Lance Berkman Is Number One: Top Five NL Players Of 2008

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer IMay 22, 2008

It would take a lot of data mining to find the last time the NL thoroughly dominated baseball in batting average. In fact, the top six BAs are owned by players from the National League.

Joe Mauer, catcher for the Minnesota Twins, leads the AL with an average of .336, whereas Chipper Jones leads the NL at .410. There have been tremendous individual performances so far from the NL, so here are your top five players as of now.

Just to make one thing clear, so I don't get questions asking where Brandon Webb is, I'm just doing position players this time around. 

1) Lance Berkman

I don't think there is much room to dispute this one.  Berkman is second in the MLB in BA, and first in HR and RBI. It's pretty clear to me that Berkman has been the best player in the National League through mid-May. 

Not to mention his tear from May 3rd to May 12th, in which he hit 24-for-35 (.686 BA). This guy deserves a start at 1B in the All-Star Game, but it will be almost impossible to get it with Albert Pujols sharing his position.

2) Chase Utley

Utley started off the season with a real loud bang, and although the dust has settled, his numbers still look awfully nice. He is hitting .314 with 14 HR and 32 RBI, monstrous numbers from a second baseman.  

Like Berkman, it's pretty difficult to argue Utley's spot as the second-best player in the NL so far. Although his Phillies are in third place in the NL East, they remain only 1.5 games out of first, and Utley is a huge reason for their 26-22 success.

3) Chipper Jones

Only one another time in this decade has someone been hitting over .400 this far into the season (Manny Ramirez, 2001).  Jones has hit the cover off of the ball all season to the tune of 12 HR and 34 RBIs.  Most importantly for Jones, however, is his .410 BA. 

It's hard to believe that I would put Jones third-best, seeing as his numbers are slightly better overall than that of Utley; but his defense isn't in the same league as Chase. Kudos to Jones though, because it sure is nice to see him back on track after a few sluggish seasons in what has been an outstanding career.

4) Albert Pujols

The best player in baseball is hitting .351 and is fourth-best in the NL so far?  It just goes to show you how great the individual seasons have been. Pujols has hit 11 jacks, and has driven-in 31 RBIs. Almost any other year, Pujols would be a lock for an All-Star start at first, but Berkman is pushing him to the limit this year.

5) Ryan Ludwick

Who!? Ludwick is smashing the ball left and right, creating a formidable duo with Pujols in the middle of the Cardinals lineup.

Everyone knows how great of a season Albert has had, but Ludwick leads the Cards in HR and RBIs, with 12 and 35, respectively. Not only that, but a .336 BA would land him a share of the AL batting title if the season ended today. 

With 4 HR, 7 Rs, and 10 RBIs in the past week, no other player besides perhaps Alfonso Soriano has been swinging a hotter bat in the NL. Ludwick is hoping to get recognized enough to earn a spot as a reserve in the All-Star game. From being a minor league stud to major league journeyman, Ludwick has finally landed on his feet in St. Louis and is producing at the highest level in his career.

Disclaimer: Two Cardinals players in the top five by no means should make you think that I believe that the Redbirds are the best team in the NL.