With four weeks and six days to go in the 2018 regular season, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez has a very real chance to win the American League Triple Crown. Martinez currently leads in the league in batting average (.337) and RBI (110), and his 38 home runs are one behind Khris Davis for the league lead.
The Triple Crown is a very cool accomplishment that has only happened 16 times in history, and only once in the last half-century. Miguel Cabrera was the last to do it back in 2012, when he lead the league with a .330 average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBI en route to being named AL MVP. Before Cabrera, Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to win the Triple Crown. He won it back in 1967.
Martinez's pursuit of the Triple Crown will undoubtedly be a fun race to watch the final few weeks of the regular season. There is, however, another fun statistical race going on in the American League that would result in something far more rare than the Triple Crown. Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez has a chance to lead the league in both home runs and stolen bases.
Here are the AL home run and stolen base leaderboards:
|Home Runs||Stolen Bases|
1. Khris Davis, Athletics: 39
2. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox: 38
2. Jose Ramirez, Indians: 28
3. Jose Ramirez, Indians: 37
5. Mookie Betts, Red Sox: 26
Ramirez is two off the home-run pace and one off the stolen-base pace. To me, it seems like it'll be much tougher to win the home run crown. Ramirez is up against true mashers like Davis and Martinez and Gallo for the home run title. I have no reason to think those guys will stop hitting home runs, barring injury.
As for stolen bases, Ramirez has a significant edge over Gordon in on-base percentage (.403 vs. 294), theoretically giving him more opportunities to steal. His primary competition for the stolen-base crown might be Merrifield and his .374 on-base percentage, especially with Smith now on the disabled list.
Point is, Ramirez ranks among the league leaders in home runs and stolen bases, and he has a chance to lead the AL in both categories. A small chance, but a very real chance. Only one player has lead his league in homers and steals since the live ball era began in 1920: Hall of Famer Chuck Klein, who did it with 32 homers and 20 steals for the 1932 Phillies.
Several players have come close to leading their league in homers and steals over the years, most notably Willie Mays. Mays led the NL with 51 home runs in 1955 and finished second with 24 steals, one behind Bill Bruton. The last player to finish in the top two in both homers and steals was Matt Kemp. In 2011 he led the NL with 39 homers and was second with 40 steals, far behind league leader Michael Bourn, who stole 61 bases.
Martinez has a legitimate chance to win the Triple Crown this season and that is incredibly cool. Don't overlook what Ramirez is doing though. He is hitting .290/.403/.606 overall and has a very real chance to lead the league in homers and steals, which is quite cool in and of itself, and is something that doesn't happen nearly as often as a Triple Crown.