TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsBaseball

OK, so which Triple Crown is harder to win?

The Dodgers' Matt Kemp connects on a leadoff

The Dodgers' Matt Kemp connects on a leadoff double against the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth inning. (May 29, 2012) Credit: AP

Here's a tape-delayed set of thoughts about the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown and baseball.

Exactly which Triple Crown is harder to win?

When the same horse wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in a two-week span, the next three weeks leading up to the Belmont Stakes are all about thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown and how hard it is to win it.

Yes, we know, it has been 34 years since Affirmed swept the 3-year-old classics.

But here's a history lesson: It has been 44 years since a hitter won baseball's Triple Crown. Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox led the American League in batting average (.326), home runs (44) and RBIs (121) in 1967. It has been 74 years since a National League player won the Triple Crown. In 1937, Joe Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals hit .374 with 31 home runs and 154 RBIs.

Thirteen MLB players have won a total of 15 Triple Crowns, compared to 11 horses.

1967: Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox, AL) -- .326, 44 HR, 121 RBI
1966: Frank Robinson (Orioles, AL)  -- .316, 49 HR, 122 RBI
1956: Mickey Mantle (Yankees, AL) -- .353, 52 HR, 130 RBI
1947: Ted Williams (Red Sox, AL) -- .343, 32 HR, 114 RBI
1942: Ted Williams (Red Sox, AL) -- .356, 36 HR, 137 RBI
1937: Joe Medwick (Cardinals, NL) -- .374, 31 HR, 154 RBI
1934: Lou Gehrig (Yankees, AL) --  .363, 49 HR, 165 RBI
1933: Jimmie Foxx (Athletics, AL) -- .356, 48 HR, 163 RBI
1933: Chuck Klein (Phillies, NL) -- .368, 28 HR, 120 RBI
1925: Rogers Hornsby (Cardinals, NL) -- .403, 39 HR, 143 RBI
1922: Rogers Hornsby (Cardinals, NL) -- .401, 42 HR, 152 RBI
1909: Ty Cobb (Tigers, AL) -- .377, 9 HR, 107 RBI
1901: Nap Lajoie (Athletics, AL) -- .426, 14 HR, 125 RBI
1887: Tip O'Neill (Cardinals, AA) --  .435, 14 HR, 123 RBI
1878: Paul Hines (Providence Grays, NL) --  .358, 4 HR, 50 RBI

The pitching Triple Crown -- most wins, strikeouts and lowest ERA -- is more common.  A total of 38 pitching Triple Crowns have been won by 28 different pitchers, most recently in 2011 by Detroit's Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40, 250) in the AL and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (21-5, 2.28, 240) in the NL.

In the 34 years since Affirmed won horse racing's Triple Crown, a dozen horses have had a shot at the next one. I'll Have Another was the most recent horse, but the colt was scratched day before the 2012 Belmont Stakes with an injured front leg.

The Dodgers' Matt Kemp (pictured above) came the closest we've seen in a little while to winning the NL Triple Crown in 2011. He led the National League in home runs (39) and RBIs (126), but fell short by six hits in batting average. Kemp hit .324 while Milwaukee's Ryan Braun hit .332.

Six ducksnorts. Six "the ball had eyes." Six dying quails. Talk about losing by a nose.

New York Sports