Aaron Judge Triple Crown chase

Manny Randhawa


By Manny Randhawa
www.mlb.com

Since the All-Star break, any talk of a potential Triple Crown winner in MLB this season has mainly centered around Cardinals first baseman and National League MVP favorite Paul Goldschmidt. But as we reach the final weeks of the regular season, it’s Yankees slugger Aaron Judge who is in a better position than Goldschmidt to become only the 11th player in AL/NL history to lead his league in batting average, home runs and RBIs (since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920).

Judge has been garnering headlines primarily for his chase of the AL single-season home run record of 61, set by Roger Maris 61 years ago. Judge slammed two more homers Sunday against the Brewers to up his season total to 59, placing him on the precipice of becoming only the sixth man to hit 60 or more homers in a season. But as his march on Maris’ mark continues, Judge also finds himself just two batting average points shy of leading the league in all three Triple Crown categories.

With his 4-for-5 day Sunday in Milwaukee, Judge upped his batting average to .316, which is tied for second in the AL with Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts behind the Twins’ Luis Arraez, who is hitting .317. And, needless to say, Judge leads all of baseball in homers — he’s got 20 more than the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber, who is second in MLB — and RBIs (Judge leads the Majors with 127).

Here’s a breakdown of where Judge stands in his bid for the first Triple Crown since Miguel Cabrera’s in 2012, and the 13th in AL/NL history:

Sunday’s stats: 4-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBIs
Last 10 games: 19-for-38 (.500), 4 HR, 9 RBIs
Next game: Tuesday vs. PIT, 7:05 p.m. ET

Batting average: .316 — T-2nd with Xander Bogaerts (leader: Luis Arraez, .317)
Home runs: 59 — 1st
Runs batted in: 127 — 1st

Here are the all-time greats Judge would join if he pulls off the feat. Since RBIs became an official stat in 1920, just 10 different AL/NL players have won a Triple Crown, with two multiple-time winners. There’s been only one Triple Crown in the Divisional Era (since 1969).

2012: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (AL)
1967: Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox (AL)
1966: Frank Robinson, Orioles (AL)
1956: Mickey Mantle, Yankees (AL)*
1947: Ted Williams, Red Sox (AL)
1942: Ted Williams, Red Sox (AL)*
1937: Joe Medwick, Cardinals (NL)
1934: Lou Gehrig, Yankees (AL)*
1933: Jimmie Foxx, Athletics (AL)
1933: Chuck Klein, Phillies (NL)
1925: Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals (NL)*
1922: Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals (NL)

* = Led all AL/NL players in all three categories

Note: Six players led the AL or NL in all three Triple Crown categories before RBIs became an official statistic.

In the seasons since Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, several star sluggers have been pursuing a Triple Crown down the stretch — including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just last year. Here are five recent players who came up just short.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (2021, AL): Vlad Jr.’s Triple Crown push was a big storyline in the MVP race against eventual winner Shohei Ohtani, but although he tied for the AL home run crown with 48, he finished second in batting average (.311, behind Yuli Gurriel’s .319) and fifth in RBIs (111, 10 behind league leader Salvador Perez).

Marcell Ozuna (2020, NL): Ozuna led in home runs and RBIs during the shortened season, but his .338 average put him third, behind the Nationals’ Juan Soto (.351) and Braves teammate Freddie Freeman (.341).

Christian Yelich (2018, NL): Yeli’s NL MVP campaign for the Brewers featured a batting title and narrow misses in homers (36, two behind Nolan Arenado) and RBIs (110, one behind Javier Báez).

J.D. Martinez (2018, AL): Martinez was the AL RBI champ and finished second in both homers (43, five behind Khris Davis) and batting average (.330, 16 points behind Red Sox teammate Mookie Betts).

Miguel Cabrera (2013, AL): Miggy nearly won two straight Triple Crowns, bringing home the batting title but finishing nine homers and one RBI behind Orioles slugger Chris Davis.

Three things to know about Judge’s Triple Crown chase

• Judge would become the third player in the storied history of the Yankees to win a Triple Crown, joining legends Lou Gehrig (1934) and Mickey Mantle (1956). Three players to win the Triple Crown would be the most for any Major League franchise — the Cardinals (Joe Medwick and Rogers Hornsby) and Red Sox (Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski) are the other teams with multiple winners.

• If Judge wins the Triple Crown this year, it will be 100 years after the first Triple Crown in AL/NL history was won in 1922 by Hornsby.

• Unless Goldschmidt can win the NL Triple Crown, a Judge Triple Crown would extend the AL’s run of Triple Crowns since the last one was won in the NL to seven. The last time an NL player won the Triple Crown was 85 years ago, when the Cardinals’ Medwick won it in 1937.

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