Three Triple Crowns in Professional Baseball
Even though Sabermetricians have good arguments to considerer the Batting Triple Crown an overrated achievement, the true is that a guy leading a circuit in batting average, home runs and RBIs is a cool thing. A Triple Crown winner is someone to admire, it’s generally a great hitter that anybody would be anxious to have in his team.
In the majors the most recent winner is Miguel Cabrera in 2012 when he led the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and runs batted in (139). It was the first time in 45 years that someone achieved this feat and the 17th time overall in history.
Only two players have won two Triple Crowns in the majors. The first was Roger Hornsby, one of the best hitters of all time, who won the Triple Crown in 1922 (.401/42/152) and 1925 (.403/39/143)… a monster with then bat, undoubtedly. Ted Williams emulated Hornsby in 1947 (.343/32/114) when he won his second Triple Crown (the first one was in 1942: .356/36/137).
Outside the United States, in the professional baseball circuits the Triple Crown is a less common achievement, for example, Venezuela first Triple Crown winner came along last year. Other players have won two triple crowns in professional baseball circuits: Willard Brown in Puerto Rico, Roberto Bianchi in Italy, Dae Hoo Lee in Korea, Randy Bass and Sadaharu Oh in Japan. But only two have won THREE!
The first one of them was Mexico’s best player in history, Hector Espino, who achieved the feat in La Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (played between October and January). In season 64-65, playing with Naranjeros de Hermosillo, he won his fourth Batting Title in a row and second consecutive titles in Runs batted in, he finished with .382 batting average, 25 home runs and 62 RBIs. The achievement was repeated in the 70-71 season when he hit .348, 22 homers and 62 runs batted in. For the 71-72 season he just missed the Triple Crown for the home run title, his 24 fell short of 27 hit by Bob Darwin, who tied the circuit record.
In the 72-73 season Espino had what it is considered the best hitting season by any player in the circuit history, he won the Triple Crown with the highest batting average all time in LMP with .415, hit 26 home runs (1 shy of tying the league’s record) and batted in 83 runs.
The other player to win three Triple Crown was rebel Hiromitsu Ochiai in NPB. His first full season was in 1981 at 28 years (coaches sent him to bench for long time due to his rebellious character) and in 1982 he won his first Triple Crown playing for the Lotte Orions, that year he hit .325, 33 home runs and 99 RBIs. That year he also led the league in slugging, OBP, hits, doubles and total bases.
In 1985 Ochiai would win his Second Triple Crown with .367 batting average, 52 home runs (tying the Pacific League record) and established a new league record of 146 runs batted in. The next year he repeated the feat with .360, 50 home runs (first NPB player to hit 50 home runs in back-to-back seasons) and 116 RBIs.
Ochai predicted all of his three Triple Crowns and predicted a fourth in 1987 but fell short to make it.
So only two, and by the way two great hitters, have won three Triple Crowns in Professional Baseball.