Detroit Tiger Justin Verlander leads the American Leauge in wins (24), strikeouts (244) and ERA (2.29), making him a virtual lock for the AL Cy Young award (I’d be surprised if he wasn’t chosen unanimously). While these numbers make Verlander the front-runner for the AL Triple Crown for pitchers (first since then-Minnesota Twin Johan Santana in 2006), they also put him in front for the MLB triple crown, which Santana was also the last to win.
Verlander’s main competition is Los Angeles Dodger Clayton Kershaw. What’s curious about Kershaw is he is the front-runner (currently 19/236/2.30) to win the NL Triple Crown (first since then-San Diego Padre Jake Peavy in 2007).
Should both Verlander’s and Kershaw’s positions at the top of their leagues hold up, and Verlander remains on top of Kershaw overall, it will be the first time in 87 years that a pitcher has won the MLB triple crown and another has won a league triple crown. Dazzy Vance of the NL’s Brooklyn Robins (a precursor to the Brooklyn and then LA Dodgers) won the 1924 MLB triple crown in the same season that Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators (a precursor to the Twins) won the AL’s triple crown.
The last time an AL pitcher won the MLB triple crown and an NL pitcher won his league triple crown was 1918, when that same Walter Johnson won the MLB triple crown and Hippo Vaughn (seriously) of the NL’s Chicago Cubs won his league triple crown.
Only two other times have two triple crowns been won in the same year. Christy Mathewson of the NL’s New York Giants (now in San Francisco) and Rube Waddell of the AL’s Philadelphia Athletics (later to moved Kansas City before their current home in Oakland) both won their league triple crowns in 1905, but neither won the MLB triple crown.
Charles Radbourn of the NL’s Providence Grays (defunct since 1885) won a league triple crown in 1894 in the same year that Guy Hecker of the Louisville Colonels won in the American Association (which later merged with the NL before folding in 1891).
As a bonus, here are some other triple crowns one could win (according to Wikipedia):
• The Triple Crown of Hiking is completing in entirety the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails (16 inducted into Triple Crown club in 2010)
• The Triple Crown of Motorsport is winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 (only winner: Graham Hill, 1966)
• The Triple Crown of Alpine Skiing is won through World Cup victories or Olympic gold medals in slalom, giant slalom and downhill (last winner: Jean-Claude Killy, 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble)
• The Triple Crown of golf is winning the British Open (aka The Open Championship), the U.S. Open and either the South Africa Open (never achieved) or the Canadian Open (last winner: Tiger Woods, 2000)
• If England, Ireland, Scottland or Wales beats the other three in the rugby union Six Nations Championship, that team wins the Triple Crown (last winner: Ireland, 2009)
• The Triple Crown of Professional Paintball comes from winning the Millenium Series, the Paintball Sports Promotions series and the National Professional Paintball League
• The classic thoroughbred racing Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby (last winner: Affirmed, 1978)
• The Triple Crown of Dog Shows is the Westminster Kennel Club, the National Dog Show and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (only winner: Sadie the Scottie, 2009-10)
And since I started with baseball, I’ll end with baseball: the last hitter to win the Triple Crown (batting average, home runs and RBIs) was Boston’s very own Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Aren’t you glad you knew all that?