There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner in baseball since 2012, when Miguel Cabrera picked up the trophy, with a batting average .330, 44 home runs and 139 runs batted in. Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander were the last players to win the Pitching Triple Crown. Both players won the trophy in 2011, after leading their respective leagues in pitching.
To win the Triple Crown in baseball, you need to be leading in all three specific categories in your league. You have to lead in the following categories to win the Batting Triple Crown; batting average, home runs and runs batted in. To win the Pitching Triple Crown, you have to lead the league in the following categories; ERA, wins and strikeouts.
And to win the Major League Triple Crown? You need to lead the whole of baseball in those categories. The batting Major League Triple Crown is the most elusive award in baseball. Only five players in history have won this award – and not since Mickey Mantle won it in 1956. The pitching Major League Triple Crown is almost just as elusive. Only 9 players have ever won this award, although Sandy Koufax achieved this mean feat three times! The last winner was Johan Santana in 2006 after he posted a 2.77 ERA, 19 wins and 245 K’s.
Batting Triple Crown
J.D. Martinez – .326 avg, 24 home runs, 61 RBI’s.
Mike Trout – .324 avg, 23 home runs, 48 RBI’s.
Mookie Betts – .338 avg, 20 home runs, 41 RBI’s.
Martinez leads the league in home runs scored as well as the most RBI’s in the league, two more than Mitch Haniger, and six more than Manny Machado. However, his batting average is a bit lower than the massive .345 Jose Altuve is currently averaging. If he can keep his batting average high, then he’s got a good chance as he is top of both of the other categories. Mike Trout is a machine – so you can never count him out. However, although he’s close to J.D. Martinez in two of the categories required, he’s 13 RBI’s short. Although Mookie Betts missed a part of the season through injury, he has a better average, and is only four home runs short of Martinez.
I don’t think any batter from the National League will accomplish the Triple Crown title this season. There’s too much quality competition, and I think they’ll fall short on their batting average. Jose Altuve is stiff competition – and has won three of the last four batting titles.
Nolan Arenado – .314, 18 home runs, 55 RBI’s.
Freddie Freeman – .321, 15 home runs, 54 RBI’s.
The NL is a lot tighter than the AL, with only 3 home runs separating the top 10. Arenado currently has the 2nd most home runs, one behind Bryce Harper. Harper definitely won’t be in the running this year, as he’s been averaging .219, which is very poor for his standards. Arenado is also only three RBI’s behind the leaders, so he is definitely within reach of leading all three categories – especially with the home advantage of playing at Coors Field. Freeman is the only other runner in the NL I can see challenging for the Triple Crown. He has a better batting average than Arenado, but is lagging behind on home runs. Scooter Gennett is an outside runner for the triple crown, as he leads the league in batting average (.334), but he only has 13 home runs.
Pitching Triple Crown
Justin Verlander – 1.82 ERA, 9 wins, 136 K’s.
Luis Severino – 2.10 ERA, 12 wins, 132 K’s.
A month ago, I would’ve said Verlander would be a shoe-in for the Triple Crown. However, June hasn’t been a kind month to him. He’s given up 13 runs in his last 5 starts, compared to only 10 runs in his previous 12 starts since the season begun. He’s also now three wins behind league leader Luis Severino, and 17 strikeouts behind Chris Sale. There’s still plenty of time for him to make a dent in those categories, especially as his ERA is so low. Severino is the only other player I can see in the running for this, as his ERA is also low – and with his league leading wins, he’s got a chance. However, like Verlander, he is a around two or three games worth behind Sale in strikeouts, and that’s only if Sale was to miss playing time.
Max Scherzer – 2.04 ERA, 10 wins, 165 K’s.
The NL Triple Crown is a one-horse race, however, Scherzer will feel hard done by as his low ERA is currently eclipsed by Jacob DeGrom who has a ridiculous 1.69 ERA. The next highest amount of strikeouts behind Scherzer’s league leading 165, is Patrick Corbin with 129. So, I can only see Scherzer having a chance of winning the NL Triple Crown. He also has 10 wins, which is tied for the league lead with Jon Lester.
Major League Triple Crown?
J.D. Martinez leads the league in home runs and RBI’s and has the 5th best batting average in baseball. He’s definitely got a great chance at a shot at this Triple Crown, but the likes of Jose Altuve – who has won the AL batting title three of the last four years, will be tough competition to beat.
Scherzer is the only pitcher who has a real chance to win the Major League Triple Crown. He’s got 12 more strikeouts than the next best, has the third best ERA in the league, and is 2 wins behind Severino. If he manages to lower his ERA (or DeGrom has some bad starts), then he’s definitely got a chance to take home this title.