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Aaron Judge eyes Triple Crown: Yankees star has AL’s best batting average during historic season

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By any measure, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is enjoying a historic 2022 season. He is one away from tying Roger Maris’ American League single-season record of 61 homers, and thanks to a torrid September, Judge has now taken charge of the batting title race. The prodigious power and lofty average give Judge a shot at the Triple Crown.

Over in the National League, Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is making his own run at the Triple Crown, and only once in history has there been a Triple Crown winner in both leagues in the same season: Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx (Athletics) and Chuck Klein (Phillies) did it in 1933. Judge and Goldschmidt have a chance, albeit a small one, to do it this year.

Here’s what you need to know about Judge’s Triple Crown chase as the regular season winds down.

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Most recent AL Triple Crown winners

There has only been one Triple Crown winner in the last half-century, and each of the last six Triple Crown winners have come from the American League. You have to go all the way back to Joe Medwick with the 1937 Cardinals for the last NL Triple Crown. Here are those last six AL Triple Crowns:

Miguel Cabrera, 2012 Tigers (won MVP)

.330

44

139

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Carl Yastrzemski, 1967 Red Sox (won MVP)

.326

44

121

Frank Robinson, 1966 Orioles (won MVP)

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.316

49

122

Mickey Mantle, 1956 Yankees (won MVP)

.353

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52

130

Ted Williams, 1947 Red Sox (MVP runner-up)

.343

32

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114

Ted Williams, 1942 Red Sox (MVP runner-up)

.356

36

137

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Batting average

As a massive human (listed at 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds) who hits a lot of home runs, Judge is often stereotyped as a lumbering all-or-nothing slugger. That is not the case. He is a gifted natural hitter who hit .287 last season and entered 2022 with a career .276 batting average in nearly 2,500 plate appearances. Despite his enormous strike zone, Judge hits for a solid average.

Players must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game to qualify for the batting title (that’s 502 plate appearances for the full 162-game season). Here is the AL batting race through Sept. 22:

  1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: .316
  2. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: .314
  3. Luis Arraez, Twins: .313
  4. José Abreu, White Sox: .308
  5. Nate Lowe, Rangers: .307

If that average looks low for a potential batting champ, it is. Last year, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel won the AL batting title with a .319 average. It was the lowest average for a batting champ in either league since Justin Morneau won the NL title with a .319 average for the Rockies in 2014. The last AL batting champ with an average that low was Rod Carew with the 1972 Twins (.318).

Batting average has gradually declined in recent years, prompting MLB to limit defensive shifts beginning in 2023.

Home runs

They say you can’t predict baseball, but I can safely predict Judge will win the home run title this season. Not just in the AL either. In all of baseball. He holds a commanding lead. Here’s the AL home run leaderboard through Sept. 21 (no plate appearance minimum to qualify):

  1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: 60
  2. Yordan Alvarez, Houston: 37
  3. Mike Trout, Angels: 36
  4. Shohei Ohtani, Angels: 34

The last player to lead baseball in home runs by as many as 14 was Jimmie Foxx in 1933. He hit 48 homers that season and Babe Ruth was a distant second with 34. Judge has a chance to do that (and then some) this year. He’s going to win the home run title. The only question is by how much.

Judge also won the home run title with 52 as a rookie in 2017. The only active players with multiple home run titles are Cabrera (2008 AL and 2012 AL), Nolan Arenado (2015 NL, 2016 NL and 2018 NL), Albert Pujols (2009 NL and 2010 NL) and Giancarlo Stanton (2014 NL and 2017 NL).

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Runs batted in

Judge is so much more than a home run hitter. He entered September with an incredible .363/.504/.780 batting line with runners in scoring position, so he can give you that single to the opposite field when that’s all you need. Not everything goes over the wall. That said, homers drive up RBI totals. Here is the AL RBI leaderboard through Sept. 21 (no plate appearance minimum to qualify):

  1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: 128
  2. José Ramírez, Guardians: 117
  3. Kyle Tucker, Astros: 102
  4. Adolis García, Rangers: 95
  5. Yordan Alvarez, Astros: 94

Judge has a (very good) chance to become baseball’s first 130 RBI man since JD Martinez had 132 with the 2018 Red Sox. He could become the first to reach 140 RBI since Prince Fielder (Brewers) and Ryan Howard (Phillies) both had 141 in 2009. No AL player has had 140 RBI in a season since Alex Rodriguez had 156 with the 2007 Yankees.

Ramírez is lurking in the RBI race, though Judge has a comfortable lead at the moment, and the home run title is in the bag. The Triple Crown chase will come down to whether Judge can reel in the batting title as well. Right now, he’s in line to do just that and, yes, win the Triple Crown.



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Trevor Lawrence’s response to bad game will say a lot about 2022 Jaguars

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Trevor Lawrence turned the ball over five times against the Eagles. How he responds this week vs. the Texans will be telling.



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Is Tyler Herro Worth His Contract Extension?

