Albert Pujols is once again defying the odds and shredding the history books while the young “Big Red Machine,” Joey Votto, is establishing his reputation as one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. Both have a legitimate chance of winning the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

So we thought.

Last month, we were all scratching our heads laughing at the “fool,” Charlie Manuel, for selecting super-utility man Omar Infante of the Atlanta Braves to the National League All-Star team.

One month later, Infante has proven his All-Star ability and is on track to win the National League batting title.

Now who’s laughing?

Infante has the league’s best batting average at .347. However, to qualify for the batting title, a player must have a total of 502 plate appearances. Infante is currently at 342.

That means that Infante must play the remaining 35 games of the season and average 4.4 plate appearances each game.

This is a very unlikely scenario and nearly impossible if the Braves can clinch a playoff spot at the end of the season and Bobby Cox decides to rest his players, but in the world of baseball, there is always a loophole.

The Loophole: If a player doesn’t finish with 502 plate appearances, you can the add necessary hitless  plate appearances to get him there. If his new batting average is still good enough to lead the league, he gets his batting title.

As of right now, here are the standings in the NL Triple Crown categories:

Average: 1. Votto (.326), 2. Pujols (.320)

Homers: 1. Pujols (33), T-2. Votto (31)

RBIs: 1. Pujols (92), 2. Votto (90)

The Triple Crown race could be even tighter than the race for the NL Central, but if Infante can keep his batting average over .340, there may be no Triple Crown; just a utility man running into the shadows with his batting title and a story to tell for ages. 

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