Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown.
Take a moment to allow the monumental nature of that achievement to sink in. Many fans and experts had begun to wonder whether reaching the milestone was even possible.
Then Cabrera came along. Sitting atop the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and runs batted in (139) at the conclusion of the regular season Wednesday night, the Detroit Tigers’ third baseman is the first player to lay claim to baseball’s Triple Crown since 1967.
Cabrera joins one of the most elite lists in sports. The slugger is just the 15th player to win baseball’s elusive title, and his name is now tied to some of the greatest to ever play the game: Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig.
The Venezuelan slugger also is the first Latino player to win the Triple Crown. Among the storied history of Hispanic players in America’s pastime, Cabrera will forever hold a vaunted place.
The impressive feat came on the heels of an incredible performance during the final stretch of the season, propelling Cabrera to baseball immortality and his team into the playoffs.
There is also an element of redemption. Three years ago, almost to the day, Cabrera made headlines after word leaked that Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski had to pick Cabrera up at the police station following an intoxicated dispute. A year later, Cabrera was arrested and charged with a DUI. Cabrera never has really discussed those issues with the media. However, his performance seems to speak for itself.
Yet, in some ways, one cannot help but feel as though Cabrera and his incredible feat has flown under the radar. At least as much as an accomplishment of this caliber can in an era of 24-hour news and social media.
Time will tell if Cabrera wins the AL Most Valuable Player award this season. Denying a Triple Crown winner is a tough sell, but baseball sabermetricians are certainly making a case for Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout.
Of course, considering 90 players between the National and American Leagues have taken home the MVP in the last four-and-a-half decades, that honor suddenly seems commonplace. That fact is one more reason why Cabrera’s success should be celebrated.
Forty-five years is eons in sports history. So pause and appreciate the rarity of Cabrera’s extraordinary feat.
After all, who knows when – or if – we’ll ever see a Triple Crown winner again.