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  • Ethan Semendinger

Triple Crown Chase: NL

It happened really appeared to be real, but with 3 weeks left in the season, we have an outside chance for 2 triple crowns this year.

 

Paul Goldschmidt vs the National League

Batting Average: .325 (2nd in NL; Freddie Freeman leads at .331)


Since having a batting average of .330 going into the All-Star Break, Paul Goldschmidt's post-ASB has been below average, or at least by his standards (pun not intended). After the games on September 11th, Goldschmidt is now sitting at a .325 average, which has not been helped by his .313 average since the ASB. He is also a considerable chunk of change away from his high-water mark of .341 which he had after going 3 for 6 on August 20th.


His biggest challenger comes via another first baseman in Freddie Freeman, who is currently hitting to a .331 average, which is also his high-water mark on the season. While Goldschmidt isn't far behind when looking at the full season, Freddie Freeman is in a much better position than it seems. Since the All-Star Break, he has hit to a .351 batting average.


A difference of just .006 in batting average could be overtaken by Goldschmidt before seasons end, so much to the point that if he goes 4 for 4 in his next game it would bring his average back to .330. Obviously, that's not the easiest thing to do, but Goldschmidt has already done so twice this year, so it's not unreasonable. The bigger problem is how Freeman will continue to play. If he slows down at all, Goldschmidt has a good shot.

 

Home Runs: 35 (3rd in NL; Kyle Schwarber leads with 37)


While Albert Pujols is now just 3 home runs away from 700 in his career, it is going to be harder for Paul Goldschmidt to break his 2 home run barrier. Now, that's also because Kyle Schwarber will also be able to hit home runs of his own to keep Goldschmidt away.


Since the All-Star Break, Goldschmidt has hit 15 home runs while Schwarber has hit just 8. Going the way that it has been, Goldschmidt should be able to easily catch up to Schwarber within the next 3 weeks.


Now, Goldschmidt is also 3rd in the NL for home runs. The player in 2nd is Austin Riley, who has hit 36 home runs so far this season. Luckily for Goldschmidt, though, he's not much of a threat based on projections as he's hit just 9 home runs since the All-Star Break.

 

Runs Batted In: 109 (T-1st in NL; Pete Alonso also has 109)


Unfortunately one of the key components of the Triple Crown, the RBI, is something that is not entirely controlled by the player. Each player who wants to compete for the triple crown essentially must also have a good team- or at the very least a few good players hitting ahead of them- to help them gather their fair share of RBI's over the course of the season. For Paul Goldschmidt, that really isn't an issue.


On the flip-side, it's also not an issue for Pete Alonso. It's no coincidence that the two of them are tied atop the NL rankings for RBI's.


I'd argue that Pete Alonso is in a better position to keep racking up RBI's as the main power bat of the New York Mets, and considering the team as a whole has a .330 OBP which is also in line with his .344 OBP. Unfortunately for Goldschmidt, he has Nolan Arenado collecting many RBI's of his own (93 this season) and his team is hitting to a .328 OBP, which is helped a lot by Goldschmidt's .413 OBP.

 

The Verdict:

Ultimately, this chase is going to come down to the very very end of the season. Paul Goldschmidt is far too good of a player not to make this competitive until the very end. And, since it will come down to the very end, Paul Goldschmidt has the advantage in every single race.


The St. Louis Cardinals finish the season with 6 straight games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mind you, the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 3rd worst record (51-88) and host the worst run differential (-214) in the MLB. That is going to play extremely favorably for Goldschmidt as the end of the season- and likely the closing in or holding of some of these numbers- comes around. He'll be able to play 6 straight games against an opponent who Paul Goldschmidt has also crushed this season.


He has a combined .452/.558/.857/1.415 quadruple slash in 11 games against the Pirates this season, which came with 4 home runs and 11 RBI's. Those numbers would be nearly impossible to replicate over another 6 more games, but the Cardinals could be trying to compete for a better playoff seeding in those final games, which would mean better lineup protection for Goldschmidt and more chances the team continues to really play hard into the playoffs.


Though, if you want my honest opinion, I don't believe that Goldschmidt will get this done. Unfortunately, I think he's going to have a tough time catching up to Freddie Freeman before the end of the season for the batting title. Freeman has been hitting too well recently for me to bet against him. He'll catch and pass by Schwarber and Alonso, but he'll fall just short for no fault of his own.

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