Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Triple Crown, the .400 Club, and the Greatest Year since 1941

There's been a lot of talk recently about Joe Mauer, including talk about his MVP case and his chances of finishing the season with a .400 batting average. In both cases, Pos and his Mauer Pauer series are leading proponents.

What hasn't been mentioned as often, though, is the possibility of Albert Pujols winning the Triple Crown this year. Granted, he's currently close behind Prince Fielder in the RBI category (105 to 107) and (fairly) significantly behind Hanley Ramirez in batting average (.325 to .356). But, with seven weeks left in the season, there's still plenty of time for those leaderboards to change.

Bill, over at The Daily Something, and David, from Baseball Musings, both took a look at the math to see what the real odds are. It's no surprise to learn that it isn't all that likely to happen because, let's face it, it never is. It might surprise you, though, to learn just how likely it really is. These are much better odds than most people ever have in mid-August. Bill and David did great work, and you really should give them a read to see what they determined.

So, with neither Pujols' shot at the Triple Crown nor Mauer's shot at .400 being laughably absurd, the question becomes, how fantastic would it be if both feats were achieved in the same season? When that question was brought up in the comments over at The Daily Something, I just about got chills.

With neither feat having been accomplished in over 40 years (with it being nearly 70 years for the .400 club), this would be one of the greatest seasons ever. In fact, if that were to happen, it'd battle with the 1941 season as the two greatest offensive seasons in baseball history. DiMaggio & Williams could even realistically be replaced with Mauer & Pujols. It would be remarkable. And then, when you consider that it'd be two Midwest teams making that kind of history, it'd be taken to a whole other level.

Now, clearly this is a pipe dream and it's nothing that we should realistically be entertaining until September 30. But the fact that we can even conceive of the chance in mid-August without laughing it away immediately is something to get excited about. I know what I'm rooting for the rest of the season.


Bill said...

You've got me all excited now.

Yeah, there's no real chance. But then, I'm pretty well convinced that either of these guys could hit 1.000 with 500 homers if they wanted to; they just have to take it a little easy because they don't want to be revealed as cyborgs, thrown out of the league and exhiled back to their home spacelab.

Cyril Morong said...

I blogged about this on July 4


Paul said...

I'm interested in what you meant when you wrote, "And then, when you consider that it'd be two Midwest teams making that kind of history, it'd be taken to a whole other level."

It seems to me that, if anything, the fact that Mauer and Pujols play for small and mid-market teams could actually diminish the perceptions of their feats, not enhance them. I'll bet most the country has no idea that Mauer and Pujols are chasing these historic acheivements precisely because they're in the mid-west. I follow baseball closely and though I knew both players were having great years I didn't realize either were having potentially historic years. Bet ESPN would already have a rundown on every at bat scrolling across the ticker if either player was from one of the major market clubs.

lar said...

Bill: hey man, you were the one that brought it up...

Cy: Thanks for that.

Paul: I guess I meant it from a different point of view. You're right in that, if Mauer and Pujols were on, say, the Sox and Mets right now, ESPN and everyone else would've been talking about this for weeks now and their every AB would lead Sportscenter.

What I meant was that it'd be a great shift from the past, focusing on the historical greatness of two Midwest players. If the next DiMaggio/Williams "rivalry" was truly in Missouri and Minnesota, it could help move the MLB magnifying glass a little more westward, and that would be good for everyone, I think. So maybe "a whole other level" was the wrong choice of words.

The '98 home run chase did this, I guess. But I think the Triple Crown and the .400 season would even trump that (and would definitely trump that when you consider that they're doing it in the wake of the steroids mess, and not in the thick of it). Maybe it's my Midwest bias, but I can't help but like this possibility many times more just because we're talking about the Twins and Cards and not the Yanks or Phils or Sox or whoever.