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Will we see a Triple Crown in the NL?

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It has been 43 years since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski won a Triple Crown. But here we are, with a little more than a month left in the regular season, and we have a real shot of it happening once again.

Only this time it could take place in the National League, where it hasn't happened since 1937 and it is not just one player who has a shot at it either, it is two. As interesting as any of the playoff races down the stretch are going to be, the race with the most intrigue may be between St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Cincinnati's Joey Votto.

Not only do both players have legitimate shots at one of the rarest feats in baseball, but both of their teams are fighting it out for a National League Central title.

Heading into action on Thursday Votto, whose Reds lead the division over the Cardinals by 3 1/2 games, leads the NL with a .326 average, seven percentage points ahead of Pujols, who tops the Senior Circuit in both home runs (33) and RBI (92).

Votto, though, is only two behind Pujols in each of the latter two categories.


Albert Pujols has a real shot at winning a Triple Crown.
Of course, either player would rather win a division title over a Triple Crown. Like the NL Central, the NL MVP race is probably a two-horse race between Votto and Pujols, with the one whose team winds up the division being named MVP.

How about this scenario, though? Say the Reds hold on and win the division, but Pujols wins a Triple Crown? Could Pujols actually win a Triple Crown and be denied a third straight MVP? And the same question applies to Votto.

It has happened before. After winning his second straight Triple Crown in 1947, Boston's Ted Williams finished second in the voting to Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees. Lou Gehrig actually finished fifth in the MVP voting the year of his Triple Crown in 1934.

I think Pujols has a real shot at winning this. While Votto has had a terrific season, it just feels like this is going to be yet another crowning achievement in the remarkable career of Albert Pujols. He has always just reeked of Triple Crown winner. And the funny thing is, should he win it, he will likely finish with some of the worst numbers of his remarkable career.

Votto, though, may get the last laugh with his team playing in the postseason.

MANNY-WOOD COMING TO THE WINDY CITY?

It has been reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers have placed Manny Ramirez on waivers, and at least one team looks ready to claim him. The Chicago White Sox tried to acquire the enigmatic outfielder at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to no avail, but could have him this weekend when they open a series against the New York Yankees.

Ramirez has stated that he would waive his no-trade clause to go to the White Sox, who are just 3 1/2 games back of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central heading into action on Thursday.

It is not known yet if the White Sox have put a claim in on Ramirez.

I understand why the White Sox would want Manny, but why are the Dodgers ready to unload him? After their win on Wednesday, the Dodgers are just 5 1/2 games back of the wild card. While it does not look good for Joe Torre's crew, it's certainly not time to waive the white flag just yet.

Ramirez has been plagued by injuries, but is still hitting .313 and has driven in 40 runs in just 64 games. He seems to be healthy now and there is no doubt in my mind he could help a team down the stretch.

If Chicago wants him, though, it is going to have to claim him quick, because there is a good chance he won't clear waivers. The Tampa Bay Rays need a bat, as do the Boston Red Sox. Imagine a Manny-Boston reunion? Then, lurking as always, are the New York Yankees. They could put a claim in just to block both Tampa and Boston, even though they have no need for him at all.

Forget the National League. If any one of those teams puts a claim in on him, their front office should be fired on the spot.

Either way, we should know how this is all going to play out pretty soon.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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