Aaron Judge Sees Triple Crown: Yankees Star Has AL’s Best Batting Average During Historic Season

By all accounts, New York Yankees hitter Aaron Judge is enjoying a historic 2022 season. He’s just one away from breaking Roger Maris’ American League single-season record of 61 home runs, and thanks to a hot September, Judge has now placed himself in the batting title race. The amazing power and high average give Judge a shot at the Triple Crown.

Over in the National League, Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is making 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 (track and field) and Chuck Klein (Phillies) made it in 1933. Judge and Goldschmidt have a chance, albeit only one little one to do it this year.

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

Recent AL Triple Crown winners

There has only been 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 back to Joe Medwick with the 1937 Cardinals for the last NL Triple Crown. Here are the last six AL Triple Crowns:

Miguel Cabrera, 2012 Tigers (MVP won)

.330

44

139

Carl Yastrzemski, 1967 Red Sox (MVP won)

.326

44

121

Frank Robinson, 1966 Orioles (MVP won)

.316

49

122

Mickey Coat, Yankees of 1956 (MVP won)

.353

52

130

Ted Williams, 1947 Red Sox (MVP Second)

.343

32

114

Ted Williams, 1942 Red Sox (MVP Second)

.356

36

137

batting average

A massive human (listed at 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds) who hits a lot of home runs, Judge is often stereotyped as a lumbering, all-or-nothing hitter. That’s not the case. He’s a gifted natural hitter, hitting a .287 last season and appearing in nearly 2,500 plate appearances in 2022 with a career average of .276. Despite his enormous hitting zone, Judge hits for a solid average.

Players must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game to qualify for the batting title (that’s 502 plate appearances for the entire 162-game season). Here’s the AL race through September 21:

  1. Aaron Richter, Yankees: .3171
  2. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: .3166
  3. Luis Arraez, Twins: .313
  4. José Abreu, White Socks: .308
  5. Nate Lowe, Rangers: .308

If that average looks low for a potential batting champion, it is. Last year, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel won the AL batting title with a .319 batting average. It was the lowest average for a batting champion in both leagues since Justin Morneau won the NL title in 2014 with a .319 average for the Rockies. The last AL batting champion with an average this low was Rod Carew with the 1972 Twins (.318).

The batting average has gradually decreased in recent years, leading MLB to limit defensive shifts beginning in 2023.

home runs

They say you can’t predict baseball, but I can safely predict Judge will win the home run title this season. Not only in the AL. In all baseball. He has sovereign leadership. Here’s the AL home run leaderboard through September 21 (no plate appearance required to qualify):

  1. Aaron Richter, Yankees: 60
  2. Jordan Alvarez, Houston: 37
  3. Mike Trout, Angel: 36
  4. Shohei Ohtani, Angel: 34

The last player to lead baseball in home runs by 14 points was Jimmie Foxx in 1933. He hit 48 home runs that season and Babe Ruth was a distant second at 34. Judge has a chance to do that (and more) this year. He will win the home run title. The only question is by how much.

Judge also won the home run title at 52 as a rookie in 2017. 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). ).

Runs banged up

Judge is so much more than a home run batter. He went into September with an incredible .363/.504/.780 batting line with runners in goal position, so he can give you that single upfield if that’s all you need. Not everything goes over the wall. However, Homers are pushing the RBI totals higher. Here’s the AL RBI leaderboard through September 21 (no plate appearance required to qualify):

  1. Aaron Richter, Yankees: 128
  2. José Ramírez, guard: 115
  3. Kyle Tucker, Astros: 102
  4. Jordan Alvarez, Astros: 94
  5. Adolis García, Rangers: 94

Judge has a (very good) chance of becoming the first 130 RBI man in baseball 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 has had 140 RBI in a season since Alex Rodriguez had 156 with the Yankees in 2007.

Ramírez lurks 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 will boil down to whether Judge can also catch the batting title. This is the only category where significant work still needs to be done.

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