Not only is Kemp co-leading in home runs, second in runs batted in and fourth in batting average, he’s also leading in wins above replacement by almost a full game. He’s also a member of the 30 homers/30 stolen bases club.
Here’s some precedent from Triple Crown threats who fell short of the crown yet still won the MVP award:
* Frank Thomas (1994): second in home runs, third in RBI and batting average.
* Jeff Bagwell (1994): second in batting average and home runs, first in RBI.
* Larry Walker (1997): second in batting average, first in home runs, third in RBI (also a member of the 30/30 club).
* Albert Pujols (2009): first in home runs, third in batting average and RBI.
Kemp is a long shot to win the batting title, needing to make up more than 10 points over the final month. But winning the home run and RBI title is well within reach, and should he win both while staying in the top five for batting average, he deserves to win the MVP.
Side note: Should Kemp win, he’d only be the sixth member of the 30/30 club to do so (Dale Murphy in 1983, Barry Bonds in 1990 and 1992, Larry Walker in 1997 and Jimmy Rollins in 2007).