Baseball hasn't had a Triple Crown batting winner since 1967. Boston legend Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to lead his league in batting (.326), home runs (44) and RBI (121). National Leaguer's haven't had a TC rep since the Cardinals Joe Medwick in 1937.
Is the 43 year drought over? It seems amazing only a few players during this span have challenged especially when considering the black eye steroid era. Plenty of big names seemed like legit challengers ranging from Ken Griffey, Jr, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Kent, Don Mattingly and a few others.
Fast forward to present day 2010. Three National League players are battling to win the Triple Crown and lead their teams into playoff action....
Three time NL MVP and two time runner up Albert Pujols (career stats) is one of the top hitters in Major League history. His average has slipped recently but he's still within rage. 5th in batting (.311), 1st in HR (35), 2nd in RBI (96). He'll be feasting on weak NL Central pitching. The power and run production will continue. One question remains, can Pujols get a hot streak to up his batting average?
Joey Votto's (career stats) hot bat is one reason Cincinnati has shocked the baseball world (1st in NL Central). 2nd in batting average (.323), 3rd in HR (32), and 1st in RBI (97). He's sitting pretty right now and plays in a very hitter's friendly home stadium. This forth year player keeps getting better. MVP in the works? Triple Crown? Votto has quickly established himself as one of the games best.
Carlos Gonzalez (career stats) has been turning heads lately. NL leading .331 average, 5th with 31 round trippers and 3rd with 93 RBI. He's the hottest of this trio and has been Colorado's main man on offense. He may lose a few MVP votes since the Rockies will probably miss the playoffs.
What makes it so difficult to win a Triple Crown. The debate has raged for years. In my mind winning the batting average title is the hardest. It seems power hitters usually have no problems supplying long balls and producing runs. However, only a few are able to manage high average batting seasons outside of Pujols. Times are changing.
Can the Triple Crown be won? Yes. Carlos Gonzalez is red hot. Playing in Colorado is a monumental plus towards finishing with the leagues top average. Homers and runs batted in can only go up with reaching base safely. How strange will it be if Gonzo pulls off a Triple Crown but doesn't win MVP honors? It's a distinct possibility.
It's countdown time. The 2010 NFL regular season is only a few days away. NFC Championship Game rematch kicks off the new season. Right off the bat we'll see how well two quick pursuing, hard hitting defenses match up against two of the NFL's top quarterbacks and lightning fast receivers.
The following defense rankings are based on potential fantasy point values only. Some of the NFL's most stifling units may not reflect strong fantasy value. Throw into the mix a defense or two which gives up a ton of yards but returns turnovers for scores.
Here we go... Top 10 Fantasy Defenses for 2010:
1 - Minnesota Vikings. We'll know right away how valuable (or not) this squad is after they play a few power house offenses in early weeks. Solid pash rushers, fast hard hitting linebackers, and takeaway corners. They should score quite a few defensive td's and plenty of sacks. Potential for a few doozy Sunday's giving up big points.
2 - Baltimore Ravens. Defense never seems to slow down. They'll be tougher with more rest as offense seems ready to control the clock and score board. Plenty of turnovers if well rested and better field position than recent years.
3 - Cincinnati Bengals. Almost by default here. They play in one of the weaker scoring divisions and have a strong control oriented offense. Bengals might not force many turnovers. Cincy might finish in top 3 fewest points allowed in the league.
4 - Indianapolis Colts. Manning will be a ball hawking scoring machine. Colts offense near impossible to stop at home. Defense will be playing with large leads allowing a few ripe interception and sack opportunities. Weak scoring division and favorable schedule lands Indy near top of all major defensive stats. Worthy mid round draft pick will put up some heavy fantasy stats.
5 - New Orleans Saints. 2nd in NFL with 39 takeaways in '09. Ball hawkers playing with large leads against teams playing catch up. Might finish #1 in fantasy points.
6 - New York Giants. Yes, that's right New York (or should I say New Jersey?). The Giants have the best defense in town. At least as of now. Great depth, solid pass rush and healthy secondary playing behind a ball control offense spells success. Giants to be one of NFC's best.
