Jewel of a season gone forever?
In honor of Smarty Jones, who gallops after the first horse-racing triple crown in 26 years on Saturday, we present a triple-crown edition of our Useless Information Dept.:
Barry Bonds -- won the batting title in 2002, led in RBIs in 1993 and won the home run title in '93 and 2001. Alex Rodriguez -- won the batting title in 1996, led in RBIs in 2002 and has won three straight home run titles.
Of that group, only Bichette was a top-three finisher in the batting race. But he was way behind the champ, Tony Gwynn (.368-.340).
Albert Belle in 1998 -- 3rd in avg. (.328, 11 points back), 2nd in HRs (49, seven back), 2nd in RBIs (152, five back). Larry Walker in 1997 -- 2nd in avg. (.366, six points back), 1st in HRs (49), 3rd in RBIs (130, 10 back). Jeff Bagwell in 1994 -- 2nd in avg. (.368, 26 points back), 2nd in HRs (39, four back), 1st in RBIs (116). Belle in 1994 -- 2nd in avg. (.357, two points back), 3rd in HRs (36, four back), 3rd in RBIs (101, 11 back).
Which means that the last player to lead in those two categories was also the last triple-crown winner, Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Since Yaz, 33 men have led their league in homers and RBIs in the same season. But only seven also landed in the top five in the batting race. Here are those seven, ranked by how close they came to the batting title:
Dick Allen, 1972 White Sox (3rd in avg., 10 points back).
George Foster, 1977 Reds (3rd in avg., 18 points back).
Jim Rice, 1978 Red Sox (3rd in avg., 18 points back).
Mike Schmidt, 1981 Phillies (4th in avg., 25 points back).
Willie McCovey, 1969 Giants (5th in avg., 28 points back).
Bichette, 1995 Rockies (3rd in avg., 28 points back).
Bonds, 1993 Giants (4th in avg., 34 points back).
1983 Red Sox -- Wade Boggs (avg.), Jim Rice (HRs, RBIs)
1969 Twins -- Rod Carew (avg.), Harmon Killebrew (HRs, RBIs)
Time's up. Correct answer: It's harder now than ever. When Yaz won his triple crown, he needed to hit .326, with 44 homers and 121 RBIs, to win it. Eight players have reached those numbers in the last 10 years. But at the time, no player had reached all three of those levels in the same season since the previous AL triple-crown winner, Mickey Mantle, did it in 1956. And what would it take to win a triple crown these days? We looked at the eight full seasons since the 1995 strike year, and the average levels in the National League were .365-56 HRs-146 RBIs. In the AL, it was .350-52-149.
|Useless Barry Bonds Info|
|Between April 29 and May 25 -- a period of 26 days -- the amazing Barry went 2-for-26, with just one extra-base hit (a double). And at the end of that stretch, he was still leading the league in slugging percentage (at .771).|
So how many active players have ever gotten to all three of those numbers in the same season? Zilch. And no one has even come close. In fact, no National Leaguer has ever reached those plateaus in all three departments in any season. And the last American Leaguer to beat those numbers was Jimmie Foxx, in 1932. So to win a triple crown now, you don't just need a great season. You need a truly historic season.
And now, 125 years later, it's up to a horse to pick up the mantle for all those Joneses everywhere. Who'd have thunk that?
Useless We Have A Winner Information
Well, it took almost two months. But we finally have a winner of this year's highly coveted Last Guy To Get A Hit award, which is bestowed upon the last player on an opening-day roster to get his first hit of the season.
The new champ is Orioles utility man Luis Lopez, who finally busted an 0-for-9 schneid May 21, with a seventh-inning single off Anaheim's Jared Washburn.
Lopez had actually all but assured himself of this title a week earlier, when he became the last opening-day survivor who was still A) 0 for the season and B) still in the big leagues. But he couldn't make it official until he actually got a hit.
One asterisk here: Reds catcher Corky Miller is still 0 for the year (0-for-15), but has already made two trips to the minor leagues. If he ever returns, we reserve the right to re-start his clock. But if he doesn't, he should know that would be the most at-bats in a season by anybody who went hitless since Gerald Williams went 0-for-17 for the 2002 Cardinals.
Useless 17-7 Information
You see some amazing stuff these days. But the Tigers' 17-7 win in Kansas City last Thursday ranks right up there. Among the highlights: