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.

Injury Bug Hits the Hot Mets

The best team in New York is currently the New York Mets. The Mets have started the season hot with a 10-3 record through their first 13 games. They’re currently 1st in the NL East, a game and a half up on the 2nd place Atlanta Braves. The Mets have had great contributions from the pitching staff. Opening day starter Bartolo Colon is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA, Jacob deGrom is 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA, Matt Harvey is 3-0 with a 3.50 ERA and Jonathon Niese is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA. The Mets have swung the bats well too. Lucas Duda, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Cuddyer are all hitting over .300.

Will Selva - Jacob deGromWith this hot start have come bumps in the road. Jenrry Mejia was injured warming up before coming in for the save on Opening Day. He was put on the 15 day disabled list and then suspended 80 games for testing positive for stanozolol. David Wright is out 3 weeks with a hamstring injury and was placed on the 15 day disabled list. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud fractured his hand when hit by a pitch by AJ Ramos of the Miami Marlins, he’s heading to the DL as is left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins who fractured his forearm. If you compile these injuries with the losses before the season of starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, and relievers Josh Edgin, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell, it’s pretty remarkable what Terry Collins and the Mets have done to date.

Interestingly enough, we have yet to see the power displayed from Curtis Granderson. Granderson currently has 0 home runs and 0 runs batted in. That should change in time. If Granderson can find his swing, he’ll add another dimension to the Mets lineup that should pair perfectly with their starting rotation.

Darvish Season Done

The Texas Rangers have some terrible news, All Star pitcher Yu Darvish will undergo Tommy John surgery. No ball club ever wants to hear that a pitcher has to have Tommy John surgery. TJ surgery means that the player effectively is done for at least 1 season and that there’s a chance they’ll never be the same pitcher again.

Will Selva - Darvish

Darvish suffered from some arm fatigue at the end of the 2014 season but decided against surgery in the off season and felt it was best to just rest his arm. The 28 year old right hander was 10-7 in 22 starts while posting a 3.06 ERA. He struck out 182 batters in just 144.1 innings which is a great strikeout/innings pitched ratio. Behind Darvish in the rotation, the Rangers have Derek Holland, Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, and Ross Detwiler. They’ll certainly need someone to step up from the bullpen or AAA level to help the rotation.

With Darvish undergoing TJ before the season starts, there is a better chance he will be back by the beginning of next season. How good he’ll be, we don’t know. Pitchers like Johan Santana, Chris Carpenter, and Brian Wilson have not faired so well when coming back from TJ surgery. Both Matt Harvey of the Mets and Ivan Nova of the Yankees look to come back this year from TJ surgery and prove they have not lost a step.