Who could be next to win the batting triple crown?

In 2012, Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera became the first player in 45 years to lead his league in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139). No one has won the triple crown of batting in the majors since Cabrera did it that season en route to becoming the American League Most Valuable Player.

Ten players have achieved the hitting triple crown since runs batted in became an official statistic in 1920. It’s a group that includes some of the greatest hitters in league history. Cabrera, who retired as a player after the 2023 season, is a perfect fit.

Who will be the next member of this elite group? The following players could win the Triple Crown, and we’ve divided them into three categories: favorites, contenders and “dark horses.”

Juan Soto, Yankees
Soto’s personal bests in home runs and RBIs, 35 and 110 respectively, fall just short of typical Triple Crown standards. No player has ever won the Triple Crown with fewer than 114 RBIs, and every league home run leader has hit at least 36 in an entire season since 1993. But Soto turned 25 in October. He’s on the verge of what should be the best season of his career, already has a batting title to his name and could show more power as he matures, though he could play half of the 2024 season at Yankee Stadium. It will be beneficial. Meaning

Aaron Judge, Yankees
Soto’s new teammate came very close to the Triple Crown in 2022. In what was still a historic year for Judge, he was just five percentage points behind Venezuelan Luis Arrez of the Twins for the lead in American League batting average. Judge hasn’t hit above .287 in his other seven major league seasons, but his great power gives him the advantage in the other two categories of the Triple Crown. If he can raise his contact rate above 70% as he did in 2021 and 2022, Judge could become just the third Yankee to accomplish the feat.

Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers
Let’s not forget that Ohtani came close to achieving the Triple Crown as recently as August of last year. He has never driven in more than 100 runs in a season, but now with the Dodgers his opportunities to drive in runs should increase, even if he spends most of his time at second base. Triple Crown winners usually bat third or fourth, but we’ve recently seen some players lead their league in RBIs while primarily hitting second. That includes Judge (131 RBI) in 2022, Josh Donaldson (123) in 2015 and Mike Trout (111) in 2014. And since we know there’s nothing Ohtani can do on the diamond, what’s stopping the two-time unanimous MVP from adding the Triple Crown to his list of accomplishments?

Yordon Alvarez, Astros
Alvarez has everything he needs to be a candidate for the Triple Crown: He’s a 28-year-old fearsome slugger with tremendous pure hitting ability, and he’s part of an offense that’s consistently ranked in the top 10 in runs scored. . After hitting 37 homers in 2022, Cuban homered 31 times in just 114 games last year. At the same time, he and Freddie Freeman are the only players with an expected batting average of .300 or higher in each of the last two seasons (at least 450 plate appearances).

Freddie Freeman, Dodgers
So why isn’t Freeman in that top category? He has only reached 35 home runs once in his illustrious career. And not that age should be biased, but Freeman’s date of birth must be taken into account. Lou Gehrig is the oldest player to win the Triple Crown; He was 31 years old during his remarkable 1934 campaign. Freeman is 34 years old. He has a .324 average since the start of 2023 and is expected to enter the batter’s box with a lot of runners on base, as he likely ranks last in the best triplet of us. Ever seen in the lineup. With a slight increase in power output, Freeman has a chance.

Corey Seager, Rangers
While Ohtani flirted with the Triple Crown last year, Seager, who finished second in American League MVP voting, could have been a real threat to win if not for injuries. He batted a career-high .327 with 33 home runs and 96 RBIs, but missed 40 games with a sore left hand and right thumb. If we extrapolate those numbers to 162 games, Seager would have led the Young Circuit with 45 homers and 130 RBI. Good health is difficult to project for Seager, who has played fewer than 140 games in four of the last five full seasons.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
It’s tempting to look at Guerrero’s numbers from his MVP-caliber 2021 campaign — .311 average, 48 home runs, 111 RBIs — and just say, “Well, if he can repeat that season….” Unfortunately, the Dominican It hasn’t even come close to duplicating the performance since. Although he continues to put up stellar hitting metrics, Vlad Jr. had 26 home runs, a .264 average and a .780 OPS in 156 games last year. There are many theories about what caused the decline in its production, but no definitive answers. However, Guerrero is only 24 years old, so, the Dominican has time to regain his previous magic.

Bryce Harper, Phyllis
Harper had one of those magical seasons in 2015, when he led the National League with 42 home runs and finished with a .330 average, three thousandths away from winning the batting title. Six years after winning his first Most Valuable Player award, Harper won his second trophy in 2021 after hitting 35 home runs and hitting .309. Although he has surpassed 100 RBIs only once in his 12-year career, his RBI standpoint has benefited. Solid Phillies lineup. Additionally, Citizens Bank Park should be a deciding factor in Harper’s home run total. The key to that will be his decision about the strike zone; Harper’s rate of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone in 2015 and 2021 was near the 70th percentile. He was below the 25th percentile in each of the last two seasons and hit .290 during that stretch.

Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves; Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Barring a certain change, neither Acuna Jr. nor Betts will win the batting Triple Crown. That’s not a bold prediction. The reason is simple: hitting first in the order hurts your chances of driving in a run. This happens when you are guaranteed to see at least one base-empty plate. How many triple crown winners have batted first in the order? None—unless you want to count the at-bats Gehrig and Mickey Mantle were first in the lineup in 1934 and 1956, respectively. Bates set a leadoff hitter record with 107 RBIs last year (Acu had 106).

Acuna and Bates were two of the best players in all of baseball by BWAR, and they could be the best again in 2024. But as long as they remain the leadoff hitters in their respective lineups, the hitting triple crown will remain out of reach.

Fernando Tetis Jr., parent; Julio Rodriguez, Mariners
Tatis and Rodriguez spent 45 games in the first order last year, so both Dominicans deal with some of the limitations of the previous pair of stars. Both have the type of power to lead the league in hits; Tatis leads the Old Circuit in four-corner hits with 42 in 2021, and J-Rod hit it 32 times last year at just 22 years old. However, even if these two hit a full season hitting second or third in the lineup, it will be difficult for both of them to contend in the batting average department because their swings on pitches outside the zone are higher than empty and swing rates. Any other player on this list.

Mike Trout, Angels
We’ve seen Trout put up incredible numbers despite missing significant playing time due to injuries. For example, the slugger hit 40 homers in just 119 games in 2022. He has three seasons with at least 40 home runs and five complete seasons with an average of .300 or higher. But in addition to Trout’s injury history, there may be another obstacle preventing him from winning the Triple Crown: the Angels’ lineup. 10 of the 12 Triple Crown winners since 1920 played for teams that finished in the top 10 in runs scored. 2023 Angels, along with Ohtani, are 16th in scoring. While it’s hard to predict a team’s production from one year to the next, it’s a wonder if the 32-year-old slugger has enough to reach triple figures in RBI.

Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
Goldschmidt’s window to win the batting triple crown may have already closed at the age of 36, but the veteran deserves to be in the discussion as he had impressive numbers in all three categories not long ago. Goldschmidt began the final month of the 2022 season with a .335 average, 33 home runs and 105 RBI. A phenomenal September resulted in him surpassing Jeff McNeil, Kyle Schwarber and Pete Alonso in the respective categories, but Goldie ended up earning the NL Most Valuable Player award.

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