September 23, 2011
First came "Ducky."
Now here comes the "Bison."
With less than a week to go in the regular season, Kemp leads the NL in RBIs by five (he has 118), is second in home runs by one (to Albert Pujols(notes), who has 37) and is four points behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun(notes) for the batting title (.330 to .326). (So, NL MVP isn't the only thing Braun could prevent Kemp from winning.)
But with the notable exception of True Blue L.A. earlier this week, few have taken notice of Kemp's strong challenge at what would be an incredibly rare accomplishment. Only 15 batting Triple Crowns, by 13 different players, have been achieved in major league history. Boston's Carl Yastrzemski did it most recently — all the way back in 1967 — and nobody has done it in the National League since Joe "Ducky" Medwick way, waaaay back in 1937.
Even though we're at the point in the season where players have compiled so many at-bats that batting averages seem to move glacially, the deficit against Braun could be made up in one night. If Braun goes 0 for 4 in his next game (no offense, Ryan), his average would drop from .330 to .3273. Conversely, if Kemp goes 2 for 4 in his next game, his average jumps to .3276. And if one of those hits is a homer (and Pujols stays in the ballpark) — poof! — we have a Triple Crown leader.
So, it's still something of a longshot that Kemp will join the very short list of Triple Crown winners, but it's something to root for in the final week of a season with "meh" pennant races.
Another thing to watch for: Kemp winning MVP and teammate Clayton Kershaw(notes) winning the Cy Young on a team that didn't make the playoffs. That hasn't happened since the 1962 Dodgers finished second with Maury Wills and Don Drysdale taking home the respective honors.