The horse racing Triple Crown hasn’t been won since Affirmed in 1978. The last baseball Triple Crown achievement goes back even farther, last won by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Is 2012 the year we see one or maybe even both Triple Crowns achieved? I’ll Have Another and Texas Rangers superstar Josh Hamilton will do their best to do it. You can hear everyone’s thoughts on this weeks Three Up, Three Down podcast, here is how I think it will shake out.
The Case for I’ll Have Another
I’ll Have Another shocked the horse racing world winning the Kentucky Derby at 16-1 odds after a late charge on the favorite Bodemeister. Then followed with the same performance chasing Bodemeister down the backstretch to win the Preakness Stakes at the wire. The Belmont Stakes is the ultimate test for a thoroughbred. The mile and half race that has ended Triple Crown chances for great horses like Smarty Jones, Big Brown, Funny Cide, Real Quiet, Charismatic, and Silver Charm in their bids for horse racing immortality. Helpful to I’ll Have Another’s chances is Bodemeister, his main rival, will not be taking part in the final race. This could back fire though as a fresher horse could be taking Bodemiester’s place to run the full mile and a half. Smarty Jones went off at 2 to 5 odds for the Belmont Stakes in 2004 and got edged out by Birdstone. I could see I’ll Have Another having similar odds, making him the statistical favorite to pull off the Triple Crown.
The Case for Josh Hamilton
Let me start off by wishing a happy 31st birthday to Josh Hamilton! This season has been a dream so far for the Rangers slugger as he currently leads the American League in batting average (.389), home runs (18), and runs batted in (47). Can Hamilton keep those numbers up to win add his name among baseball greats like Yaz, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig? Hamilton has a batting title in 2010 and an RBI title in 2008 under his belt already, so he knows that he can lead the league in those categories. What about the home runs though? He’s already more than half way past his career-high total of 32. Last years AL league leader in homers was Jose Bautista with 43, so Hamilton would have to increase his career best by 11 to match last years number. This is doable as Hamilton is on pace for over 70 home runs this season and currently had a lead of four on his closest competitors Adam Dunn and Adam Jones. The home runs will be the toughest category of the three. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus continuing to get on base will give Hamilton enough runners to drive in to win that category. Hamilton leads Paul Konerko by .022 in batting average right now so that is still in range with this much of the season left. We’ve already seen Derek Jeter lose over .050 in batting average in a short time. If any player can pull of the Triple Crown it’s Hamilton, especially with the prospects of a Triple Crown at the top of his resume going into his free agency.
The Final Verdict
As I said on the podcast this week, I believe that BOTH will get their Triple Crowns. I’m definitely rooting for I’ll Have Another and will be at Belmont for the race on June 9th. Hamilton’s is less likely, but Matt Kemp came close last year in the NL, so it certainly is doable.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)