Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years.
Cabrera left Wednesday's game in the fourth inning after going 0-for-2 at the plate and clinched the rare award shortly after when the Yankees pinch hit for Curtis Granderson, who was one home run shy of the Tigers slugger after a two-homer night.
The 29-year-old Venezuelan had a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 runs to become just the 15th player of all-time to win the Triple Crown and first since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Yastrzemski, who hit .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBI in winning the crown in '67 said he was shocked it has taken this long for baseball to see another triple crown winner.
"I'm surprised it's gone on this long to be perfectly honest. When (Pete) Rose broke (Ty) Cobb's hit record and when (Cal) Ripken broke (Lou) Gehrig's consecutive game record, I never thought that would happen either, so it's going to happen," the Hall of Fame outfielder told the Boston Globe last week.
"There's so much more publicity nowadays, people call a report in every day," the Globe quoted Yastrzemski as saying. "In '67, the Triple Crown wasn't even mentioned. We were so involved I didn't know I'd won it until the next day when I read it in the paper."
That the length of his reign surprises Yastrzemski is, well, not surprising. The Baltimore Orioles Frank Robinson had done it the year before Yastrzemski. Eleven others have done it also, dating back to Paul Hines of the Providence Grays in 1878. The Red Sox Ted Williams and the St. Louis Cardinals Rogers Hornsby each won it twice.
Of course, major league baseball was much different 45 years ago than it is today. There were only 20 teams (there are 30 today) and their was only playoff was the World Series, which the Red Sox lost to the Cardinals in Yastrzemski's triple crown year.
But Yastrzemski said batters of his era had one obstacle to face that today's hitters don't, a pitching mound that was 5 inches higher. The higher mounds gave pitchers an edge on velocity.
"I'd like to see what some of the pitchers would throw today, what their speeds would be, if they came off a higher mound. I could see (Justin) Verlander probably throwing 100 mph or more on every pitch," Yastrzemski told Boston radio station WEEI.
And one question will still be outstanding on Cabrera's season: should he be the league's most valuable player? Yastrzemski was in 1967.
TBS MLB analyst Dennis Eckersley thinks Cabrera deserves the MVP honor.
"I think Cabrera's focus has been on his team and winning, not concerns for himself. Playing for your team and having great numbers is an incredible feat," Eckersley said.
MVP or not, it won't reduce what Cabrera has accomplished this year, says his manager.
"No matter what happens, there are absolutely no flaws in Miguel Cabrera's season. None. Period. End of story," Leyland said.