What is the Triple Crown in Baseball?

One of the truly rare achievements in professional sports.
Written by Mark Bailey
Last updated on

If you’re a fan of baseball, then you’ve probably heard of the “Triple Crown.” But what is it, exactly? And who has won it? Keep reading to find out!

  • The Triple Crown is an offensive achievement in baseball where a player leads the league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.
  • To win the triple crown, a player must have skill in power-hitting, average-hitting, and driving in runs.
  • The triple crown is difficult to achieve because it requires leading the league offensively in three different categories. It is rare for one player to be skilled enough at all three offensive aspects of the game.
  • There have been 14 players who have achieved MLB Triple Crown status (16 times total), with Miguel Cabrera being the most recent winner in 2012.
  • Shane Bieber was the most recent pitcher to win a pitching Triple Crown (2020).

To understand what the Triple Crown is, you have to consider all that hitters do.

Every season, you will see some of the best offensive players in the world jockey for the lead in an offensive category. Hitters can often fit into categories that match their skills. Some hitters are great at getting on base; some are great at driving in runs; some are prolific power hitters, and some are great at all three.

The Triple Crown award is an offensive achievement where an individual player leads in all three of the following batting statistics: batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (BA, HR, RBI). It’s called the Triple Crown because as the winner, you are the crown, or champion, statistically in three different categories. It is a very rare feat. 

How do you win the triple crown? 

Winning a Triple Crown can be difficult. It is a combination of power, hitting for average, and also driving in runs. Two of those categories are determined solely by your skill (home runs and average).

However, the third statistic runs batted in depends on your teammates getting on base AND your ability to hit with runners on base. There’s a reason why this achievement is so rare.

Often, batters that hit for average aren’t power hitters. The reverse is often true as well. Power hitters may have a good average, but that’s not the same as leading the league on average. Notice that none of the home-run kings (Ruth, Aaron, or Bonds) are on the list of winners. 

One last thing to clarify—you only need to lead your league in all three categories. For example, if you are a hitter in the AL (American League), you do not have to also beat out hitters in the NL (National League). 

How many people have won the triple crown in baseball?

The Triple Crown is one of the most challenging feats to achieve. Aaron Judge nearly accomplished the feat this year (2022), but it has been ten years since the last time it was done. In 2012, Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown. Prior to Cabrera, it had been 45 years since the last person who had achieved triple crown status—Carl Yazstremski in 1967.

The triple crown has only been won 16 times in MLB by 14 different people (two players accomplished it twice). If you include the statistics from the Negro Leagues, that number grows by ten and includes seven additional players. 

Who has won the triple crown in baseball?

The Triple Crown has been accomplished 16 times by 14 players so far in MLB history. Aaron Judge came close in 2022 to adding his name to the list, but the most recent member of the exclusive club was Miguel Cabrera in 2012. 

1878Paul Hines
1887Tip O’Niell
1901Nap Lajoie
1909Ty Cobb
1922Rogers Hornsby
1925Rogers Hornsby
1933Chuck Klein
1933Jimmie Foxx
1934Lou Gehrig
1937Joe Medwick
1942Ted Williams
1947Ted Williams
1956Mickey Mantle
1966Frank Robinson
1967Carl Yastrzemski
2012Miguel Cabrera

What is the triple crown in baseball pitching?

The triple crown in pitching is also a fantastic feat. A pitcher needs to lead in wins, strikeouts, and ERA to win it. Though this is still quite a statistical accomplishment, the list for pitchers is a bit more extensive. The last winner was Shane Bieber in 2020.

Not that the pitching accomplishments are easy, but the statistics are a bit more complimentary than the batting statistics. You are more likely to find a dominant pitcher who wins a lot and also has a lower ERA and a higher strikeout count. Those are not statistical anomalies. This is different than finding a power hitter who can also lead the league in batting average. 


Who was the last triple crown winner in baseball?

Miguel Cabrera, 2012. 

Who was the last pitcher to have a triple crown?

Shane Bieber 2020 

Has anyone won the triple crown more than once?

Two players have won the MLB Triple Crown twice: Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams. 

Did Babe Ruth get a triple crown?


Final thoughts

Leading the league in three offensive categories is no small accomplishment. Considering that there are fewer Triple Crown winners than perfect games thrown, that says a lot. There have been 23 perfect games thrown in MLB history. That’s seven more than the seasons with a Triple Crown winner. 

Why is it so difficult? Hitters often fall into different categories. If you are a high-average hitter, you tend not to fit the mold of a power hitter. If you are a power hitter, you tend to have more strikeouts and a lower average. If you hit a high average, you tend to hit higher in the lineup. Hitting higher in the lineup usually means having fewer opportunities to bat for runs. In fact, you are usually the run being batted in.

Considering all these factors, you can understand why leading in these three offensive categories is such a huge deal. You have to be a very versatile player with RBI opportunities in order to come close to being in contention. If you look at the list and also notice how spread out the winners are, you could conclude that the era of baseball is not a determinant for winners. It seems to be just as hard in the 21st century as it was in the 19th. 

In regards to Triple Crown winners who are pitchers, it is still a difficult accomplishment to attain. Your team partially determines the win part of the equation. You could be a dominant pitcher with a low ERA, but if your team doesn’t score runs, that could eliminate you from contention.

However, the combination of ERA and strikeouts could go hand-in-hand better than HRs and batting average. This isn’t to say that pitchers have it easy, but there seems to be a better chance of a pitcher winning a Triple Crown than a hitter.