These players were the Tigers “double crown” champs

Cobb, Greenberg, York, and Fielder are the only four Tigers to lead in two of the three triple crown categories.

Cobb, Greenberg, York, and Fielder are the only four Tigers to lead in two of the three triple crown categories.

With the big-league season winding down, talk of an unprecedented second straight Triple Crown for Miggy Cabrera is dissipating as well. It’s not only that the Tigers’ Mr. Big is running out of time to overhaul Baltimore’s Chris Davis in home runs, it’s that he’s also suffering from nagging injuries that have severely cut into his production. Now even his once-healthy leads in batting average and runs batted in are being threatened. It’s not impossible that the man who for most of the summer threatened to lead the league in all three major batting categories will wind up leading in none.

If nothing else, Miggy’s travails underscore just how difficult it is for a player to lead the loop in any of the three major batting categories at any point during his career, much less all three in the same season. Consider this: In his 22 seasons with the Tigers, Al Kaline captured one batting title (in 1955) but never led the American League in either home runs or RBIs. Not once. A fellow Hall of Famer, second baseman Charlie Gehringer, had a similar record. Gehringer, a .320 career hitter, grabbed the batting title in 1937 but never topped the American League in either homers or ribbies during his 19 years with Detroit.

So, we’ve established how difficult it is for even a Hall of Fame banger to grab one-third of a Triple Crown. But how about grabbing two-thirds? As you might suspect, it’s much harder. Since 1901, a total of 112 seasons, a Tigers batter has finished the season as a “double crown” champion – that is, leading in two of the three major categories – on only nine different occasions. Those seasons are listed here. Note that the Tigers’ two Triple Crown winners (Cabrera in 2012 and Ty Cobb in 1909) are not included. Curiously, Cabrera’s and Cobb’s Triple Crown seasons are the only times an individual Tiger has claimed both the batting title and home run championship in the same year.

Home Runs and RBI:
1991	Cecil Fielder		44 HR, 133 RBI
1990	Cecil Fielder		51 HR, 132 RBI
1946	Hank Greenberg	        44 HR, 127 RBI
1943	Rudy York		34 HR, 118 RBI
1940	Hank Greenberg	        41 HR, 150 RBI
1935	Hank Greenberg	        36 HR, 170 RBI

Batting Average and RBI:
1911    Ty Cobb               .420 BA, 127 RBI
1908    Ty Cobb               .324 BA, 108 RBI
1907    Ty Cobb               .350 BA, 119 RBI

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About Richard Bak

Richard Bak grew up on Detroit's west side doing poor imitations of Dick McAuliffe's batting stance and Denny McLain's leg kick. He is a contributing writer to Hour Detroit magazine and the author of nearly 30 books, including biographies of Ty Cobb and Joe Louis. Bak's most recent books are The Big Jump, the story of Charles Lindbergh and the great New York-to-Paris air race of the 1920s, and Detroitland, a collection of his history pieces. He currently is finishing two more books of history: Soldier of Misfortune: The Execution of Private Eddie Slovik and Its Aftermath (DaCapo) and When Lions Were Kings: The Detroit Lions and the Fabulous Fifties (Wayne State University Press), both of which will be published in 2015.