Hitters in the National League are putting up some phenomenal numbers so far in this young 2011 season. The best players in baseball are looking to prove their consistency. Young players are looking to establish what they can do. Aging veterans are trying to show the world that they still have what it takes to make an impact in the major leagues. This is a list of those who have outperformed everyone else in the National League as of May 1st.
1) Ryan Braun – MIL
Coming off a huge contract extension that will keep him in Milwaukee for the next 10 years, Ryan Braun has proved his worth to the Brewers organization. Tied for the league lead in home runs with 10 so far, Braun has picked up right where he left off last season, hitting .356 with 23 RBIs this season. He is the centerpiece in an exceptionally powerful Brewers lineup.
2) Lance Berkman – STL
The last of the “Killer B’s” is enjoying his first season out of Houston. The 35-year-old is showing no signs of aging, batting a stellar .398 and showing off his power, with 8 home runs and 23 RBIs. Berkman is now in a more potent Cardinals lineup, and his numbers reflect that. He has been the highlight of a lineup that includes Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols.
While he is no longer hitting over .400, Matt Kemp is off to a tremendous start, currently hitting .373 with 6 home runs, and a stellar on-base percentage of .448. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Kemp and Andre Ethier are the only players in the lineup consistently hitting, which is why they are currently a .500 team.
4) Joey Votto – CIN
The 2010 MVP is proving that last season’s campaign was no fluke, batting .357 with 5 home runs. Votto’s on-base percentage is an incredible .492, and his OPS has been above 1 all season. Look for Votto to be an MVP candidate for the Cincinnati Reds once again, as he is showing no signs of slowing down.
5) Matt Holliday – STL
In limited playing time (he missed 7 games early in the season), Holliday has hit at an unbelievable pace. He has 33 hits in 79 at-bats, good for a .418 batting average. While it is hard to believe he will keep that average up, it will be interesting to watch Holliday’s progression over the next few weeks, especially as the hitters around him, namely Albert Pujols, begin to heat up.
6) Prince Fielder – MIL
If Fielder continues to play like he has, he will become one of the richest players in the league. The Brewers have him signed through 2011, but where he will be beyond that is anyone’s guess. If he keeps hitting .330 and showcasing his power, he will be one of the most sought-out free agents on the market. Look for his power numbers to jump as the season wears on.
7) Troy Tulowitzki – COL
The most productive shortstop in the league is Troy Tulowitzki, as he propels the red hot Colorado Rockies into first place in the NL West. After a slow start, Tulowitzki is now batting .296 with 7 homers, and his numbers are climbing, as he shows the Rockies that the 7-year, $134 million extension he received is money well spent. He maintains his status as an elite shortstop and a proven fantasy baseball player.
8) Andre Ethier – LAD
Ethier, along with Matt Kemp, has been the Dodgers offense so far. Hitting an impressive .378 leaves one to wonder what his numbers would look like with more offensive support around him, as he has only driven in 16 runs. Ethier is in the midst of a 26-game hitting streak, recording a hit in all but one game in the month of April.
9) Placido Polanco – PHI
Polanco is doing his best to keep an impressive, but aging Phillies offense one of the best in the league. Polanco has hit steadily in the high .300s, with a current average of .385. He has left the power numbers to his teammates, however; Polanco has hit only 2 home runs. Most of his production is coming at the relatively small Citizens Bank Park, including both of his homers.
10) Brandon Philips – CIN
Philips, coming off a drop in production in 2010, is trying to prove that last season was a fluke. Philips only put up 59 RBIs last season, compared to 96 the year before. So far in the 2011 season, Philips has put up numbers that could lead to more production. He is batting a stellar .351, yet his home run total is only 4, and he has only managed 14 RBIs. This may point to lack of production around him in the lineup.