7 - San Francisco 49ers. 33 takeaways and 4th lowest points allowed in '09. Singletary's defense getting better. So is offense to keep these guys well rested. Niners a safe play 7th or higher benefiting from NFC West featuring NFL's weakest collection of offenses.
8 - Green Bay Packers. Defense seems to be on one year, off the next. Which is it for 2010? Pack might have a few tough outings but should be just fine if they're winning.
9 - San Diego Chargers. True test coming in 2010. This is a great defense. Alert! Problem could arise for fantasy owners if offense has too many three and outs due to rookie starters. Rookies usually cough up the ball too with potential of putting defense in short field situations. Buyer beware.
10- New York Jets. Darrelle Revis holding out will cost the Jets dearly. They're NFL top 3 defense with him and much different without the NFL's best shut down cover man. This is not being a team player. Jets are legit division winning contenders with him and might suffer consequences as a team based on Revis' contract demands. These guys might get torched all year long. NFL low 236 points against in '09 keeps them in my top 10 (for now).
[September 6, 2010 ... update ... Bump the Jets up to #4. Revis expected to sign and end holdout today. Jets offense holds the key for how well this defense does in fantasy land. Too many 3 and outs will severely tax these ruthless hard hitters. However, there's not doubt plenty of sacks & takeaways will be had by these guys.]
NFL Tight End's rarely catch the eye of fantasy drafters in early rounds. I was often chastised for selecting Tony Gonzalez in early rounds during his hey-day in Kansas City. How can you go wrong with a pass catcher reeling in 100 receptions, 1000+ yards and double digit td's?
So how do 2010 Tight End's stack up? There's a big disparity between top and bottom when it comes to fantasy production from this position. Don't get caught short as plenty of points soon to be produced from a few select players.
2010 NFL TE Rankings
1 - Antonio Gates (SD). Averaging nearly 10 TD's since 2004. SD sporting rookie WR's so it's safe to expect Gates to be River's primary target. 1200 yards, 12+ TD.
2 - Dallas Clark (IND). Numbers get better every season. One of Manning's favorite targets nabbed 100 catches, 1106 yards & 10 TD. Look for more of the same in '10. 1000+, 10+.
3 - Jason Witten (DAL). Despite impressive looking bubble gum card numbers (94 rec, 1030 yds) Witten was said to have an off year. Dallas didn't call his number often enough in the red zone. Receptions & yards will mimic '09. Fantasy coaches need more scores. Here they come. 950+, 10+.
4 - Vernon Davis (SF). Lived up to draft hype last year netting 13 TD's. Reliable, big, getting better. His production rests behind center. Davis has the hands to lead all TE's in fantasy points. Question is.. what kind of season will SF QB's produce? 900+, 10+.
5 - Tony Gonzalez (ATL). Usual numbers were down in '09. Gonzo is still one of the league's elite but probably will never be targeted as much as he was in KC. 950+, 7+.
6 - Brent Celek (PHA). '09 fill in and 2010 starter Kolb connected with Celek for two 100 yard games last year. Not a good blocker but who cares in fantasy play? 850+, 8+.
7 - Visanthe Shiancoe (MIN). I'm of the believe Favre to Shiancoe will put up big numbers. Down field attack will be off with injuries to WR's. Favre loves hitting TE's vs blitzes. Respectable numbers and I'm predicting a few multi td games. He'll probably out produce a couple of guys listed above. 900+, 10+.
8 - Jermichael Finley (GB). Rodgers is ready and set to tear up NFC rivals. How much of a role Finley gets remains to be seen. He's solid but scores will probably happen elsewhere. 800+, 5+.
9- Kevin Boss (NYG). Trying to regain form after off season surgery. Boss will have plenty of open field to roam when WR speedsters are streaking down field. 600+, 7+.
10 - Kellen Winslow (TB). Tampa has a long way to go before their offense can be taken seriously. Perhaps being taken for granted is the Bucs best weapon. Winslow's a talent who's had trouble living up to potential based on two factors, injuries and playing for terrible teams. 700+, 5+.
Stay tuned. Defenses up next...