BOXFORD — Boston Red Sox legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski has a message for Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera and his “crowning” achievement last night.
Welcome to the club.
Cabrera finished the job last night on the final night of the regular season for Major League Baseball. He clinched the Triple Crown — the American League leader for highest batting average (.330), most homers (44) and runs batted in (139).
The last major leaguer to do it was Yastrzemski, who averaged .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBI in 1967. Before that, Frank Robinson copped the honor in 1966, Mickey Mantle in 1956 and Ted Williams in 1942 and 1947.
And Andover’s Yastrzemski has no animosity that this personal record of sorts has been broken.
“I am really happy for him because I know how hard it is to accomplish,” said Yastrzemski, before heading out to a Cape Ann marina yesterday to get his boat out of the water for the season. “A lot of guys have been close. Albert Pujols has been close a few times. (Matt Kemp) was last year, winning two out of three. But (Jose) Reyes got hot the last year and won the batting title. It’s really hard to win.”
Besides having the talent — Cabrera is “big, strong and has a powerful swing without having to over-swing” — Yastrzemski says Cabrera had the same two prerequisites he had 45 years earlier.
One is support in the lineup, as in the next batter in the lineup.
“He had (Prince) Fielder hitting behind him. He’s an MVP candidate. I had Tony Conigliaro hitting behind me for most of the year (until he got hurt). Then I had George Scott and Ken Harrelson. It gives the pitcher less of a chance to pitch around you with a dangerous guy behind you. With a guy like Conigliaro or Fielder, you have to challenge the guy in front of them.”