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Stanton injury could open Triple Crown race

With Giancarlo Stanton expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a wrist injury, the door is open for two players to make a run at the National League's first Triple Crown since 1937: Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt.

Stanton, a lifetime .270 hitter who has never batted .300, is unlikely to ever win the Triple Crown but may be the NL's premier HR and RBI guy over the next decade should he remain healthy. This could be the best chance at an NL Triple Crown for a while.

Goldschmidt and Harper both rank among the top five players in the National League in batting average, homers and RBIs. The D-backs' slugger ranks second in batting average, fifth in homers and third in RBI while the young Nationals power hitter is third in batting average, tied for third in homers and fourth in RBI entering play Monday.

Homers could be Goldschmidt's undoing as he trails Stanton by seven and must jump Todd Frazier, Harper and Nolan Arenado, all of whom have at least four more homers than him.

Harper, meanwhile, trails Arenado by 10 RBIs and must pass Goldschmidt in both RBI and batting average.

The NL has seen only five different players win the Triple Crown (Rogers Hornsby did it twice), and there have been four NL Triple Crown seasons in the live ball era (since 1920).

Joe Medwick of the Cardinals is the most recent player to accomplish the feat, back in 1937 when he hit .374 with 31 homers and 154 RBI.

Both players have a shot based on the average leaders in the Triple Crown categories the past five seasons. Average NL leaders have hit .332 with 39 HRs and 120 RBIs in this time. Goldschmidt and Harper are well on pace to distance those marks (assuming no missed games), so perhaps their biggest competition is each other.

Without missing any games, Harper is on pace for 54 home runs and 129 RBIs to go with that .339 batting average. Goldschmidt, meanwhile, is on pace for 43 homers and 132 RBIs to go with his .349 batting average.

Even if they fall short of the Triple Crown, such numbers could make for an interesting MVP debate at the end of the season if both players continue at this torrid pace.