Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has been unanimously voted the Budweiser Presents National League Player of the Month for April, while Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers was selected as the AL recipient.
Through 23 April contests, Kemp led the Majors with a .417 (35-for-84) batting average and 12 home runs while ranking tops in the National League in RBI (25), hits (35), runs (24) and slugging percentage (.893), and second in on-base percentage (.490). The Oklahoma natives 12 April homers set a new franchise record and were the fifth-most ever during the month behind Albert Pujols (14 in 2006); Alex Rodriguez (14 in 2007); Luis Gonzalez (13 in 2001); and Ken Griffey, Jr. (13 in 1997). Kemp joined Tony Perez (CIN, 1970), Larry Walker (COL, 1997) and Barry Bonds (SF, 2004) as one of only four players since 1921 to finish April with a .400 batting average, 10-or-more home runs and at least 20 RBI. His 75 total bases in April tied for the eighth-most all-time. The 27-year-olds sizzling bat played a key role in the Dodgers National League-best 16-7 record in April, the teams best start since 1983. On Saturday, April 28th, Kemp clubbed his fifth career walk-off homer in the 10th inning of the Dodgers 4-3 victory over Washington at Dodger Stadium. The sixth round selection in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft collected hits in 10 straight games from April 11th-21st, hitting .556 (20-for-36) in that span. The 2011 N.L. All-Star selection won consecutive Player of the Week Awards for the weeks ending April 8th and April 15th after hitting a combined .487 (19-for-39) with six homers and 16 RBI to begin the 2012 campaign. It marked the first time that a player had won back-to-back N.L. Player of the Week honors to begin a season and the first time that a player had won the award three straight times (Kemp was named N.L. Player of the Week during the final week of the 2011 season). This is Matts first career Monthly Award.
Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has been voted the Budweiser Presents American League Player of the Month for April. Hamilton batted .395 (34-for-86) with three doubles, nine home runs, 25 RBI and 20 runs scored in 22 games during April to win his fourth career monthly award (also April and May 2008, and June 2010) and the second straight for the Rangers after teammate Adrian Beltre took home honors last September to wrap up the 2011 season. Among A.L. leaders in April (minimum 84 plate appearances), the four-time All-Star finished first in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage (.744), second in batting average and runs scored, tied for second in hits and placed fourth in on base percentage (.438). Hamiltons nine homers matched a club record for April (also Ivan Rodriguez in 2000, Alex Rodriguez in 2002, Carl Everett in 2003 and Ian Kinsler in 2007). He also joined Pete Incaviglia (1987) as the only Rangers with nine home runs in the clubs first 20 games of a season. Hamilton and Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers became just the seventh and eighth players since 1921 to post minimums of nine home runs, 25 RBI, 20 runs scored and 34 hits in the month of April. The last American Leaguer to accomplish the feat was Jermaine Dye of the Kansas City Royals in 2000.
The 30-year-old hit safely in 13 of his first 14 games, in 19 of 22 games overall in April, and enjoyed a season-long seven-game hitting streak from April 13th-21st, batting .484 (15-for-31) with two doubles, four homers, 12 RBI and nine runs scored. During the string, the first overall pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft (by Tampa Bay) homered in three straight contests from April 14th-17th and had a trio of three hit games. On April 14th against the Twins at Target Field, the Raleigh, North Carolina native recorded the first of four straight multi-hit games with two doubles, a solo homer and three runs scored as Texas topped Minnesota, 6-2. On April 17th, the lefty slugger went 3-for-5 with a homer and a career-high-tying five RBI as the Rangers defeated the Boston Red Sox, 18-3, at Fenway Park. It was the third time in his career that the 2010 A.L. Most Valuable Player notched five RBI in a game, and his first since May 27, 2008.
Others receiving votes included Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (.405, 9 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 17 R); Toronto Blue Jays infielder and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (.322, 8 2B, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 15 R); Twins outfielder Josh Willingham (.347, 7 2B, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 13 R); and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (.389, 6 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 16 R).