Miguel Cabrera stands one game away from history—more specifically, the first Triple Crown in baseball since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. If he can finish off the remarkable accomplishment, it would provide the sport with a boost as the playoffs begin.
UPDATE: Wednesday, October 3 at 8:01 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Not only did the Oakland Athletics defeat the Texas Rangers for the American League West crown, but, according to SportsCenter's Twitter, Josh Hamilton is no longer a threat to Cabrera's home-run mark:
Josh Hamilton goes 1-5 in season finale & doesn't homer. He finishes season w/43 HRs, 1 back of Cabrera (in lineup tonight) #TripleCrown— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 3, 2012
He's not out of the woods yet, but Cabrera is one step closer to claiming the coveted Triple Crown.
---End of Update---
The Detroit Tigers star is in good shape heading into the season's final day. He leads Los Angeles Angeles rookie sensation Mike Trout by seven batting average points, which is a lot this late in the year, and Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers by one home run and 11 RBI.
Hamilton's game should be over, and Trout should have a couple of at-bats in by the time the Tigers take the field on Wednesday night, so Cabrera will pretty much know what he needs to do by the time he steps up to the plate for the first time.
The odds are in his favor, that's for sure. It's the type of big finish to the regular season the league needs to create some buzz heading into the postseason starting on Friday.
In the era of modern statistics, the value of basic categories like batting average, runs batted in and, to a lesser extent, home runs have been pushed aside in favor of new advanced stats. The way the game is analyzed has changed in a major way over the past decade.
That said, the casual sports fans baseball is hoping to attract for the playoffs aren't standing around the water cooler at work talking about WAR, FIP or DRS. They don't care about Miguel Cabrera's BABIP and its impact on the batting title race.
While those stats allow diehard fans to better evaluate talent and give more informed opinions about the direction of a player, they don't appeal to the mainstream audience.
Those baseball outsiders, so to speak, are looking for good storylines—a reason to tune in for the playoffs instead of watching something else. Doing something no player has done in more than four decades certainly fits the bill.
Even if the common stats that ruled the game for so long don't matter as much anymore, the Triple Crown itself shouldn't be pushed aside. It's still an amazing feat that takes an entire season of consistently great play.
Just look at the players who have been able to do it: Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, to name a few. They are the best of the best. The cream of the crop. And Cabrera is likely to join them on Wednesday.
Are casual fans more likely to tune in to watch Cabrera because he won the Triple Crown, or because he finished with the second-highest WAR in the American League? The answer is obvious.
So nobody will be rooting harder for Cabrera tonight than commissioner Bud Selig and the television executives who will be broadcasting the postseason.
Cabrera winning the Triple Crown would provide baseball with the shot in the arm it needs heading into the playoffs.