Matt Kemp bends but breaks through

My latest piece for ESPNLosAngeles.com is a reflection on Matt Kemp’s journey from 18-year-old draftee to 27-year-old baseball superhero, noting that overcoming setbacks has been part of his profile from the beginning.

The story of Matt Kemp ‘s evolution from the Los Angeles Dodgers doghouse in 2010 to his place in baseball’s penthouse today has been so well-chronicled, you might be excused for thinking that this was his only bend in the otherwise steady road to the top.

But looking back from what is now Kemp’s 10th professional season and seventh in the majors to the beginning, we can see that his struggle in 2010 was the latest zigzag in a career full of them. …

Read the entire piece here. Also, check out ESPN.com’s Stats & Info blog for some remarkable stats on Kemp’s incredible work on outside pitches this year.

  • Anonymous

    Gordon is still on pace for over 50 SB, even with his slump.  I wouldn’t bench him for 90% of the shortstops in the league.  I know we all love AJ Ellis’ on base prowess, but M Ellis is doing a great job in the two spot, with almost a 400 OBP himself, with less strikeouts than AJ in more AB.  I still think we need someone in the #2 spot who can 1st-3rd on most singles by Matty, and M Ellis fills that role more than AJ.  And Matty is hitting like 600 in BABIP.  Sick stuff.  That’s Ted Williams good.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       Well over 50 steals. Try 100 (or 99.7, to be exact).

  • Anonymous

    Barry Larkin did a chat at ESPN today that lasted a whopping 15 minutes, but did include 2 questions about the Dodgers.

  • Anonymous

    From previous-the Captain of the Boys of Summer made 47 errors his first full season at short. Not to panic with Gordon.

    • Anonymous

      Everybody made a lot of errors in 1941. Marty Marion, considered the best fielding shortstop of the error made 38. Eddie Joost made 41. Bobby Bragan made 45. 

      Somehow, the shortstop for Boston (62-92), Eddie Miller, made only 29 errors while playing in 154 games. (The Braves had two ties.)

      Miller’s fielding must have been considered good because in 1943, facing greatly depleted rosters because of the War, Miller batted .224 for the Reds with just two home runs (although he managed 71 RBI) and finished 10th in MVP voting.

      • foul tip

        “the best fielding shortstop of the error made 38″

        Bob, is that a Freudian slip?  ;-])

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

          The error totals from the early and mid-20th century are at least partly attributable to laughably small, flat gloves.

      • Anonymous

        Back then, Official scorers actually charge players with errors on more than just overly routine plays.

      • Anonymous

        The Reds finished 2nd in ’43 with a nice 87-67 record. However, the great St. Louis teams of the ’40′s who finished either 1st or 2nd from ’41 to ’49, played over 600 ball each year from ’41 to ’46, won 4 pennants and 3 WS were in the middle of their best 3 year period. They won 105 games. 
        Miller’s 71 RBI’s actually led the Reds even though his OPS+ was 8th among their regulars. He mostly batted 7th. Among the Reds he finished 3rd in the MVP voting. He’s 5th in WAR, actually 9th in oWAR, but gets 2.0 of his 2.6 WAR from defense. I have to think his leading the team in RBI by 12 accounts for much of his 24 points in the MVP voting. The Reds’ leader in WAR, their 2nd baseman, with 4.7 got 1 MVP vote to finish tied for 32nd. 
        In conclusion, I’m guessing sports writers without so-called advanced statistics or access to nightly video over-valued RBI’s even more than they do today.

  • Anonymous

    And THAT’s why they call him “The Bison.”

    Nice piece, Jon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

    On Gordon…he certainly is the best option at SS by far. However…he MUST get on base more frequently, and until this improves he should NOT be batting leadoff. Probably the 7 hole would be best, not the 8 hole, because otherwise the pitcher would be leading off a lot of innings. And I disagree with the notion that there is no other leadoff alternative. The main job requirement is to get on base. If Hairston becomes the every day 3rd baseman, he would be a huge improvement over Gordon if he just equals last years numbers. Either Ellis would work as well (although Mattingly would die a thousand deaths before batting a catcher leadoff).

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

      Yes, I hadn’t considered Hairston – he would be an alternative.  But essentially, I was looking at a world where the best available option would be Mark Ellis. I guess there’s a case for this, but I’d just as soon have Gordon lead off.

  • http://twitter.com/Derek_TC Derek TC

    Even if Dee gets on  base less, is it possible that what he does when on base is superior enough that it makes up for the lower OBP, for example moving into scoring position, or being able to go 1st to 3rd more often, or tag up and score on a fly ball that one of the others could not? I don’t know the answer, just had this thought that maybe it makes up for it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

      I guess it’s possible, but not with an OBP in the mid .200′s. I mean, most MLB regulars routinely score from second on all singles to centerfield and right field. Most MLB regulars also go first to third on singles to right and center. And…not even Dee Gordon goes first to third on a line drive single to left. So…what is that delta of value that speed brings? I know there IS a delta, but I don’t know how big it is. I just believe it is in no way big enough to cover a .263 OBP from your leadoff man. Now…If Gordon could get that OBP up to say….330, then I believe the delta of value his speed brings would make him more valuable than a .350 or .360 guy.

  • foul tip

     Also, Bob, since you’re really good at finding things…can you find out if there’s any news on Kuo after Seattle released him in ST?  I can’t find anything later than that.

    Assuming, your’re not too mad after my wise rremark

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of bending, I just read that Jerry Hairston Jr has been on the DL 11 times in his career.  Only 4 active players have been more. Kerry Wood has been on the DL 15 times.

    • Anonymous

      Does today’s move by the Cubs make it 16?

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Angel Guzman, who pitched for Dodgers in spring training this year, gets 50-game minor-league suspension. http://bit.ly/IEVhcH

    • Anonymous

      Per ESPN:
      “The term “drug of abuse” usually refers to a narcotic, something different from a performance-enhancing substance such as steroids.”

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    The Cubs have lost six games in a row and have been outscored 43-14 during the streak. 

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    The Cubs have five homers, two less than Matt Kemp, but the same number the total of every Dodger who isn’t Kemp.

  • Anonymous

    I assume the Dodgers could put Alfredo Silverio on the 60-day DL if they needed a 40-man spot; or, is his recovery going well enough to make that a bad idea?

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT