Going to extremes

    Getting three hits in one big-league game is an impressive accomplishment. Repeating that feat multiple times in a single season is nothing short of amazing.

    The latter adjective definitely applies to Freddie Freeman. The first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers not only topped the majors with 199 hits in 2022, but he also led the way with 20 games of three or more hits.

    I waded through last season’s stats in search of extreme performances like Freeman’s. Today’s story focuses on the 2022 leaders in the American and National Leagues in three categories for hitters and another three for pitchers.

    Additional details — including each club’s leaders in all six categories — can be found in the 418-page Baseball’s Best (and Worst) 2023 Yearbook.

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    American League batters

    Three or more hits in a game: Amed Rosario, a shortstop for the Cleveland Guardians, and Luis Arraez, an infielder for the Minnesota Twins, tied for first place in this category. Each rapped at least three hits in 17 different games in 2022. Arraez also won the AL batting title with a .316 average.

    Two or more homers in a game: Who else but baseball’s home-run king? Aaron Judge, an outfielder for the New York Yankees, finished the year with 62 homers. He went over the fence at least twice on 11 separate occasions.

    Five or more RBIs in a game: You might be expecting Judge once again, but you’d be wrong. Jose Ramirez, a third baseman for the Cleveland Guardians, was the league leader here. He drove home at least five runs in three games.

    National League batters

    Three or more hits in a game: Freddie Freeman, as noted above, rapped at least three hits in 20 different games, the highest total in the National League and indeed in both leagues. Jeff McNeil, the NL’s batting-average champ (.326), was second with 16 games. McNeil played second base for the New York Mets.

    Two or more homers in a game: Kyle Schwarber, a left fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, topped the league with 46 home runs. He also led in multi-homer games with eight.

    Five or more RBIs in a game: First baseman Pete Alonso set the pace by driving home at least five runs for the Mets in four games.

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    American League pitchers

    Two or fewer earned runs in seven or more innings: A pitcher is credited with a quality start when he works at least six innings and allows no more than three earned runs. But that can translate to an ERA as high as 4.50, considerably worse than the big-league average of 3.96. This category measures what could be called true quality starts, requiring at least seven innings with no more than two earned runs. Shane Bieber of the Guardians met that standard 12 times in 2022, leading the league.

    Ten or more strikeouts in a game: Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels was the only American League pitcher to register double-digit strikeouts in double-digit games, 10 in all.

    No baserunners in a save: This category might also be known as clean saves. It counts the number of times a reliever didn’t allow a single baserunner while being credited with a save. Emmanuel Clase of the Guardians topped the AL with 22.

    National League pitchers

    Two or fewer earned runs in seven or more innings: Sandy Alcantara proved his Cy Young Award worthiness in this category. The ace for the Miami Marlins accumulated 20 true quality starts, defined as two or fewer earned runs in at least seven innings. No other NL pitcher had more than 11.

    Ten or more strikeouts in a game: Carlos Rodon of the San Francisco Giants piled up at least 10 strikeouts on 11 occasions last season. The two runners-up worked for the Milwaukee Brewers: Corbin Burnes (nine games of double-digit strikeouts) and Brandon Woodruff (seven).

    No baserunners in a save: Kenley Jansen of the Atlanta Braves earned 21 clean saves, allowing no runners while closing the door on the opposition. It was the NL’s highest total in 2022.

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