It’s still “early” in baseball terms, but Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp have done nothing but put on shows. Their superb play has gotten more attention than Philip Humber’s perfect game. Hamilton and Kemp are going for the Triple Crown in their respective leagues. The Triple Crown is revered, by many, to be the greatest single-season accomplishment in all of baseball.
A few days ago, Hamilton went 5-for-5 with four home runs and eight RBI. That has only been done 16 times in the history of baseball. It’s an even rarer than a perfect game (21 in baseball history). Hamilton is currently batting .406 with 14 homers, 36 RBI, and an OPS of 1.298. Those numbers are absolutely outrageous in the post-Steroid Era. A funny fact is he is on-pace for 76 home runs and 194 RBI this season. I expect his numbers to drop off some because I don’t feel that this type of production is sustainable for an entire season. The last person to bat .400 was Ted Williams (.409), Barry Bonds was the last one to hit 70+ home runs in a season and no one has ever had more than 191 RBI in one season (Hack Wilson had 191 in 1930). However, I do expect Mr. Hamilton to win the AL MVP even though I didn’t project him to win the AL MVP at the beginning of the season. Hamilton was the AL MVP back in 2010 and has been one of the main reasons that the Texas Rangers have made it to two consecutive World Series, despite being injured in both of those seasons.
On the other hand, Kemp has hit walk-off homers and gotten the Los Angeles Dodgers off to a great start. Kemp’s average has dropped a bit, but his numbers are still solid. Kemp is batting .386 with 12 home runs, 27 RBI and an OPS of 1.249. Kemp is on-pace for 63 home runs and 141 RBI. Kemp is trying to get the Dodgers back into the playoffs after missing out last season and Kemp is trying to capture his first MVP award. I felt Kemp was robbed last season when Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won it. Kemp’s numbers were better than Braun’s almost across the board, but because the Brewers made it to the playoffs, the award went to Braun. Kemp is one of the best centerfielders in the game of baseball and I feel there is nothing standing in his way this season. The Dodgers have followed his lead since Opening Day.
Who would have thought that the two best players, at this time in baseball, would be centerfielders? I bet a lot of people thought Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson were going to give the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim a leg-up in the American League West. But the Rangers have a better offense and their pitching has been pretty good so far. The Rangers have a 4.5 game lead on the Oakland Athletics and the Angels are in last place, four games below .500.
The Dodgers are in first place as well, five games ahead of the San Francisco Giants. The darlings of last season, Arizona Diamondbacks, are in third place, 6.5 games behind the Dodgers.
Hamilton and Kemp have been on their game so far this season. If one of them can keep it up, we might have our first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski did it with the Boston Red Sox in 1967.
If both of them keep it up, we might be looking at the first time two players have won the Triple Crown in the same season since Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein accomplished that feat in 1933.
As the temperature heats up, I expect these guys to keep their guns a blazing.