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Will someone win baseball’s Triple Crown this season?

Will Juan Soto and Aaron Judge both make a run at a Triple Crown this season? Can Bryce Harper do it? Or will Shohei Ohtani capture the honor?

Each year, the search for a Triple Crown winner seems to be a more arduous task. The everyday wear, tear and grind to reach the pinnacle has become as much of a challenge as breaking Ted Williams’ .406 mark from 1941.

The game hasn’t had a Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

In this week’s version of my Behind the Plate column - investigating past and present trends with the Phillies, Mets and Yankees as well as the overall game - I’ll take a look at some of the game’s Triple Crown winners.

The 45-year drought ... Cabrera finished 2012 with 45 homers, 139 RBIs and a .330 average. He edged the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson in homers (43), the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton in RBIs (128) and the Angels’ Mike Trout in average (.326).

Cabrera was at the top of the baseball world, as he nearly mirrored his previous season with a .348 average, 44 homers and 137 RBIs. It was the first of his two MVP seasons.

Cabrera’s crown was baseball’s first since Carl Yastrzemski - who dominated the mid-to-late 1960s - with his 44 homers, 121 RBIs, and a .326 average. From 1963 to 1969, “Yaz” hit .296 with 172 homers and 593 RBIs. He only surpassed the 100-RBI mark twice during the period.

A year earlier, the Orioles’ Frank Robinson took the top spot with a. 316 average, 49 homers and 122 RBIs. From 1959-1967, Robinson posted some phenomenal numbers with a .308 average, 305 homers and 984 RBIs.

When speaking of the all-time greats, Robinson should always be mentioned on a first reference.

Speaking of Williams, he won the Triple Crown in 1942 and 1947.

Dynamic Duo ... The Yankees have been running neck-and-neck with the Phillies for the league’s best record, and Judge and Soto have been two big reasons for their success. Since May, both have been mentioned as the clubs’ first potential triple-crown winners since Lou Gehrig in 1934 and Mickey Mantle in 1956.

Judge appeared destined to win the crown in 2022 when he broke Roger Maris’ single-season AL record with 62 homers, 131 RBIs and hit .311, catapulting him to his first MVP. Then Twin second baseman Luis Arraez nipped Judge with his .316 average. Unless he is injured, Judge will be on the cusp once again.

Soto, who has been among the league leaders all season in the categories, hit 35 homers with 109 RBIs and a .275 average last season, but he also struck out 129 times. In 2021, he went 29, 95 and .313, and in 2019, he had a 34, 110 and .282 line. His .313 is his highest average to end a season, but he was at .318 at the time of this writing, sidelined with forearm inflammation.

Since Soto is in his walk year, many believe he will post huge numbers.

From Dick to Bryce ... In 1972, Dick Allen had one of the finest seasons in the 70s and helped the White Sox to an overall 87-67 record - good enough for second place behind the A’s.

Allen had a league-high 37 homers and 113 RBIs, and hit .308 (10 points behind Rod Carew and four behind Lou Pinella), having his most productive overall season. In three seasons with Chicago, Allen hit .307 with 85 homers and 242 RBIs.

With his numbers, Allen should be in the Hall of Fame.

In 2015, Harper had his sights on the prize when he hit .330 with 42 homers and 99 RBIs. He fell three points shy in average to Miami’s Dee Strange-Gordon (.333), but he tied Colorado’s Nelson Arenado in homers. He did capture MVP honors.

Six years later, Harper made another stand with a 35-homer, 84-RBI, .309 season that gained him another MVP trophy. Harper’s Achilles’ heel has been his RBI production, as he has surpassed the 100-mark only twice in his career.

Former Phillie Chuck Klein and Athletic Jimmy Foxx both won the crowns in respective leagues during the 1933 season. Both had phenomenal seasons with Klein at 44, 120, .368, and Foxx at 48, 163, .356. Klein was a lifetime .320 hitter, and Foxx hit .325.

Many believed Mike Schmidt could reach the plateau, but his strikeouts hurt him. In 1980, Schmidt had 48 homers and 121 RBIs, but hit .286. The following season, he smacked 31 homers and had 91 RBIs with a .316 average.

Hard to Dodge ... Since he arrived in the states, Ohtani has been a triple-crown favorite.

Last season with the Angels, he hit 44 homers, 95 RBIs, a .304 average and 78 extra-base hits, leading in homers and finishing fourth in average. Through it all, he gained an MVP trophy.

With his new contract and the Dodgers ascent, Ohtani will be in the running. After Friday’s game, he was on the heels of the Braves’ Marcell Ozuna in homers and RBIs, and was fifth in batting.

Teammates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman also loom as possible candidates.

The Other Triple Crown ... Over the years, there have been numerous pitching triple-crown winners in wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Since 1950, the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax has been the only multiyear winner, taking it three times in 1963 (25, 1.88. 306), 1965 (26, 2.04, 382), and 1966 (27, 1.73, 319) with some amazing numbers that have yet to be duplicated.

Steve Carlton has been the lone Phillie recipient with his 27-win, 1.97 ERA and 310-strikeout season in 1972. Dwight Gooden has been the only Met with his 24, 1.53, 268 line in 1985.

Former Indian Shane Bieber was the last one to achieve the mark in 2020 (eight wins, 1.63, 122).

Time Passages ... Each week, I’ll look back at a memorable game, this time involving the Yankees’ 4-3, 10-inning victory over the Dodgers in a Game Four of the 1978 World Series game at Yankee Stadium.

Do you remember Reggie Jackson’s alleged hip check on the ball?

LA took a 3-0 lead into the home fifth thanks to Reggie Smith’s three-run homer off Ed Figueroa, who struggled through five innings.

With two runners on in the sixth, the Yankees’ Lou Piniella lined to shortstop Bill Russell, who knocked the ball down, scooped it and stepped on second base to force out Jackson.

But Russell’s throw to first base plunked Jackson’s hip and caromed past first baseman Steve Garvey, which allowed Thurman Munson to score. Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda argued Jackson intentionally interfered by standing in the base path and used his hip to deflect the relay.

Munson ripped an RBI double in the eighth that would eventually send the game into extra innings at 3-3. Dodgers’ starter Tommy John scattered six hits over seven innings and was relieved by Terry Forster.

Pinella would win the game with a single off then rookie sensation Bob Welch, scoring Roy White with the game-winning run.

Readers Write ... More Portsiders (June 3 column)

Hi Jeff!

Here are a few others you might want to add to your lefty hitting line up.

1B - Richie Hebner was a solid hitter with power, but he only had two years with the club before he got traded.

1B - Jim Thome had two great seasons with the club. Thome had fantastic power. In his third year, he was injured, which opened the door for Ryan Howard.

RF - Jim Eisenreich had four years with the club, including that great 1993 team. His average was well over .300 for those four years.

Richard Ochs

Walnutport, PA

On the Pond ... Oh yes, the Phillies and the Mets’ battle in London Stadium was well received with over 53,000 in attendance in both games.

To me, one of the main highlights was the Saturday mascot race that featured Henry VIII, Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury and the Loch Ness monster. Mercury won.

Feedback … Your comments are always welcomed at tnsports@tnonline.com