Early Season Triple Crown Contenders

It’s not often someone wins the Triple Crown in Major League Baseball, although Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera won it 2012, no one had previously won it in 45 years at that time. Still with a hot start to a season, we always speculate that the next one could happen this season. Lets take a look at both the American and National League contenders so far to win the Triple Crown.

American League

 

Nelson Cruz

It was not too long ago Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners served a suspension for performance enhancing drugs but that’s now behind him and he has been raking the ball in 2015. Cruz currently has 17 home runs (1st in the AL), 35 runs batted in (Tied for 2nd in the AL), and is batting .341 (3rd in the AL). Cruz is 1 of 2 players in the American League to hold a slugging percentage over .600 and his is actually approaching .700 (.688).

Prince Fielder

Cruz looks to be the only strong threat at this point but if Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers can get hot with the long ball he could be a real threat. Fielder is currently hitting .365 (1st in the AL), with 35 runs batted in (Tied for 2nd in the AL), and has 9 home runs (Tied for 11th in the AL). Fielder has hit over 35 home runs in a season 3 times in his career and is no stranger to the long ball, so it would not be a huge surprise if he closed the home run gap in the coming months.

National League

 

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals has absolutely been on a tear. For the month of May, Harper is hitting .384 with 11 home runs, and 26 runs batted in. On the season, he has 16 home runs (1st in the NL), 41 runs batted in (2nd in the NL), and is hitting .333 (Tied for 4th in the NL). Certainly if he continues to hit the way he has in May, he stands a great chance to win the Triple Crown.

Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks has always been viewed as a great balance hitter who can get on base, hit for power, and knock runners in. While he does all of these very well, he’s not dominant in enough categories. At this point he’s hitting .338 (3rd in the NL), with 12 home runs (Tied for 4th in the NL), and has 38 runs batted in (3rd in the NL). He’s in striking distance of each category here but it’ll be a challenge for him to make a push to lead the league in all three categories.

Chicago Cubs Putting It Together

baseball

The Chicago Cubs had a poor 2014 season. The team got off to a horrendous start and sold off assets like Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics, Emilio Bonifacio to the Atlanta Braves, and Darwin Barney to the Los Angeles Dodgers. These moves allowed the Cubs to call up some young talent they had in their farm system to the big leagues. After finishing July 45-62, 17 games under .500, the Cubs went on to finish the regular season 28-27. The Chicago Cubs were one of the more exciting teams down the stretch in September having called up a lot of young talent to put on display and they delivered. Lets take a look at some of the young talent that was on display as well as some who figure to make an impact in 2015.

SS Starlin Castro – 24 years old
Despite being just 24 years old, Castro completed his 5th season in the majors. A career .284 hitter, Castro finished 2015 hitting .292 with 14 HRs and 65 RBIs. While Castro has produced, the Cubs have a plethora of young shortstops in the farm system and he may be dealt for another starting pitcher to add to the rotation.

2B Javy Baez – 22 years old
One of the guys the Cubs have that could replace Castro is now second basemen Javy Baez. Baez, who came up the farm system converted to second base in order to find playing time. Baez was called up on August 5th and made a huge splash. In his first game, he hit his first career home run, a game winner in the 12th inning. He went onto hit 2 HRs in his third game becoming the first player in over 50 years to hit 3 HRs in his first 3 games. Although he hit just .169, he did display some pop with his bat hitting 9 HRs and driving in 20 RBIs.

RF Jorge Soler – 22 years old
Soler was called up in late August and also homered in his first game with the Cubs. Soler definitely showed he can hit posting a .292 average with 5 HRs and 20 RBIs in just 89 at-bats. He figures to be penciled in as the everyday right fielder in 2015.

1B Anthony Rizzo – 25 years old
Rizzo entered the majors in 2011 with the San Diego Padres but did not create a role for himself. He came to the Cubs in 2012 and really carved his role as the everyday first basemen in 2014. Rizzo hit .286 with 32 HRs and 78 RBIs.

The pitching rotation looks to also shine in 2015. The Cubs signed one of the top free agents this offseason in Jon Lester. They inked the 31 year old left hander to a 6 yr $155 million deal. He finished last year 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA between the Red Sox and Athletics. He also struck out 220 batters. Jake Arrieta, the 28 year old right hander played all of 2014 with the Cubs and still managed a 10-5 record. He compiled a 2.53 ERA, a WHIP of 0.99 and struck out more than a batter an inning. Kyle Hendricks, a 25 year old right hander was called up in July and was spectacular for the Cubs. He finished 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA and a WHIP of 1.08.

The Cubs have a lot of great young pieces and with the addition of Lester, they figure to be a contender in the NL Central. Another name to keep an eye on, Kris Bryant. Bryant played all of 2014 in the minor leagues despite dominating. The number 2 overall pick in 2013, hit .325 with 43 HRs and 110 RBIs between AA and AAA. At age 23, he may be the best of the bunch that the young Chicago Cubs have to offer.