Winning the Triple Crown is hard.

As Miguel Cabrera is showing, it's plenty difficult even when you're leading the league in all three categories with less than two weeks to go. When we looked at the American League batting race on Sunday, Cabrera was tied for the lead league with 42 home runs, he held a commanding lead in the RBI category (he led by 8), and his .332 average led Mike Trout's .325 by seven points.

In only four days, Cabrera has fallen out of the home run lead, one behind Josh Hamilton (43 to 42) and tied with Edwin Encarnacion (things might be a little different if Alex Gordon hadn't made this fantastic play on Wednesday). Adam Dunn is also right behind him with 41 home runs. The RBI lead has increased to nine, but the batting average race has changed considerably. Minnesota's Joe Mauer has pushed himself into the conversation, passing Trout by only .0006 points. They're both hitting .323, but Mauer is at .3232 while Trout is only at .3226. Meanwhile, Cabrera's 3-for-20 batting line this week has dropped his average to .327 (actually .3266). 

Let's see what these three candidates need to do to end with the batting crown next week. Cabrera's Tigers and Trout's Angels have seven games left to play, while Mauer's Twins have six. We'll assume four at-bats per remaining game for each player.

For Cabrera to win…

If Mauer hits… His AVG will be… Cabrera must hit… To win with
an AVG of…
<.200 (4-for-24) .3164 3-for-28 .3168
.250 (6-for-24) .3200 6-for-28 .3216
~.300 (7-for-24) .3218 7-for-28 .3232
.333 (8-for-24) .3236 8-for-28 .3248
.500 (12-for-24) .3309 12-for-28 .3312

For Mauer…

If Cabrera hits… His AVG will be… Mauer must hit… To win with
an AVG of…
<.200 (5-for-28) .3200 7-for-24 .3218
.250 (7-for-28) .3232 8-for-24 .3236
~.300 (8-for-28) .3248 9-for-24 .3255
.321 (9-for-28) .3264 10-for-24 .3273
.500 (14-for-28) .3344 14-for-24 .3345

And for Trout to win…

If Cabrera hits… His AVG will be… Trout must hit… To win with
an AVG of…
<.200 (5-for-28) .3200 8-for-28 .3208
.250 (7-for-28) .3232 10-for-28 .3244
~.300 (8-for-28) .3248 11-for-28 .3262
.321 (9-for-28) .3264 12-for-28 .3280
.500 (14-for-28) .3344 16-for-28 .3351

We'll check back once more next week if the race remains close.

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Larry ... I assume that if Cabrera had less than 502 PAs, they'd adjust his batting average by adding outs, like they do for the overall batting average leader. Correct?

I'm trying to imagine the brouhaha if some player led in HR and RBI, but lost out on the Triple Crown due to fewer than the required PAs and the addition of outs to make up for it.
Probably a moot issue... If you don't have enough PAs to qualify for batting title there is no way you are going to lead in both HR and RBI.
Good point. It'd be really, really hard to lead in those two categories when you're likely 100-200 PAs behind everyone else.

That said, the rules would add on outs to the leader's PA total to get to 502 like any other year (well, almost any other year). If that knocked him below the lead league, I'm pretty sure everyone would understand. I actually think more people would be upset if the extra outs actually qualified him for the title - people never like that "funny math stuff".
There is no special triple crown rule for batting average calculation so it seems logical to assume that everyone would just use the normal season batting average rules for players under 502 PAs.

It would be hard to imagine a situation where the league RBI leader would have fewer than 502 PAs though. I can see a down year in HRs where a power stud like Stanton could do it. But to have the most RBIs when you are down probably 150+ PAs to the probable league leader is hard to imagine. This year, only Allen Craig comes close. He's 21 behind Braun and 18 PAs away from 502 as of today (so he might get there anyway).

I don't think there would be any real controversy about having the HR and RBI leader having to add AB to get to 502 PA for triple crown qualification though. It's one of the many "accepted" things in baseball that just are.