some serious company.

So how does this rank all-time? To put this in perspective, let's rank the Triple Crown seasons, starting with 1901. (There were two in the 19th century, but that was before the major leagues were similar in structure to today.)

1. Mickey Mantle, 1956 Yankees -- .353, 52 HR, 130 RBI: The most dominant season for a Triple Crown winner ever. Batting average was 93 points over the league average. He hit 20 more homers than second-place Vic Wertz, and drove in two more than Al Kaline. He would have won the Triple Crown in the NL that season as well.

2, Rogers Hornsby, 1922 Cardinals, .401, 42 HR, 152 RBI: Right up there, too. His batting average was 109 points over the league average, and was 47 points over second-place Ray Grimes. He hit 16 more home runs than anybody else and 20 more RBI.

3. Lou Gehrig, 1934 Yankees -- .363, 49 HR, 165 RBI: His batting average was 84 points over the league average. He hit five more homers than second-place Jimmie Foxx, and drove in 23 more runs than second place Hal Trosky. His numbers would have also won the Triple Crown in the NL.

4. Rogers Hornsby, 1925 Cardinals - .403, 39 HR, 143 RBI: His batting average was 111 points above the league average, he won the home run title by 16 and the RBI title by 20.

5. Napoleon Lajoie, 1901 A's - .426, 14 HR, 125 RBI: His batting average was a preposterous 149 points above the league average, he won the home run total by two and the RBI title by 11.

6. Ty Cobb, 1909 Tigers - .377, 9 HR, 107 RBI: His batting average was an incredible 133 points above the league average, he won the home run total by two (all were inside-the-park homers) and the RBI title by 10. Won the overall Triple Crown, as his total would have led both leagues.

7. Carl Yastrzemski, 1967 Red Sox -- .326, 44 HR, 121 RBI: His batting average was 90 points over the league average, he was tied for the lead in homers with Harmon Killebrew and had eight more RBI than Killebrew.

8. Frank Robinson, 1966 Orioles -- .316, 49 HR, 122 RBI: His batting average was 76 points over the league average, had 10 homers more than second-place Harmon Killebrew and 12 more RBI than Killebrew.

9. Jimmie Foxx, 1933 A's - .356, 48 HR, 163 RBI: His batting average was 83 points above the league average, he won the home run title by 14 and the RBI title by 24.

10. Miguel Cabrera, 2012 Tigers -- .330, 44 home runs, 139 RBI: His batting average was 80 points over the league average. He hit one more homer than second-place Josh Hamilton and won the RBI title by 11. He also did this playing half his games in what's considered a pitcher's park, Comerica Park.

11. Ted Williams, 1947 Red Sox -- .343, 32 HR, 114 RBI: His batting average was 87 points over the league average, he won the home run title by three and the RBI title by 16.

12. Ted Williams, 1942 Red Sox - .356, 36 HR, 137 RBI: His batting average was 99 points over the league average, he won the home run title by nine and the RBI total by 23. Won the overall Triple Crown, as his total would have led both leagues. But this was during World War II, when the league wasn't at its strongest. Williams himself left for the war after this season.

13. Joe Medwick, 1937 Cardinals - .374, 31 HR, 154 RBI: His batting average was 102 points above the league average, he tied for the home run title and led the league in RBI by 39.

14. Chuck Klein, 1933 Phillies - .368, 28 HR, 120 RBI: His batting average was 102 points above the league average, he won the home run title by 1 and the RBI title by 14. But he played in the bandbox Baker Bowl.

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