By: Scott RossPublished: October 5, 2022

Aaron Judge's Incredibly Narrow Path to the Triple Crown

Aaron Judge finally got the imaginary monkey off his back Tuesday night with his 62nd dinger of 2022, thereby breaking the American League and New York Yankee record for home runs in a season, but he still has one monumental achievement in his grasp, one that actually means something: the Triple Crown.

Judge heads into Wednesday night's season finale against the Texas Rangers comfortably leading the American League with 62 home runs and 131 runs batted in, but he's got quite a bit of work to win the batting title and the Triple Crown.

Judge's BA peaked at .317 after he went 2-for-4 in a 14-2 win over Pittsburgh September 21, putting him slightly ahead of Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Since then, however, Judge gone 8 for 37, falling to .311, and though Bogaerts’ has dropped further, going 5 for 36 and plummeting to .305, Minnesota Twins infielder Luis Arraez has gone 12 for 35 to take pole position with a .315 average.

Take a look at this matrix of possible outcomes for each player (assuming each man gets between 0 and 5 at bats) and it becomes clear that Judge's chances of catching Arraez are very, very slim. The absolute worst day Judge can have and still have a realistic shot at the batting title and Triple Crown is going 2-for-3. And that's if Arraez decides to play; if Arraez decides to sit and make Judge catch him, Judge needs to go either 4-for-4 or 4-for-5.

Arraez has been catching heat in some corners of the internet for having sat out a few games down the stretch, presumably in an effort to protect his lead in the race for the batting title. While it's true that Arraez has sat out four of the Twins' last nine gams, it's also true that from September 22 forward, when Judge was three points ahead of him, Arraez has gone 12 for 35, while Judge has gone 8 for 37.

Perhaps if Judge had been more focused on shortening his swing in an effort to win the Triple Crown, rather than chase a fake home run record, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Instead we could be talking about how Judge's season for the ages produced just the second Triple Crown of the last 50 years, and how everyone who's ever won the Triple Crown, save for the still active Miguel Cabrera, has been immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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