What is the Triple Crown in MLB? Explaining baseball's rare statistical trifecta & how often it happens

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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

Year Player Team League Avg. HR RBI
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
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