The best things in life are ... three?
In a sport teeming with tradition, the Triple Crown is one statistical oddity that captures the interest of even the most stoic of fans.
A batter has managed the feat just one time in the past 45 years. Given its rarity, it's no surprise baseball fans far and wide have been tracking Aaron Judge's quest to become the latest member of the exclusive club of Triple Crown winners.
But what is the Triple Crown? And just how challenging is it for a player to win? The Sporting News has all the answers.
What is the Triple Crown in baseball?
The Triple Crown refers to when a player leads his respective league in batting average, home runs and RBIs over the course of a single season.
Historically, those three statistics have been the benchmark for batting excellence in any given year. Unsurprisingly, when tied together with one another, the trifecta becomes one of baseball's greatest accomplishments.
How many players have won the Triple Crown?
To date, 27 players have won the Triple Crown. That includes players playing in the Negro Leagues.
The first player to capture the trifecta was Paul Hines of the Providence Grays in 1878. He did so with a .358 batting average, four homers and 50 RBIs, fairly unimpressive numbers in 2022 but game-breaking stats nearly 150 years ago.
Who was the last player to win the Triple Crown?
The last player to earn Triple Crown distinction was Miguel Cabrera in 2012. The Tigers slugger posted a .330 average, pounded 44 homers and drove in 139 runs en route to winning his first AL MVP Award.
Cabrera's stellar season ended a 45-year drought in which no player qualified for the trifecta. Prior to Cabrera, the last player to nab wear the Triple Crown was Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox in 1967.
Who has won the most Triple Crowns?
Four players have won the Triple Crown on multiple occasions. The group is led by Negro League great Oscar Charleston, who nabbed an absurd three trifectas in five years from 1921-25.
He is joined by a trio of Baseball Hall of Famers in Rogers Hornsby, Josh Gibson and Ted Williams as players who have the distinction more than once. Hornsby, Gibson and Williams all nabbed the Triple Crown twice during their storied careers.
List of MLB Triple Crown winners
Here is a list of the 27 Triple Crown winners in major league history, including the Negro Leagues, as well as their respective stat lines for each season:
All stats from Baseball-Reference.com
|1878||Paul Hines||Providence Grays||National League||.358||4||50|
|1887||Tip O'Neill||St. Louis Browns||American Association||.435||14||123|
|1901||Nap Lajoie||Philadelphia Athletics||American League||.426||14||125|
|1909||Ty Cobb||Detroit Tigers||American League||.377||9||109|
|1912||Heinie Zimmermann||Chicago Cubs||National League||.372||14||104|
|1921||Oscar Charleston||Homestead Grays||Negro National League||.433||15||91|
|1922||Rogers Hornsby||St. Louis Cardinals||National League||.401||42||152|
|1923||Heavy Johnson||Kansas City Monarchs||Negro National League||.406||20||120|
|1924||Oscar Charleston||NY Lincoln Giants||Eastern Colored League||.405||15||63|
|1925||Rogers Hornsby||St. Louis Cardinals||National League||.403||39||143|
|1925||Oscar Charleston||Homestead Grays||Eastern Colored League||.427||20||97|
|1926||Mule Suttles||St. Louis Stars||Negro National League||.425||32||130|
|1930||Willie Wells||St. Louis Stars||Negro National League||.411||17||114|
|1933||Jimmie Foxx||Philadelphia Athletics||American League||.356||48||163|
|1933||Chuck Klein||Philadelphia Phillies||National League||.368||28||120|
|1934||Lou Gehrig||New York Yankees||American League||.363||49||165|
|1936||Josh Gibson||Pittsburgh Crawfords||Negro National League||.389||18||66|
|1937||Joe Medwick||St. Louis Cardinals||National League||.374||31||154|
|1937||Josh Gibson||Homestead Grays||Negro National League||.417||20||73|
|1942||Ted Williams||Boston Red Sox||American League||.356||36||137|
|1942||Lennie Pearson||Newark Eagles & Homestead Grays||Negro National League||.347||11||56|
|1942||Ted Strong||Kansas City Monarchs||Negro American League||.364||6||32|
|1947||Ted Williams||Boston Red Sox||American League||.343||32||114|
|1956||Mickey Mantle||New York Yankees||American League||.353||52||130|
|1966||Frank Robinson||Baltimore Orioles||American League||.316||49||122|
|1967||Carl Yastrzemski||Boston Red Sox||American League||.326||44||121|
|2012||Miguel Cabrera||Detroit Tigers||American League||.330||44||139|