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(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

 

The Miami Heat have been one of the NBA’s best teams over the last three years, and one of the biggest reasons why has been guard Tyler Herro.

The 13th overall pick in the 2019 draft, he had a breakout season last year and won the Sixth Man of the Year award.

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As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, there was some talk about whether he would sign an extension with Miami or if it would trade him elsewhere, perhaps in a deal for a big star such as Donovan Mitchell or Kevin Durant.

But Herro has remained put, and he has now agreed to a four-year, $130 million extension.

That translates to an average of over $30 million a year for the 6-foot-5 22-year-old.

Herro has become a very good player, but is he worth (or going to be worth) that much money?

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Herro Has Become A Spark Plug For Miami

The University of Kentucky product came to the Heat at a time in which they were rebuilding.

Dwyane Wade, the greatest player in team history, had just retired, and it was thought they may be in for a prolonged rebuilding process.

Even when they traded for All-Star forward Jimmy Butler, not much was expected from them, as ESPN picked them to finish seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 43-39 record.

Instead, Miami went 44-29 and took the fifth seed in the conference, then went all the way to the NBA Finals where it lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Herro was a revelation for it, as he averaged 13.5 points in 27.4 minutes per game in the regular season while shooting 38.9 percent from 3-point range.

Last season, he increased those numbers to 20.7 points a game on 39.9 percent from downtown, in addition to 4.0 assists per contest, which was up from 2.2 his rookie year.

While he looked like a very dependable spot-up shooter a couple of years ago, he has emerged as something of a creator off the dribble.

Of the NBA’s contending teams, the Heat are perhaps the most offensively challenged, and they desperately need someone like Herro to take that next step forward into legit All-Star territory in order to bolster their chances of winning a world championship.

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Can Herro take that next step?

 

A Look At Herro’s Offense

For evidence of Herro’s growth, look no further than the percentage of his baskets that were assisted on.

That number went from 47.4 percent as a rookie to 33.4 percent last year on 2-pointers, and from 78.4 percent to 70.9 percent on 3-pointers.

Miami will play its first preseason game of the new season on Tuesday when it faces the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it will be interesting to see how much better Herro will be in his fourth year in the NBA.

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If he shows continued improvement, especially as a shot creator, not just for himself but also for his teammates, head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to increase his workload and possibly even move him into the starting lineup.

In addition to occasionally making the All-Star team, that’s the stage Herro needs to get to in order to prove to everyone he’s worth every penny of his new extension.

The post Is Tyler Herro Worth His Contract Extension? appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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49ers Made A Powerful Statement On Monday

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(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

 

Coming into Monday’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, there was a considerable amount of concern about the 49ers.

Their offense was struggling mightily, and after an ugly 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos the previous week, some were even speculating on whether head coach Kyle Shanahan could or should be on the hot seat.

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One of the funny things about the NFL is how quickly a team’s fortunes and perception can drastically switch with just one win.

That win came against the Rams, and it wasn’t exactly a squeaker where one or two plays decided the contest.

No, the 49ers dominated the Rams, winning by a score of 24-9 and controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football very well.

San Francisco is now 2-2 and tied with Los Angeles and the other two teams in the NFC West, and suddenly, it is looking like a potential Super Bowl contender again.

Things can change quickly in the NFL.

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The 49ers’ Defense Stepped Up Against The World Champions

While San Francisco’s offense looked very solid for a change, it was its defense that made its mark and won this contest for it.

The Rams, who looked very potent offensively last season, were held without a touchdown on Monday, and they had lots of trouble making any big yardage plays.

They went just 5 of 15 on third downs, and although Cooper Kupp had 122 yards and tight end Tyler Higbee had 73 yards, very few of them were gained when things mattered most.

L.A. quarterback Matthew Stafford was harrassed into one interception and seven sacks, and overall he posted a very dismal 71.0 passer rating.

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With just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Rams were down 17-9 and had a first down on the 49ers’ 44-yard line.

Instead of marching further downfield to perhaps tie the game, second-year safety Talanoa Hufunga intercepted a pass intended for Kupp and ran it all the way back for the touchdown that sealed the win for the Niners.

They came into this contest tops in points allowed, yards allowed, first downs allowed and passing touchdowns allowed.

Hufunga may be developing into a star, while middle linebacker Fred Warner continues his ascent as one of the league’s best at his position.

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As the old saying goes, defense wins championships.

 

Deebo Samuel Was Deebo Samuel

Through the first three games of the season, Samuel, who was named to the All-Pro First Team last year, had a relatively quiet 131 receiving yards and 111 yards on the ground.

But offensively, he was the unquestioned star for the 49ers on Monday, as he tallied 115 yards and a touchdown in the air.

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His biggest play came inside of three minutes left in the second quarter when he made a catch in traffic and broke at least one tackle while taking the ball 57 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

It was his best play so far this season, and perhaps it’s the one that will take the proverbial cap off his overall game and be a prelude to some more big games in the near future.

The post 49ers Made A Powerful Statement On Monday appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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