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Aaron Judge Watches Triple Crown: Yankees Star Chasing Home Run Record, Historic Season

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Whatever size, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge enjoy a historic season in 2022. He’s making a serious run on Roger Maris’ American League single-season record of 61 home runs, and thanks to a scorching hot streak in early September, Judge has now placed himself in contention for the title race. The prodigious strength and high average give Judge a shot at the Triple Crown.

In the National League, Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt makes his own run at the Triple Crownand only once in history has there been a Triple Crown winner in both leagues in the same season: Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx (Athletics) and Chuck Klein (Phillies) did it in 1933. Judge and Goldschmidt have a chance, albeit a small one, to do it this year.

Here’s what you need to know about Judge’s Triple Crown chase as the regular season ends.

Most Recent AL Triple Crown Winners

There has been only one Triple Crown winner in the past half century, and each of the last six Triple Crown winners has come from the American League. You have to go all the way back to Joe Medwick with the 1937 Cardinals for the final NL Triple Crown. Here are those last six AL Triple Crowns:

Miguel Cabrera2012 Tigers (won MVP)

.330

44

139

Carl Yastrzemski, 1967 Red Stockings (won MVP)

.326

44

121

Frank Robinson, 1966 Orioles (won MVP)

.316

49

122

Mickey Mantle, 1956 Yankees (won MVP)

.353

52

130

Ted Williams, 1947 Red Sox (MVP runner-up)

.343

32

114

Ted Williams, 1942 Red Sox (MVP runner-up)

.356

36

137

batting average

As a huge human (listed at 6-foot-7 and 282-pounds) who hits a lot of home runs, Judge is often stereotyped as a hulking all-or-nothing slugger. That is not the case. He is a gifted natural hitter who batted .287 last season and entered 2022 with a career average of .276 in nearly 2,500 at bats. Despite his huge hitting zone, Judge hits for a solid average.

Players must have 3.1 at bats per team game to qualify for the batting title (that’s 502 at bats for the full 162 game season). Here’s the AL battle race from September 21 after Judge took the lead on Tuesday night:

  1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: .316
  2. Xander BogaertsRed Sox: .315
  3. Luis Arreaz, Gemini: .314
  4. Jose Abreuc, White socks: .308
  5. Nate Lowe, rangers: .306

If that average seems low to a potential batting champion, it is. Last season Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel won the AL battle crown with a .319 average. It was the lowest average for a batting champion in both competitions since Justin Morneau won the NL title with a .319 average for the Rockies in 2014. The last AL batting champion with such a low average was Rod Carew with the 1972 Twins (0.318).

The batting average has gradually declined in recent years, Encouraging MLB to limit defensive shifts from 2023.

home runs

They say you can’t predict baseball, but I can predict that Judge will win the home run title this season. Not just in the AL. Throughout baseball. He has an impressive lead. This is the AL standings for home runs as of September 21 (no minimum plate appearance to qualify):

  1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: 60
  2. Jordan AlvarezHouston: 37
  3. Mike Forel, angels: 36
  4. Shohei OhtaniAngels: 34

The last player to lead baseball in home runs with as many as 14 was Jimmie Foxx in 1933. He hit 48 home runs that season and Babe Ruth was a distant second with 34. Judge has a chance to do that (and then some) this year. He’s going to win the home run title. The only question is by how much.

Judge also won the home run title in 2017 with 52 as a rookie. The only active players with multiple home run titles are Cabrera (2008 AL and 2012 AL), Nolan Arenado (2015 NL, 2016 NL, 2018 NL), Albert Pujols (2009 NL and 2010 NL), and Giancarlo Stanton (2014 NL and 2017 NL).

Points Batted in

Judge is so much more than a home run hitter. He went into September with an incredible .363/.504/.780 batting line with runners in scoring position so he can give you that single to the other field if that’s all you need. Not everything is about the wall. That said, home runs drive up RBI totals. Here’s the AL RBI standings as of September 20 (no minimum plate view to qualify):

  1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: 128
  2. Jose Ramirez, guards: 115
  3. Kyle TuckerAstros: 100
  4. Yordan Alvarez, Astros: 94
  5. Adolis GarciaRangers: 92

Judge has a (very good) chance of becoming baseball’s first 130 RBI man since JD Martinez had 132 with the 2018 Red Sox. He could become the first to reach 140 RBI since Prince Fielder (brewers) and Ryan Howard (Phillies) both had 141 in 2009. No AL player had 140 RBI in a season since Alex Rodriguez had 156 with the 2007 Yankees.

Ramírez is lurking in the RBI race, although Judge has a comfortable lead at the moment and the home run title is in the bag. The Triple Crown chase comes down to whether or not Judge can clinch the battle title as well. That is the only category where significant work remains to be done.

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