He has tracked down Roger Maris with homer No. 61, and New York Yankees star Aaron Judge is still chasing a Triple Crown.
The hallowed baseball achievement is reached when a hitter leads his league, AL or NL, in batting average, home runs and RBIs in the same season. Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera won MLB's last Triple Crown in 2012, breaking a decades-long drought that had stretched since Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Boston Red Sox in 1967.
For much of the summer, the preeminent 2022 Triple Crown threat appeared to be St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. But just as Goldschmidt has fallen off the homer pace in the NL, Judge has ramped up his assault on the batting average leaderboard in the AL. Since mentioning a goal of hitting .300 in July, citing Cabrera's greatness, Judge has gone supernova. He's batting .371 since the All-Star break, by far the best among qualified MLB hitters. That has lifted his overall average from .284 to a peak of .317 this week.
With his home run and RBI leads looking insurmountable, Judge is basically racing a handful of AL stars for the batting title to determine whether he will add the Triple Crown to what will surely be a ridiculous list of honors in 2022.
So, with just over a dozen games remaining, we'll monitor his pursuit here at the end of each night.
Is Aaron Judge in line for the Triple Crown?
Saturday, Oct. 1: NO. Judge went 0-for-2 with two walks and a hit by pitch as the Orioles pitched around him. That aided a Yankees victory, but didn't help him make up ground on Twins' contact-hitting extraordinaire Luis Arráez for the batting title.
Friday, Sept. 30: NO. A 1-for-4 night off Baltimore Orioles starter Jordan Lyles didn't help Judge. He's still a tick behind Arráez.
Thursday, Sept. 29: NO. Arráez went 2-for-4 on Thursday night, while the Yankees were off, to reclaim the lead in the race for the batting title. He's now at .315. Judge will begin the series against the Orioles at .313.
Wednesday, Sept. 28: YES ... by the slimmest of margins.
We're going extra decimal places to determine the AL batting average leader at this point. Judge is clinging to a tiny advantage over Arráez.
Tuesday, Sept. 27: YES. Judge is beginning to get a version of the Barry Bonds treatment. He walked four times in the Yankees' division-clinching win over Toronto. He remains a smidgeon ahead of the AL competition in the race for the batting title (and miles ahead in homers and RBIs).
1. Aaron Judge, .314
2. Luis Arráez, .313
3. Xander Bogaerts, .310
Monday, Sept. 26: YES. Every game where Judge doesn't hit homer No. 61 feels like a letdown now, but he maintained his lead in the batting title race with a 1-for-3 evening against the Blue Jays that included two walks. He's sitting at .314, with Luis Arráez now a hair ahead of Xander Bogaerts in second at .313.
Sunday, Sept. 25: YES. As the Yankees took a rain-shortened series finale from the Red Sox, Judge inched back ahead of Xander Bogaerts for the batting lead with a 1-for-2 night that included a double and a walk.
The margin? Well, it's found in decimal points not usually displayed in a batting average.
By normal rounding, Judge and Bogaerts both sit at .314, but the man with 60 homers is slightly ahead. Twins infielder Luis Arráez is in third at .313.
Saturday, Sept. 24: NO. For the first time since summiting the batting average leaderboard, Judge fell behind with a frustrating 0-for-4 against the Boston Red Sox Saturday. Overtaking him? Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox shortstop who went 2-for-5 to raise his average to .315. Judge is sitting at .314. Twins infielder Arráez could also have something to say about that leaderboard when Minnesota takes the field later.
Friday, Sept. 23: YES. But it's even closer. Judge again went homerless in a 1-for-4 night against the Red Sox. That knocked down his batting average down just a smidge, bringing him even closer to Xander Bogaerts, who was off for the game.
Where the batting average stands:
Aaron Judge: .31540
Xander Bogaerts: .31358
Luis Arráez: .31274
Thursday, Sept. 22: YES. But it's still close. Judge posted his first hitless game since Sept. 7, but it's not like the Red Sox gave him many chances. Judge went 0-for-2 with three walks and a strikeout. It looked like he had reached 61 homers on his final at-bat until the ball fell just short of the center field wall, to the surprise of Yankee Stadium.
Fortunately for the Judge partisans, Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts's batting average fell even further on an 0-for-5 night. Here's how the batting average leaderboard now sits:
Aaron Judge: .31589
Xander Bogaerts: .31358
Luis Arráez: .31262
This one's going down to the wire.
Wednesday, Sept. 21: YES. Judge's closest competition now is Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. After strong nights for both, Judge is ahead by the slimmest of margins. The leaderboards will show them both at .317, but Judge's average is a touch higher if you go further down the decimals.
Making this all more interesting? The Yankees and Red Sox begin a four-game series on Thursday in the Bronx.
Tuesday, Sept. 20: YES. On the same night he crushed home run No. 60 — and sparked a game-winning rally — Judge moved into the lead for the AL batting title for the first time. He started the evening behind Luis Arrarez and Xander Bogaerts before pulling ahead thanks to his ninth-inning blast.