With Matt Kemp on the shelf for the foreseeable future and nobody else in the National League stepping up to take over his spot as “the best in the senior league” the defacto best player in the NL falls into Joey Votto’s lap.
Votto is a good player a very good player actually he is currently on pace to break the record for most doubles in a season (a record held for 80 years by Earl Webb) but Kemp has that extra something special about him that fans and players alike want to go see. To see him gracefully chase down would be hits in the outfield or crush bombs at the plate is something special. When he said he was going to be the first player ever to go 50/50 people thought he was crazy until his torrid start to the season that made people question their own sanity for ever doubting him.
To say that honor “fell” to Votto may be a bit of a stretch but it is in no way a slight against the man but with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder moving to the AL it has created a power outage in the NL. It just shows you how much ahead of the pack Kemp really was before his injury. With that void however it has supplanted one fact: Josh Hamilton is the best player in baseball right now.
Starting the month of June with a lead in two categories for the triple crown and and being second in batting average at .338 is impressive. It is still way to early to even begin to look at his triple crown possibilities but he has been raking this season so far. The next best hitter in the American League with the potential like Hamilton has is Evan Longoria (currently on the DL) down in Tampa Bay but he has his injury issues as well.
Hamilton showed in a seven day span what being a “hot” hitter really means when he started off the week hitting 5 homeruns in 6 at bats while adding a double in there for good measure. During that week he belted 9 homers and had 18 RBIs. Many players would love to have that kind of production over a months span doing it over a week is insane.
As he has cooled off in recent weeks his leads have diminished but like all good players he will snap out of it and take a firm hold on them once again. He finally snapped out of his 8 game homerless drought on Friday when he hit his 22nd of the season. The next closest season he has had with this kind of production was 2008 when at the All-Star break he had amassed 21 homeruns and 95 RBIs.
If you were to make a list of players that can possibly hit for the triple crown Kemp and Hamilton are at the top of that very short list.
Who do you think is the best?