Much of my family members and close friends know that a big chunk of my childhood was spent in my room reading and studying baseball stats. I was always fascinated by statistical leaders and award winners, but nothing fascinated me more than the triple crowns. The triple crown in hitting is awarded to the player who leads the league in Batting Average, Homeruns, and Runs Batted In. While the triple crown of pitching is when a pitcher leads the league in Wins, Strikeouts, and Earned Run Average.
So why is this important and where do the Dodgers come in? Well I have always been a die-hard Dodgers fan, so 2011 has been a tough pill to swallow, however we might have quite a significant silver lining. In the past 50 years, only 11 pitchers have won the pitching triple crown, and only two have won the hitting triple crown. Never in the history of baseball, have two teammates won the pitching and hitting triple crown in the same season. In 2011 history can be made with in this legendary franchise that I hold so dear. Let’s take a quick look at the players who can make this infamous season historic.
ERA – 2.27 FIRST (Next closest pitcher Cliff Lee – 2.38)
Strikeouts – 242 FIRST (Next closest pitcher Cliff Lee – 232)
Wins – 20 FIRST tied (Tied with Ian Kennedy at 20)
Of the 11 pitchers to win the triple crown in the last 50 years, one person has done it three times, and that is Dodger great Sandy Koufax. Each of those three seasons, Sandy was awarded the Cy Young Award. Kershaw should have one more start before the season’s end, and so should Kennedy. I am sure each of the players know how huge of a game this is for Clayton and I am confident the team will go out and make it happen for the young 23-year-old left hander. (Koufax was 28 when he won his first triple crown.)
HR’s – 36 SECOND (1 HR behind Albert Pujols with 37)
RBI’s – 118 FIRST (Next closest hitter Ryan Howard with 113)
BA – .326 THIRD (.004 behind the leader Ryan Braun with .330)
This is the long shot, but I think Matt Kemp thrives on these types of challenges. Where Clayton Kershaw has dominated as a pitcher, and is the leading candidate for the NL Cy Young. Kemp has dominated as a hitter and may not see the rewards that Kershaw will. Burried under all the numbers, Kemp also has the potential to make history on another level. He has six games to hit 4 homeruns. If he can accomplish this, he will be the 5th player in baseball history to hit 40 Homeruns and steal 40 bases. Getting to 40 homeruns will also lock up his MVP season, as well as probably give him the numbers he needs to win the triple crown. There are a lot of what if’s, but Kemp not only has the talent, but he does have the personality and swagger to accomplish this.
So how does this effect the Dodgers and their fans?
We Dodger fans are a prideful bunch. We take pride in all aspects of the Dodgers. From Chavez Ravine, the Dodger Dog, and Vin Scully to Nancy Bea Hafley, Tommy Lasorda, and the number 42. The 2011 season was sabotaged by an owner who found it better to spend money on a ridiculously lavish lifestyle, then secure the future of his franchise. MLB has stepped in but the future is up in the air. Right now the 2011 season is seen in the baseball community as a joke.
What I feel we as Dodger fans must take out of this season is the fact that despite Frank McCourt turning his back on us, and Dodger fans returning the favor. Two Dodger players have never swayed in their support of the jersey they wear on their back. So when a Giants fan tells you 2011 was a joke for the Dodgers. You can say, “Our owner was a joke, but two triple crowns, 40/40, a MVP, and a CY Young is a bit more than your Giants did.”