Beast Mode is alive and well for Matt Kemp, making him the only candidate worthy of the first National League Player of the Month nod in 2012. The Dodgers’ center fielder came out of the gates swinging, ending the month of April with nine home runs, 25 RBIs and a stellar .417 batting average. His performance helped the Dodgers post a 16-7 record in April, leaving them atop of the NL West with a 3.5-game lead on the Giants at the end of the month. He even managed to put a damper on Bryce Harper’s debut by blasting a 10th-inning walk-off homer to give the Dodgers a 4-3 win over the NL East's first place Nationals.
If his offense wasn’t enough to secure him this month’s honor, his defense has to solidify the deal. Kemp sported a perfect 55-for-55 putout record in April, committing zero errors and notching a 2.39 range factor. Statistics aside, Kemp has made jaws across the country drop with his natural swag on the field – even garnering some random outbursts from the National League fans holed up in the MLB Fan Cave right now (I won’t name names). No fan wants their pitcher to face Kemp, which is another reason why he deserves to be recognized for his accomplishments this month. No doubt the month of May will be just as mesmerizing.
In the American League, there’s a certain player who isn’t lagging too far behind Matt Kemp, and you won’t be surprised that I’m talking about Josh Hamilton. The Rangers’ outfielder has clocked time in both center and left field, completing 51 of the possible 53 putouts while locking two assists and one double play. He even found himself in the number one spot on Player Poll a few weeks back, nominated by fans as the best defensive outfielder in all of Major League Baseball.
But his defense has been overshadowed by his plate appearances. The Rangers ended April with the best record in baseball, a solid 17-6, leaving them 6.5 games ahead of Oakland in the AL West. Of course, the Rangers were led by none other than Hamilton himself. Individually, he finished April batting .395 with a .438 OBP, 25 RBIs and nine homers, including seven walks and two stolen bases. His batting average has yet to dip below .340 so far this season, and with the Rangers heading into May with a pretty even split of home and road games, it doesn’t look like it will fall below .300 anytime soon. Texas won nine of their 14 games at home, losing just four on the road, setting Hamilton up to continue the pace he set for himself when he went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the Rangers’ season opener at the White Sox.
Who gets your vote? Tweet me @LindsayGuentzel.