Posted by Andy on April 28, 2011
Reader Steve T wrote in to ask:
"I see that many members often talk about the unimportance of the triple crown stats. I was wondering if there was ever an instance of someone winning the triple crown and yet a reasonable argument could be made that he was not the best player in the league that given year"
Well let's take a look.
In 1967 Carl Yastrzemski won the triple crown in the AL. Yaz also led the AL in WAR by a huge margin. He registered a WAR of 12.2 while the next best player was Al Kaline with 7.3.
Here are other triple crown winners and their rank in WAR:
1966 AL, Frank Robinson, 1st in WAR (8.3) over Earl Wilson (6.8)
1956 AL, Mickey Mantle, 1st in WAR (12.9) over Early Wynn (8.5)
1947 AL Ted Williams, 1st in WAR (10.3) over Lou Boudreau (7.3)
1942 AL Ted Williams, 1st in WAR (11.0) over Joe Gordon (8.4)
1937 NL Joe Medwick, 1st in WAR (8.9) over Johnny Mize (6.9)
1934 AL Lou Gehrig, 1st in WAR (10.7) over Charlie Gehringer (9.5)
1933 AL Jimmie Foxx, 1st in WAR (9.0) over Lou Gehrig (7.9)
1933 NL Chuck Klein, 4th in WAR (6.9) behind Carl Hubbell (8.2) and second among all position players to Wally Berger (7.0)
1925 Rogers Hornsby, 1st in WAR (10.0) over Kiki Cuyler (6.9)
1922 Rogers Hornsby, 1st in WAR (10.7) over Wilbur Cooper (7.1)
1909 AL Ty Cobb, 1st in WAR (10.6) over Eddie Collins (9.8)
1901 AL Nap Lajoie, 2nd in WAR (9.4) behind Cy Young (11.2) but first among all position players
There were a couple more triple crown winners before 1901 but I'll stop there.
In all but a couple of cases, the winner put up the best WAR in his league and was probably the best player. Can we make good arguments against any of these guys? I guess I'd start with Chuck Klein.