erik lundegaard

Monday May 06, 2019

Has Anyone Ever Led the League in Doubles, Triples and Homers During Their Career?

The scarcity of guys who led the league in doubles and triples in the same season (last: Cesar Tovar, 1970), and doubles and homers in the same season (last: Albert Belle, 1995), led to the realization that only a handful of guys have done either at any point in their careers. And the eight guys since 1970 who led in doubles and triples during their career, and the eight guys who led in doubles and homers during their career, don't include any of the same names. Meaning no one has led the league in all three categories at any point in their career since at least 1970.

Which led to this question: Has anyone in baseball history ever led the league in doubles, triples and homers during their career? And if so, who was the last to do it? 

The immediate thought: Willie Mays. He's one of five guys to lead the league in homers and triples in the same season—1955—so all he needed was to lead the league in doubles at one point in his magnificent 22-year career to get the trifecta.

Guess what? He retired with 523 career doubles, 16th-best all-time in 1973, but he never led the league. His career high was 43 in 1959 but that was only good enough for third in the NL—behind Vada Pinson (47) and Hank Aaron (46).

OK, what about Mickey Mantle then? He also lead the league in homers and triples in 1955. (BTW: How about that? Only five guys ever did a thing in baseball history and two of them did it in the same season.) Did he complete the trifecta?

Nope. Never a doubles guy. His career high was 37 in 1952 and his career total is 344, currently tied for 307th all-time.

Jim Rice? He's the last to do homers/triples in the same season. But nope. Never doubles. 

Well, surely Stan the Man. He led the league in doubles and triples in the same season four times. And when he retired in ‘63, he was sixth all-time in homers—behind only Ruth, Foxx, Williams, Ott and Gehrig. 

He came close. In 1948, his career-high 39 dingers placed him one behind league leaders Ralph Kiner and Johnny Mize. That was as close as het got. 

Aaron? Just doubles and homers. 

Yastrzemski? Just doubles and homers. 

DiMaggio? Just triples and homers. 

Ruth? Just homers

To give you an idea how hard it is to lead the league in any of these categories, here’s someone who's never done any of it: Mike Trout. The best player in the game today, and he never led the league in either doubles, triples or homers. 

OK, so did anybody do it? 

Yes. I‘ve found seven names. First, a few caveats. I only went back to 1901 when the American League was formed. So I only counted guys that did it from 1901 on. If someone did two categories in the 1890s and one in the 1900s, he’s not on this list. Just a warning. 

Plus I'm one guy with a day job. I did due diligence but I might have missed some names. 

And now here a hint: There are seven players but only on three teams. Yes, one of them is the Yankees, but it's not the dominant team. In fact, the Yanks just have one guy. The Tigers have two. The St. Louis Cardinals have four. 

Here you go: The seven players who managed the trifecta and the year they completed it:

Ty Cobb 1908, 911, 1917 1908, 1911, 1917, 1918 1909 1909
Sam Crawford 1909 1902, 1903, 1910, 1913, 1914, 1915 1901, 1908 1909
Rogers Hornsby 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924 1917, 1921 1922, 1925 1922
Jim Bottomley 1925, 1926 1928 1928 1928
Lou Gehrig 1927, 1928 1926 1931, 1934, 1936 1931
Joe Medwick 1936, 1937, 1938 1934 1937 1937
Johnny Mize 1941 1938 1939, 1940, 1947, 1948 1941

You knew there would be deadball guys, since homers back then were often just extended triples. Hornsby also makes sense—a great hitter who began to hit homers after Ruth got the attention he did; and he did it in the NL, where he didn't have to beat Ruth to take the HR title. Ditto, Bottomley, who was good for a short period. Both are Cards. As is Medwick and Mize. Mize became a Giant and a Yankee, but his trifecta black ink is with the Cards. 

Anyway, that's the answer. These seven. And the last to do it was Johnny Mize, in the season before we entered World War II.

Does anyone have a shot at it today? I'll get to that in the final post on the subject. 

Who led the league in doubles, triples and HRs during their career?

Seven Samurai: 4 Cards, 2 Tigers, 1 Yankee.

Posted at 07:19 AM on Monday May 06, 2019 in category Baseball  
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