WASHINGTON -- Before this year, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was the last right-handed hitter to win the Triple Crown. As a member of the 1966 Orioles, Robinson led the American League in home runs (49), RBIs (122) and batting average (316).
Can you imagine Robinson's reaction after he learned that Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown on Wednesday night? Robinson was ecstatic. He found it hard to believe that no one had won the Triple Crown since 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski matched Robinson's feat.
"I was happy for Miguel," Robinson said in a phone interview. "People don't seem to understand how difficult is to win the Triple Crown. It has been 45 years since it was done. It doesn't seem like it was 45 years ago. It points out how difficult it is.
"I was happy for Miguel and the Tigers organization, because it came in a championship season. I think that even adds more credence to the accomplishment. I understand it's an individual thing, but it was done within the team concept."
Robinson, the first manager in Nationals history who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, believes Cabrera had a much tougher time winning the Triple Crown than he did 46 years ago.
Robinson said there was more media attention on Cabrera because of social media. According to Robinson, Cabrera is a low-key guy who can take a lot of media pressure.
"Today it's more noticeable, and everybody is watching you more," Robinson said. "When I won the Triple Crown, there really wasn't anything made of it until September. Even after I won, there wasn't lot made of it.
"For Miguel, it makes it more special to be able to win the Triple Crown. He is the type of player who can handle the media. He is a low-key individual. He doesn't let anything bother him. He is focused. It seems he is focused on every at-bat. He is a very impressive young man. He is a very outstanding hitter."
Robinson also said it is tough to be a champion in three major categories because of all the position players who play in the Major Leagues.
"It's difficult, because you never hear anyone going into the season saying, 'I'm going to win the Triple Crown,'" Robinson said. "The other is, you are competing against a lot of position players in three categories. You have to have some luck. It's not just because you are good and having a terrific year. Somebody has to be off in one of those categories for you to win the Triple Crown."
Robinson said he won the Triple Crown because Twins outfielder Tony Oliva had an "off year" in hitting. The previous two years, Oliva won the AL batting title, but in '66, Oliva slumped and finished second behind Robinson in batting average.
"Oliva was leading the league for most [of '66]. He was the one I had to beat out the last few days," Robinson remembers. "He didn't have the type of year that he usually had in the batting average race."
Robinson has not talked to Cabrera, but would like to meet him before the year is over and pick his brain on hitting.
"I want to see what his approach is to hitting. I want to personally congratulate him. I will personally try to do that before his season is over," Robinson said.
Robinson doesn't have a vote for the 2012 AL Most Valuable Player Award, but he believes Cabrera should win the trophy. Robinson also won the award in '66, after winning the Triple Crown.
"Looking at the year, naturally, and looking at what his team did doing the year, I don't think there is any doubt that he is the MVP in the American League," Robinson said. "I don't think there should be any doubt."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.