1. Can Josh Hamilton Keep Up His Triple Crown Pace?
In a case of falling off the wagon and landing on your feet, Josh Hamilton had a well publicized break with sobriety this past offseason, only to start the year on a blistering hitting pace. He's currently holding a healthy lead in two of the three American League Triple Crown categories (his 21 homers are four better than the next player; his 57 RBI are 15 better than second-best), and his .368 batting average is good for second place (just .13 points behind first place Paul Konerko). No player has won a batting Triple Crown (leading his league in home runs, RBI, and batting average) since Carl Yazstremski did it for the Red Sox in 1967.
The Complex Crystal Ball Says... I'll Have Another has a better chance of winning the horse racing Triple Crown when he runs in the Belmont Stakes next weekend, but Hamilton—if he can stay healthy—should make things interesting well into summer as well. Earlier this month he hit nine homers in six games, including four in one matchup with the Orioles. You could argue that that streak is a fluke and indicates his pace is unsustainable—or you could argue it's a sign of his talent and an indication that the home run title is his for the taking. The Rangers lineup is strong around him, so he should have plenty of RBI chances into September. If he can sustain the batting average and his competitors come back to earth, come the fall we may be talking about one of the greatest steroid- (and hopefully Crown Royal-) free batting seasons of the past half century.