Crown Cabrera

Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

Miguel Cabrera finished the regular season with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 runs batted in, all tops in the American League. The Detroit Tigers’ slugger became the first person to win the Triple Crown since the Boston Red Sox’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

By Ronald Blum
AP Sports Writer

Miguel Cabrera won baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years Wednesday night, achieving one of the game’s greatest feats.

Cabrera topped the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs, becoming only the 15th player to win the Triple Crown and the first since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

“I am glad that he accomplished this while leading his team to the American League Central title,” Yastrzemski said in a statement. “I was fortunate enough to win this award in 1967 as part of the Red Sox Impossible Dream Team.”

Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout was second in batting at .326, while New York Yankees slugger Curtis Granderson and Texas star Josh Hamilton finished tied for second with 43 homers. Hamilton ranked second with 128 RBIs.

Granderson homered twice Wednesday night, then was removed from the game with the Yankees holding a huge lead in a 14-2 rout of Boston.

“For me, earning the batting title over Tony Oliva, who we played against in the last series of the year, was the hardest part,” said Frank Robinson, a Triple Crown winner in 1966. “For Miguel, I am sure it was even more challenging, given all the specialized relievers in the game today.”

Until Cabrera’s run, Triple Crowns seemed to be a relic from another era. When the feat was last accomplished, the World Series still was played in the daytime, there were no playoffs, and each league had eight teams.

In horse racing, no thoroughbred has won all three big races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes – since Affirmed in 1978 became the 11th to sweep the trio.

Cabrera had topped each category before, winning the home run title in 2008, the RBI crown in 2010 and the batting championship last year.

“When he’s over the plate he can do anything,” Trout said. “He’s the best hitter in the game. I think his approach, the way he battles with two strikes; you leave one pitch over the plate that at-bat, and he’s going to hit it. He had an unbelievable year.”

San Francisco’s Buster Posey became the first catcher to win the NL batting title (.336) since the Boston Braves’ Ernie Lombardi in 1942.

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