Hamilton a good Triple Crown bet

The Rangers slugger is in excellent position to make baseball history

Updated: May 16, 2012, 4:04 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | Baseball Think Factory
Josh HamiltonAP Photo/Tony GutierrezJosh Hamilton is lapping the field in all three Triple Crown categories.

In 1967, Carl Yastrzemski hit .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs, leading the American League in all three categories. You might not be able to quote these numbers off the top of your head, but if you're a hardcore baseball fan, you likely know that Yaz's 1967 numbers represented baseball's 16th and most recent Triple Crown season. Given that the median age of Americans is 37 and Canadians is 41, the majority of North American baseball fans (myself included) weren't yet born the last time someone pulled off baseball's Triple Crown.

One aspect that makes the Triple Crown so tantalizing a record is that it's hard to do -- 12 of the 14 players who have done it are in the Hall of Fame -- and since it requires leading the league rather than hitting a particular number, it can be done in any scoring environment. An increase in the level of play can make it more difficult, but not to the extent hitting 50 homers would be in the dead-ball era or hitting .400 today.

In 2010, we had an intriguing Triple Crown race in that at various points well into the season, four players (Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, and Carlos Gonzalez) all had legitimate shots at pulling it off. Nobody managed it in the end -- not surprising, as it's a difficult feat -- so the dry spell continued for another year.

As we near the quarter pole, Josh Hamilton's hot start has put him into a realistic position to become the 15th Triple Crown winner (Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby did it twice). Over at FanGraphs, updated ZiPS projections for the rest of the season and the entire season appear daily. If you've checked the updated end-of-year projections in the past week or so, you will have seen that Hamilton is now projected to lead the AL in batting average, homers and RBIs when all is said and done.


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