Caminiti was heart and soul of '96 Padres

Updated: October 14, 2004, 9:06 AM ET
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
It seems strange, a world without Ken Caminiti.

So soon, I mean. In all likelihood, the National League's Most Valuable Player in 2004 will be Barry Bonds. And just eight years ago, Caminiti – barely a year older than Bonds – was as good as anybody. As good as Barry Bonds, even.

In 1996, Caminiti was the MVP in the National League, and the vote was unanimous: 28 voters, 28 first-place votes for San Diego's third baseman. The balloting certainly wasn't a big surprise. After all, Caminiti led all non-Rockies National Leaguers with 130 RBI, and he also played Gold Glove defense for a team that came out of nowhere to win its first division title in a dozen years.