Triple Crown Watch: Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto

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Not only does Omar Infante (and his .341 batting average) still loom as a potential Triple Crown spoiler if he can get near the plate appearances necessary to qualify for the batting title, Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies has emerged as a Triple Crown darkhorse himself.
Gonzalez has taken over the batting average lead at .326, just narrowly ahead of Joey Votto at .325 and Albert Pujols and .320, and ranks just five RBIs behind Pujols for the league lead.
Gonzalez trails Pujols by six homers, which is why he’s not quite fully in the Triple Crown discussion for now, but he’s one big week away from making it a three-man race for the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

BATTING AVERAGE
Carlos Gonzalez   .326
JOEY VOTTO        .325
ALBERT PUJOLS     .320
HOME RUNS
ALBERT PUJOLS      35
JOEY VOTTO         32
Adam Dunn          32
Carlos Gonzalez    29
RUNS BATTED IN
ALBERT PUJOLS      95
JOEY VOTTO         93
Carlos Gonzalez    90

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.359/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.