It’s hard to log on to Twitter at the moment without stumbling upon the latest iteration of the Mike Trout v Miguel Cabrera. The debate generally comes down to Team Trout throwing WAR numbers around while Team Cabrera responds with Triple Crown numbers. For a debate that centres around two different sets of numbers, it seems strange that it’s devolved into a statheads v tradition type argument but there’s not always any accounting for logic levels with these things. Away from the squabbling, there is a chance for a much more interesting Triple Crown in the other league.
It may have been a decades since Carl Yastrzemski put together the last Triple Crown season at the plate, and Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw may have both produced the pitching version in 2011 however, by dint of being a knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey’s pursuit of the Triple Crown is automatically more interesting than Cabrera’s chase.
With around a week left in the season, Dickey ranks 2nd in the NL in wins with 19 (Gio Gonzalez has 20), 1st in ERA at 2.66 (Kershaw is 2nd with 2.68), and 2nd in strikeouts with 209 (Kershaw leads with 211).
The Triple Crown, both pitching and hitting, is pretty anachronistic in 2012; wins and RBIs in particular don’t offer any real insight into player performance, but it’s still fun to track those who have a chance of the Crown. It almost goes without saying that Dickey has a real chance of being the first knuckleballer to win the pitching Triple Crown and, if he accomplishes it, could join Cabrera as Triple Crown winners who fail to win the Cy Young Award and MVP respectively.
The current NL Cy Young race has a realistic field of around half a dozen. Dickey and Kershaw are the clear frontrunners but Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasburg have all had excellent years. Dickey’s advantage is that he has the sort of strong narrative behind him that often leads to end of season awards and if he can use his final two starts to push himself ahead of Kershaw in the Triple Crown stats he’ll head into the off-season as the favourite for the Cy. More importantly he is, for the moment, providing a welcome distraction from the endless MVP debate in the American League.