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Origin of "hitter's Triple Crown"?

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  • Origin of "hitter's Triple Crown"?

    From what I recall reading about early MLB, the most pretigous award for recognizing an outstanding hitter was for high Batting Average. Next most valued seems to have been "Runs Scored".

    I can't believe that Homerun leadership was considered important when fewer than ten was often enough to lead the league -- but somewhere along the way there came to be a concensus that the three most important statistics for a hitter were:
    Batting Average,
    Homeruns, and
    Runs-Batted-In.
    And then a hitter who leads all three departments in the same season is honored for having a Triple Crown season.

    Does anyone here know when and how this "award" first came to be?

    Today we recognize Nap Lajoie and Ty Cobb for their Triple Crown seasons (1901 and 1909 respectively) -- and even Paul Hines (1878) and Hugh Duffy (1894) before them -- but I doubt that such recognition was given to these hitters at the time they earned them. So, who was the first Triple Crown hitter to be so recognized in the year he achieved it? (Hornsby? Foxx? Gehrig?)
    Luke

  • #2
    I don't necessarily agree that the triple crown is about the most important stats. It's about the diversity of being able to lead in all 3 areas, well, 2 really: average and power. probably should be hits, runs and rbi.

    notice how I pretend to contribute but don't address your question at all?

    Comment


    • #3
      Maybe an advertiser just liked HR and RBI because they're more attractive, and people relate to batting average. You can "bat 1.000" in a task. Plus that sort of is the finesse against the power, as well as a recognized crown already.

      It was probably with the HR rise in the 20's, and Hornsby and Ruth hitting great. The HR lead in deadball was probably less important than the triples leader, then things adjusted some, closer to today where the triples leader is close to menutiae. RBI was probably widely accepted like OBP today, but it was still an acronym (or at least longer than 'runs') and had some more complicated rules than runs scored (RBI walks, sac flies, etc.). BA/BBs/SLG then would probably be like EqA/VORP/ISO today, maybe.
      (fantasy football)
      JM: Only did that for a couple of years and then we had a conspiracy so it kind of turned me sour. Our league's commissioner, Lew Ford(notes) at the time, was doing some shady things that ... I'd rather not talk about [laughs].
      DB: Isn't he in Japan right now?
      JM: I don't know where Lou is right now. He's probably fleeing the authorities [laughs].

      Comment


      • #4
        ty cobb mentions in his autobiography (the one with Stump) that back in the early 1900s (before the HR was revolutionized), the triple crown was recognized as having the highest BA, most RBIs and most hits

        Comment


        • #5
          I think someone just decided to take the three most glamourous stats, regardless of what they mean, and make them into a triple crown. RBI is the most dumbed down stat, it is almost entirely determined on your teammates and your position in the batting order.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by blackout805
            ty cobb mentions in his autobiography (the one with Stump) that back in the early 1900s (before the HR was revolutionized), the triple crown was recognized as having the highest BA, most RBIs and most hits
            This quote from Cobb is both interesting and surprising. Makes sense that hits were more valued than homerun leadership prior to Ruth. I was surprised to see that Cobb valued RBI ahead of Runs scored, since "scientific baseball" using small ball (singles and stolen bases) was his forte.

            When I first started to follow MLB I can truly say that most of my friends considered BA, HR and RBI leadership the three most important categories of hitting. This seems to continue even today in most local newspapers: they list the AL and NL leaders in Batting Average, Homeruns and RBI every day, but many papers list leaders in other departments only once or twice a week. In fact, our paper almost never lists leaders in OBP or OPS.

            Back to my original question: does anyone know when the Triple Crown was first recognized as a special achievement?
            Last edited by Appling; 06-04-2005, 08:08 AM.
            Luke

            Comment


            • #7
              Ty Cobb Triple Crown

              Originally posted by blackout805 View Post
              ty cobb mentions in his autobiography (the one with Stump) that back in the early 1900s (before the HR was revolutionized), the triple crown was recognized as having the highest BA, most RBIs and most hits
              In my opinion, the use of illegal PEDs has inflated homerun totals more than it has affected any other hitting stat. This has smeared the honor and respect normally given to the annual Home Run King.

              So why don't we return to this original "Triple Crown" honor and award it to a hitter who leads in these three departments: Batting Average, Hits and RBI?

              By my count, these are the hitters who would have earned the "Ty Cobb Triple Crown" since 1900:
              Nap Lajoie 1901, Nap Lajoie 1904, Cy Seymour 1905, Ty Cobb 1907, Ty Cobb 1908, Ty Cobb 1909, Ty Cobb 1911, Honus Wagner 1908, Rogers Hornsby 1920, Rogers Hornsby 1921, Rogers Hornsby 1922, Paul Waner 1927, Chuck Klein 1933, Joe Medwick 1937, Stan Musial 1948, Tommy Davis 1962, Carl Yastrzemski 1967, Joe Torre 1971, Al Oliver 1982, Todd Helton 2000 and Matt Holliday 2007.

              Maybe half this list also qualify for the traditional Triple Crown honor (BA-HR-RBI) but I like the list because it down-plays the Homerun leader and it is more uniformly spread over time. Torre, Oliver, Helton and Holliday all achieved the honor after 1967!

