The Triple Crown is one of the rarest feats in Major League Baseball. To accomplish it, a player must lead his respective league in batting average, home runs, and RBI at the end of the season.
This year, it's in play in both the American League and National League with just a few weeks left on the schedule. However, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has a much more realistic shot at his than St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt does on the Senior Circuit.
Let's take a look at the betting odds for Judge as he wraps up a wonderful season and pursues more baseball history.
Aaron Judge odds to win 2022 AL Triple Crown
Odds courtesy of DraftKings on September 20, 2022.
Books aren't giving much in the way of odds, as you can see with DraftKings offering even money for Judge to win the first Triple Crown in a decade. But it's still the best ticket in town if you're looking to piggyback off Judge's incredible campaign. American League MVP odds have him pegged at -20,000 to win, so unless you placed a bet before the season, you're looking elsewhere.
Additionally, Caesars Sportsbook has Judge at -550 to hit Over 61.5 home runs, setting a new single-season AL record by surpassing former Yankee Roger Maris, who famously established the mark in 1961.
While the MVP and clearing Maris are firmly within his grasp, the Triple Crown is a different story altogether and will be trickier to pull off.
A quick trip down memory lane
The Triple Crown used to be a much more common occurrence. According to Baseball Reference, there are 14 Triple-Crown winners from 1900 (the start of the modern era) through 1967 between the American League and National League. There were 10 more obtained in the Negro Leagues from 1921 through 1942.
After Carl Yastrzemski captured the feat in 1967 by hitting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI, there wouldn't be another Triple Crown winner for more than 40 years until Miguel Cabrera did so in 2012 en route to his first of back-to-back MVP awards. The last National League batter to take home the honors was Joe Medwick in 1937.
One of the chief reasons why this feat is increasingly rare is power hitters don't always bat for high averages and those with high batting averages don't always do so with power. And even those who do will still come up against some stiff competition. For example, the year after Cabrera won it in 2012, he hit .348 (an even better average than the year prior) and smoked 44 homers and 137 RBI. He hit an identical 44 bombs the year before, but neither the homers nor the RBI numbers were enough in 2013. Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis hit 53 and 138, respectively to top him in both categories. And while his .286 batting average was a career watermark, it paled in comparison to Cabrera.
Judge is built different
So, enter Aaron Judge. The New York Yankees slugger has really grown as a hitter since his rookie season. He hit .284 with 52 home runs and 114 RBI as he won AL Rookie of the Year, but struck out 30% of the time and there was some concern that holes in his game would be exploited going forward. In reality, it was his injuries that prevented a repeat season.
After recording strikeout rates at 30% or higher in each of his first three seasons, he started to adjust. The 28.1% K rate in 2020 could be discounted because of the pandemic and everything associated with that mutant 60-game season. But now, Judge has struck out in just 25% of his plate appearances in back-to-back years. He's making more contact and he's making better contact.
Entering play on Tuesday, Judge is batting .316 with 59 home runs and 127 RBI. No one is catching him in homers or RBI. Jose Ramirez is closest in the latter with 113 while no other player even has 40 long balls.
But among qualified hitters, only Luis Arraez of the Minnesota Twins has a better batting average and it's by the slightest of margins at .317. Xander Bogaerts is also hitting .316, making it a three-horse race.
Judge is batting .374 in the second half and an obscene .491 in 15 September games.
Arraez — true to that high-average, low-power form previously mentioned — has only eight home runs on the season to go with his .317 average. Still, he's hitting only .284 in the second half, so if Judge keeps his momentum up, there is a distinct chance that he pulls it off.
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After an off day to start the week, the Yankees open a two-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates before welcoming the Boston Red Sox to town. Here are Judge's opponents the rest of the way:
- 2 games vs. Pirates
- 4 games vs. Red Sox
- 3 games at Blue Jays
- 3 games vs. Orioles
- 4 games at Rangers
That's 16 games against some pretty soft opponents. Still, one of the teams that has caused him the most consternation at the plate this season is Toronto. He's batting .238 with three homers in 16 games against the Jays. And while he's only played three games against the Rangers this year, he's just 2-for-10 and doesn't have a home run.
All rise for Judge
Fortunately for Judge, those three games against Baltimore and the four against Boston could come in handy. Judge is batting .309 with five homers in 14 games vs. the Red Sox this season and is doing even better against the Orioles, hitting .397 with nine homers (more than he has against any other team) in 15 games. And that series is at Yankee Stadium as opposed to Oriole Park, where righties have been largely restricted due to a deeper left-field wall. Though that hasn't stopped Judge, who slashed .438/.514/1.000 at Baltimore this season.
Things will have to break right, but opening the home stretch against a poor Pirates pitching staff will be a good start. And all five opponents rank in the bottom third of teams in terms of batting average against.
While I would like better odds than even money on Judge to win the Triple Crown — remember, shop around — the schedule lines up well for him. And with the Yankees clinging to a slimmer AL East lead than they're probably comfortable with, Judge won't be rested until the ink is dry on the season. Judge is on a nine-game hitting streak and has at least one hit in 13 of 14 games with nine of those resulting in two or more hits. He's the most complete hitter on the planet right now and he's going to make history.