NL Home Run race heating up
The division races are heating up, the MVP voting appears to have a few clear-cut, though tightly grouped candidates, and Cy Young voting should be close.
There is another race that is as close as any in baseball as we enter the last month of the season: the chase for the National League home run title. As it stands right now, there are nine guys within three home runs of each other. Here is the current leader board.
1. Matt Kemp 31
1. Albert Pujols 31
1. Mike Stanton 31
4. Lance Berkman 30
4. Dan Uggla 30
6. Prince Fielder 29
6. Ryan Howard 29
8. Jay Bruce 28
8. Troy Tulowitzki 28
It's a quality list, and any one of these guys could go on a late-season tear to take the crown. At the top, you have Kemp, who is having the best year of his career and appears poised to win the NL MVP. Pujols, after a rough beginning to the season, is right back on track and it would surprise precisely no one if he ended up on top. Mike Stanton is the young gun that everyone is talking about right now, sheerly because of his immense, raw power. The guy hits home runs about as far as anyone in the game, and in just his second full season, is proving why everyone had him pegged as the next superstar in South Florida. Berkman has had quite a comeback year for St. Louis, and I must apologize (for the thousandth time) for questioning the Cards' decision to move Big Puma to the outfield full time. I thought for sure that he was going to wear down by about May. I was wrong. Uggla has been one of the premier home run hitters in the National League for some time now, so it's no surprise to see him on this list. Fielder and Howard just continue to do what they do best, and Fielder in particular is a guy who could put together a 10 or 12 home run month to run away from everyone else. I love the way that Jay Bruce has played this year. It makes the Reds look very smart for locking him into a long-term deal when they did. He and Votto will form one of the more dangerous 1-2 punches in baseball for the next decade. Tulo is a guy who, for me, has had a bit of a disappointing season. I expected him to win the NL MVP in 2011, and while his year has still been very solid, I thought we were going to see some fireworks from him this summer.
There is no wrong answer, and if I were a betting man I'm not sure I'd be willing to put money on it, but if you ask me to pick the guy who will win the home run race, I'll go with Stanton. He's tied for the lead at the moment, doesn't have the pressure of worrying about the postseason, and can absolutely mash. I'll give runner up status to Pujols and Fielder, who will both be right there at the end.
Who do you think is going to finish the season with the most home runs in the National League? Tweet me @rwags614 and let me know.