MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

(CBS News) It took 45 years but Miguel Cabrera has achieved baseball immortality.

The Detroit Tigers star won the Triple Crown.

"Everybody said to me it was unbelievable. They were all excited to see this, enjoy this, be a part of something big," the Venezuelan slugger said.

Cabrera finished the regular-season hitting .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs, leading the American League in all three statistical categories, making him just the 15th player to achieve the Triple Crown and the first since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Between Yastrzemski in 1967 and Cabrera in 2012, a player led his league in home runs and RBIs dozens of times - but failed to win the batting title. Here's a look at some of the players who have come up just short of the Triple Crown since 1967.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Willie McCovey

Giants, 1969

.320 average, 45 home runs, 126 runs batted in

Carl Yastrzemski's claim as the last Triple Crown winner was nearly short-lived. Giants star Willie McCovey came close to the feat just two years later. The slugger led the league in home runs and RBIs in both 1968 and 1969. But Pete Rose led the majors in batting average in both seasons. McCovey came close in '69 when he hit a career-best .320, but he still fell 24 points shy of Rose.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Dick Allen

White Sox, 1972

.308 average, 37 home runs, 113 runs batted in

It's perhaps not surprising that dozens of players have led the league in both home runs and RBIs since 1967. But of those sluggers, the one who came closest to the batting crown was Dick Allen in 1972, when he finished the season just 10 points behind perennial batting title contender Rod Carew. Still, the Wampum, Pa. native won the MVP in 1972 after leading the league in walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

George Foster

Cincinnati Reds George Foster

Reds, 1977

.320 average, 52 home runs, 149 runs batted in

Before the steroids era, only one player topped 50 home runs after Willie Mays in 1965: George Foster in 1977. The Reds slugger also knocked in 149 runs - the most since Tommy Davis in 1962. But even though Foster hit a career-best .320 in 1977, he was still well shy of Dave Parker's .338 average. Foster's salary during his monster 1977 season: $166,667.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Jim Rice

Red Sox, 1978

.320 average, 46 home runs, 139 runs batted in

Jim Rice, who was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, was viewed by some baseball pundits as being a very good but not elite player. But anyone who witnessed his 1978 campaign would beg to differ: Rice led the majors in home runs, RBIs, hits, triples, total bases and slugging percentage - earning him the MVP award. But like Dick Allen in 1972, Rice was denied the Triple Crown because Rod Carew won one of his six batting titles that year.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Gary Sheffield

Padres, 1992

.330 average, 33 home runs, 100 runs batted in

Gary Sheffield, who played for eight MLB teams over 22 seasons, actually came closest to the Triple Crown when he was a 23-years-old in a Padre uniform. The slugger never led the league in home runs or RBIs but in 1992, he won the batting title and came tantalizingly close in the other categories. His 33 HRs were just two behind league leader Fred McGriff and his 100 RBIs were just nine shy of Darren Daulton's tally. Although Sheffield had more round-trippers and RBIs in several other seasons, it was his 1992 campaign in San Diego that got him the closest to the coveted Triple Crown.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Larry Walker

Rockies, 1997

.366 average, 49 home runs, 130 runs batted in

Larry Walker's gaudy stat line in 1997 might have earned him the Triple Crown in other seasons - but not when his own teammate also benefitted from playing in hitter-friendly Coors Field. Walker led the league in home runs but was 10 RBIs shy of Rockies teammate Andres Galarraga - who drove in 84 of his 140 runs at home. (To his credit, Walker stroked 29 of his 49 home runs on the road). Though Walker was six points short of winning the batting title, his lofty .366 average was no fluke - he led the league in batting the following two season (.363 and .379, respectively).

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Barry Bonds

Giants, 2002

.370 average, 46 home runs, 110 runs batted in

After breaking the single-season home run record in 2001, Barry Bonds didn't see a lot of pitches to hit the following year. He was intentionally walked 68 times, but he still managed to crank 46 homers (three shy of Sammy Sosa's league-leading 49) and drive in 110 runs (18 behind Lance Berkman). Though his 198 total walks likely cost him a shot at the Triple Crown, Bonds won the batting title with a mind-boggling .370 mark - 72 points higher than his career average.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Albert Pujols

Cardinals, 2003

.359 average, 43 home runs, 124 runs batted in

For all his prodigious stats, Albert Pujols has only led the league in both home runs and RBIs once (2010). But he was actually closer to the Triple Crown as a 23-year-old Cardinal in 2003. That year, he posted a phenomenal .359 average and fell just four home runs and 17 RBIs shy of the NL league leaders in those categories (Jim Thome and Preston Wilson, respectively). Pujols was also close in 2009, when he belted a league-leading 47 homers. But he finished six RBIs behind Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder and 15 points behind batting champ Hanley Ramirez.

MLB Triple Crown: Cabrera makes history

Matt Kemp

Dodgers, 2011

.324 average, 39 home runs, 126 runs batted in

In 2011, Matt Kemp had a realistic shot at winning the Triple Crown heading into September. The Dodgers slugger ended up leading the league in both home runs (39) and runs batted in (126). But his .324 average was 13 points behind league-leader Jose Reyes and 8 points behind Brewers star Ryan Braun - who would win the 2011 MVP despite Kemp's magnificent season.