Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has been garnering headlines primarily for his chase of Roger Maris' AL single-season home run record of 61, which he broke on Tuesday against the Rangers with his 62nd home run of the season. But he's also been in the running for another incredibly rare feat: the Triple Crown.
Judge, who's held large leads in home runs and RBIs for weeks, has been neck and neck with Twins infielder Luis Arraez for the AL batting title. Entering the season's final day, Arraez holds a commanding -- but not impossible-to-make-up -- 4.5-point lead in batting average.
Batting average, entering Wednesday:
Arraez: .31501 (172-for-546)
Judge: .31052 (177-for-570)
With the question of whether Judge will play in Wednesday's season finale still up in the air after he grinded through the past two weeks in pursuit of his 62nd homer and with nothing at stake for the Yankees in their final game, he'd need to have a pretty much perfect day while Arraez falters to claim the batting title. Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples of potential outcomes that would result in Judge winning the first Triple Crown in baseball since 2012 and the 13th in AL/NL history:
Judge goes 4-for-4 (.315331), Arraez goes 1-for-4 (.314545)
Judge goes 4-for-4 (.315331), Arraez goes 0-for-4 (.312747)
Judge goes 3-for-4 (.313589), Arraez goes 0-for-4 (.312747)
Judge goes 3-for-3 (.314136), Arraez goes 0-for-4 (.312747)
In the finales today, Judge will face Glenn Otto, and in three career at-bats, the slugger is 0-for-3 with one strikeout against the Texas right-hander. Arraez will take his cuts against Davis Martin, and he has a double in two career at-bats vs. the White Sox righty.
As you can see, it's certainly not impossible for Judge to end up on top, but it won't come easy.
Here's a breakdown of where Judge stands:
Tuesday's stats: 2-for-7 (in a doubleheader)
Last 10 games: 7-for-28 (.250), 2 HR, 3 RBIs
Next game: Today at TEX, 4:05 ET
Batting average: .311 -- 2nd in AL (1st: Luis Arraez at .315; 3rd: Xander Bogaerts at .305)
Home runs: 62 -- 1st
Runs batted in: 131 -- 1st
Past Triple Crowns
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).
Triple Crown winners
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.
Recent close calls
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.
• 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.