Cardinals Albert Pujols, Can He Win The Triple Crown?

Scott SpradlingContributor IJuly 28, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 22:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the New York Mets on June 22, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Triple Crown in Baseball is one of the Crown Jewels that all players strive for but realize that they may never achieve or even see awarded during their time in the Major Leagues.  There is only one way to win the Award. A hitter must lead his own League in all three hitting statistics:     1: Home runs. 2: Batting average. 3: Runs batted in. All three categories must be led or tied at the end of the season in order to be part of a Triple Crown.

Albert Pujols has already won two MVP awards and seems to be on pace for a third this season. Pujols also is considered by many to be the best player in baseball. This season  Pujols has a chance to win the Triple Crown. He is currently 1st in Home Runs with (34). 3rd in Batting average with (.325) behind Hanley Ramirez (.348) and Miguel Tejada (.326) and 1st in Runs batted in with (91).

There's a reason no one has won the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1967 and, in the National League, since Joe Medwick in 1937: It has become harder than ever as the years go by because of Player and Team specialization. There are hitters who have sacrificed power for a high average. There are hitters who have sacrificed their averages to hit for power.

 Then there is just the math of it all because there are so many more teams and more hitters in today's game. The competition is stronger than ever. Mike Schmidt won eight home run titles, but in this decade, seven different National League players have won a home run title, eight different NL players have won a batting title and seven different American League players have won an RBI crown. Sammy Sosa had more 60-homer seasons (3) than he had home run titles (2). Barry Bonds has the most homers of all time but only two home run titles.

The Triple Crown has been done only 15 times since 1887: Starting with Tip O’Neil (1887) with the Original American Association. American League Awardees are Nap Lajoie (1901), Ty Cobb (1909), Jimmie Foxx  (1933), Lou Gehrig (1934), Ted Williams (1942 and '47), Mickey Mantle (1956), Frank Robinson (1966) and Carl Yastrzemski (1967). In the National League Hugh Duffy (1894), Rogers Hornsby (1922 and 25), Chuck klein (1933), Joe Medwick (1937).

The feat is so rare and hard to accomplish that since Carl Yastrzemski (1967) won it, a player has won two legs of the Triple Crown in the same season 40 times.  No player has won the batting average and home run title in one season. And only four times has anyone won the batting title and RBI title in the same season: Joe Torre (1971), Al Oliver (1982), Todd Helton (2000) and Matt Holiday (2007).

Pujols has won only one of the categories, a batting title (2003).  Pujols led the league that year in hitting; his 43 home runs tied for fourth in the league, four short of the leader; and his 124 RBIs were tied for fourth, just 17 shy and that’s the closest Pujols has come until this season.  The closest call in recent history was Dick Allen in 1972, when he led the AL in home runs (37)  RBIs (113), and his average (.308)  was third, 10 points behind the great Rod Carew.

As fans of MLB we should be very excited no matter which team you root for. We should all be pulling for Albert Pujols. Considering how hard the Triple Crown is to win this may be the only time in your lifetime that we have a possibility to see The Triple Crown Awarded! Go Pujols!