              This list would be even better if leading in Runs Scored were considered as well as leading in RBIs. This modification (BA-H-R) would add some other very worthy candidates nicely spread over the timeline:
              George Sisler 1922, Paul Waner 1934, Stan Musial 1946, Stan Musial 1952, Tony Oliva 1964, Rod Carew 1977, Albert Pujols 2003.
              Luke

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Appling View Post
                In my opinion, the use of illegal PEDs has inflated homerun totals more than it has affected any other hitting stat. This has smeared the honor and respect normally given to the annual Home Run King.

                So why don't we return to this original "Triple Crown" honor and award it to a hitter who leads in these three departments: Batting Average, Hits and RBI?

                It is ironic to me that these are considered to be the 3 most overrated stats among the "value based" crew. Batting average does not correlate to player production (when on base% and slugging % are factored out), RBI have no independent correlation to anything (they correlate to production, but give no added predictive ability above what can be made by other stats-in other words variations in RBI independent of other hitting stats are random) and the player with the most hits is often getting them because he is not drawing any walks.

                BA, hits and RBI would be my "superficial triple crown".

                There is the "percentage" triple crown which is BA, SLG and OB%. I think Williams won it 6-7 times, and Hornsby several times as well.

                If you wanted a triple crown that really measures different but valuable things it would be SLG%, OB% and total bases.

                Also, I saw an article in baseball digest in the late 80s about the "running" triple crown:

                Batting average, runs and stolen bases.
                Last edited by brett; 10-27-2007, 11:50 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sorry Appling that no one wants to do a little research and answer your question. They just want to impart their great "insight".

                  --------

                  One of the earliest references I found in regards to the triple crown centers on the 1906 World Series. A Washington Post writer surmised that the White Sox had won the triple crown - that is - champions of Chicago, the American League and the World Series.

                  The term "Triple Crown" doesn't seem to have gained use by sportswriters in relation to baseball until 1941. In a Christian Science Monitor article on 7/3/1941 there is a discussion about "DiMaggio shooting at Triple Batting Crown(BA,HR,RBI)."

                  And then articles noting Williams' accomplishment in 1942.

                  Not home or I'd grab my copy of Peter Morris' A Game of Inches or Jonathan Lights' the Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball. They may have better references. Or maybe a baseball dictionary.

                  ----------

                  Can't find any contemporary references to substaniate Cobb's ascertian about the triple crown.
                  Last edited by Brian McKenna; 10-27-2007, 09:29 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Paul Dickson's "Baseball Dictionary" should mention when the term Triple Crown was first used. The year may surprise some people.
                    "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                    "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by brett View Post

                      There is the "percentage" triple crown which is BA, SLG and OB%. I think Williams won it 6-7 times, and Hornsby several times as well.

                      If you wanted a triple crown that really measures different but valuable things it would be SLG%, OB% and total bases.
                      Brett: There is a previous post on the Hornsby thread discussing the "statistical triple crown" (BA, SLG, OB%). Honrnsby obtained a statistical triple crown 7 times (the all time record), Williams did it 5 times, Wagner 4 times, Cobb 3 times, Musial 2 times, Ruth, Gehrig and Foxx did it once each. While such great hitters as Aaron, DiMaggio, Mantle and Mays never did it.

                      Your comment about a hypothetical triple crown consisting of SLG&, OB% and Total Bases caused me to do some checking. Hornsby accomplished that feat 5 times. Williams and Wagner also did it 5 times. Ruth did it 4 times, Musial 3 times, Cobb did it twice, and Gehrig, Foxx and and Mays each did it once.

                      c JRB
                      Last edited by JRB; 10-27-2007, 01:05 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JRB View Post
                        Brett: There is a previous post on the Hornsby thread discussing the "statistical triple crown" (BA, SLG, OB%). Honrnsby obtained a statistical triple crown 7 times (the all time record), Williams did it 5 times, Wagner 4 times, Cobb 3 times, Musial 2 times, Ruth, Gehrig and Foxx did it once each. While such great hitters as Aaron, DiMaggio, Mantle and Mays never did it.

                        c JRB
                        Thanks, I vaguely remembered Hornsby reeling off a streak.

                        George Brett also did it in 1980: .390/.454/.664

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TonyK View Post
                          Paul Dickson's "Baseball Dictionary" should mention when the term Triple Crown was first used. The year may surprise some people.
                          His 1989 version doesn't mention it - I'll email Peter Morrris.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I tried a search on Sporting News. It's first reference to a triple crown was July 9, 1936, pp. 5. Was saying that Lou Gehrig was insisting he would win the 'triple crown again', as in 1934.

                            I tried the New York Times, and it talks about triple crowns in horse racing as early as 1923. But no baseball references until the 1940's.

                            I had also heard about a triple crown in baseball, but without HRs.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It's always about when the media wants to start referring to something mythical like a Triple Crown as something real. To my knowledge, to this day, you never read in the papers anything about the pitching Triple Crown (W, K, ERA), and yet, that designation has now made it to baseball-reference.com, at the bottom of every pitcher's sheet, under "Awards."

                              I believe--but I'm not positive--that the batting TC is still, technically, mythical. That is, I don't believe a guy receives any real trophy for it. But I could be wrong. So much of BB stats and such is mythical, built up by the press, but representing no real award from MLB.
                              Thanks for listening!

                              freak

                              Comment

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