The last man to win baseball’s Triple Crown did it in a Red Sox Uniform. This year, it will happen again.
When Carl Yastrzemski won the AL Triple Crown in 1967, he did it with a .326 batting average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI. These numbers are certainly impressive, but as anyone who has seen him play can tell you, a healthy Adrian Gonzalez can easily reach this same milestone.
Indeed, despite a multitude of issues last season, Gonzalez was a monster for the Sox. He finished with a .338-27-117 stat line, with the bulk of his damage coming in the first half of the season. Indeed, at the All-Star break, Gonzalez was on pace to put up a .354-30-138, which would have put him at the top of two of the three Triple Crown categories at season’s end.
Gonzalez’s noticeable power drop-off from previous seasons has been linked to lingering shoulder problems associated with surgery he had prior to the 2011 season, though, to his credit, he never let that become an excuse.
It’s also true that when looking at advanced metrics, it becomes clear that part of the reason for Gonzalez’s swollen batting average was a high degree of luck. His batting average on balls on play (BABIP) was a ridiculous .386; for comparison, in the 2008-10 seasons, his BABIP was .304.
Though he may not reach such a high batting average again this year, it is perfectly reasonable to expect a .320-plus average from Gonzalez, who for a host of reasons will have a second year in Boston much easier than his first. He already had an excellent spring, hitting .356 with a solid .901 OPS and showing no ill effects from the collapse of last season.
There is no doubt that 2012 is shaping up to be a huge year for the Sox's first baseman, whose ability to consistently hit for both power and average makes him arguably the most valuable asset in the Sox's lineup.
Here are five reasons why Gonzalez will win the AL Triple Crown this season: