Home field big advantage to Triple Crown

Published 4:03 am Monday, September 6, 2010

I ’d sure like to see Joey Votto win the Triple Crown. It would be a great accomplishment for anyone, especially if it was a Cincinnati Reds’ player.

But it’s probably not going to happen for Votto.

It’s nothing against Votto. He’s an intense competitor. He’s an immense talent. He has the ability to do it and he and Albert Pujols are both good enough to do it.

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But the player with the best chance is Carlos Gonzalez, and not because he’s better than Votto or Pujols. You see, Votto plays for Cincinnati, Pujols plays for St. Louis, and, as I said, Gonzalez plays for Colorado.

Numbers tend to get inflated in the thin air of Colorado. The ball travels at least 30 to 40 feet further than here on earth. Fly balls end up doubles while doubles end up home runs.

Matt Holliday of St. Louis is an example of the Colorado numbers game. He had seasons of 34 and 36 home runs with 114 and 137 runs batted in. Between Oakland and St. Louis in 2009 he had 24 home runs and 109 RBI. This year he’s hit 24 homers and has 84 RBI.

Larry Walker was a great player who has Hall of Fame numbers. His best years were in Colorado. The most home runs he hit in Montreal were 23, but he had one season in Colorado with 49 homers, 130 RBI and a .366 batting average. He led the league three times in batting with averages of .363, .379 and .350.

The Reds’ pitchers could help Votto’s cause over the next four days as Cincinnati plays in Colorado. If Votto can take advantage of the thin air and the pitchers can shut down Gonzalez, Votto might still have a chance.

The problem with any player trying to battle a Colorado player having a great season is the schedule. Colorado gets to play 81 home dates while a visiting player has only nine games at the most at Coors’ Field. Since the Reds are in a different division, they get just four games.

No one has won a Triple Crown since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967. Frank Robinson did it the year before in his first season with Baltimore after being traded to the Orioles by the Reds.

No National League player has won the home run, RBI and batting average titles since Joe Medwick of St. Louis did it in 1937.

A player who ties for the best in any of the three categories is still considered a Triple Crown winner.

Here’s hoping for a strong finish by Votto and a heavy air front to move into Colorado for a few weeks.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.