Matt Kemp's Triple Crown chances will come down to the Los Angeles Dodgers' final two games, providing baseball with a unique chance at statistical domination that has not been seen in 44 years.
Kemp, the Dodgers outfielder, stands alone at the top Tuesday in the National League home run and RBI categories. His 38 homers lead St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols by one. And with 123 RBI, Kemp has a comfortable, eight-RBI lead on the Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.
Braun, though, makes winning the final category rather unrealistic. Braun's .334 average leads Kemp by 10 percentage points. Even tougher is another player, the New York Mets' shortstop Jose Reyes, also sitting at .334.
Kemp has gone just 4-for-17 in his last four games - albeit with two home runs - hurting his chances at the rarest of baseball honors. No player has won the Triple Crown since the Boston Red Sox's Carl Yastrzemski did so in 1967. In the NL, it's even rarer: Joe Medwick of the Cardinals was the last winner in 1937.
Kemp's mini-slump at the plate in those four games has dropped him from close contention - something that's just as rare as winning the Triple Crown. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, through ESPN, not once since 1967 in the final 15 games of the season has any player been:
1) Leading his league in batting average or within five points of the lead.
2) Leading the league in home runs or within one.
3) Leading the league in RBI or within one.
Kemp met all three categories on Sept. 23, but his fade dropped him.
So what are Kemp's chances at the rare feat? The Dodgers face the Arizona Diamondbacks to close out the regular season, and on Tuesday Kemp will bat against Arizona starter Jarrod Parker, who is making his Major League debut. On Wednesday, Joe Saunders will take the mound for the Diamondbacks. Kemp is batting .214 in just 14 at-bats against Saunders in his career.
And when asked about his chances by reporters, Kemp gave the understatement of the last 44 years of baseball.
It would be unbelievable if I could do this, Kemp said.
On another race to another statistical rarity, Kemp needs two homers over the Dodgers' final two games to become just the fifth player to join the 40/40 club - 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season.