Retrosheet: A look at Triple Crown leaders

From SABR member Tom Ruane at Retrosheet on December 20, 2011:

While working on my Retro-review of 1966, the subject naturally turned to triple crown winners. In researching Frank Robinson’s great season, I looked at players who had lead their leagues in home runs, RBIs and batting average at various points during the year. Before I get too far into this piece, however, I wanted to make it clear that I am not looking at these three metrics because of their overwhelming importance. I think that RBIs and batting average, in particular, are among the most over-rated offensive statistics, but there is no denying the popular interest in these kinds of things. I will also only be looking at the daily leaders since 1920, when RBIs became an official statistic and people starting noticing hitters who led their league in all three categories.

So… who was the first player to be the triple-crown leader for a day? Babe Ruth, on April 24, 1921. By the next day, Riggs Stephenson had topped his batting average by a point, ending Ruth’s brief run. If you skip the very early days of the season and only start with the beginning of May, the first triple crown leader was the Giants’ High Pockets Kelly on May 1, 1922. He held on for about a week and a short time later there was a new leader: Rogers Hornsby. He was at the top for a handful of days in May and June before taking over for good on July 6th, winning the first post-1920 triple crown in a runaway.

Since most of us know the players who won triple crowns, I thought I’d focus on the players who didn’t. Here is a list of the players who have led in all three categories the latest in a season without winning a triple crown.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: December 20, 2011. Last Updated: December 20, 2011.