Matt Kemp and .400: One in a million

After ESPNLosAngeles asked me to write a piece exploring whether Matt Kemp could hit .400 this year, I was tempted to turn in a one-word column, but I ultimately went with this:

When a ballplayer takes a .400 batting average into May, you’re supposed to know not to ask whether he can take it through the end of the season.

You know that no major leaguer has hit .400 over a season since Ted Williams in 1941. You know it’s a barrier that has withstood Stan Musial, Rod Carew, George Brett, Andres Galarraga, Tony Gwynn, Larry Walker, Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Helton, Barry Bonds and Ichiro Suzuki — all of whom have hit at least .375 since ’41, but never .400.

What does Matt Kemp, now batting .411 on May 2, have that these guys didn’t have? Probably nothing, or a figure approaching nothing.

Last weekend, David Pinto of Baseball Musings ran some numbers. Kemp had just gone 2-for-4 in Friday’s Los Angeles Dodgers victory over Washington, raising his batting average to .452. Pinto found that Kemp’s probability of hitting .400 this year was 0.0000016.

If he played a million baseball seasons, the odds say Kemp wouldn’t hit .400 in two of them. And that was before his batting average fell 43 points in less than a week.

So what are we doing here?

Here are two reasons to keep having the conversation …

Read the entire piece here.

* * *

  • Stan Kasten, the most impressive figure at Wednesday’s Dodger press conference, is profiled by Kevin Baxter of the Times, while colleague Peter Guber is interviewed by the Times’ Roger Vincent.
  • Mark Walter is profiled by Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Despite the fact that the number of cars parking in Dodger Stadium has no bearing on how much money Frank McCourt will receive going forward, the Times decided to perpetuate the mistaken assumption of others by running an op-ed from David Kipen calling for a boycott of the parking lots — or, if I’m reading correctly, a half-boycott.
  • Dodger batting practice pitcher Pete Bonfils was interviewed by Ron Cervenka for Think Blue L.A.
  • The Dodgers are reportedly close to taking a minimum-salary flyer on Angels castoff Bobby Abreu. Given that Abreu would probably replace one of four third basemen on the roster — Juan Uribe if he goes on the disabled list, Adam Kennedy otherwise — I’ve heard worse ideas.
  • A pairing to treasure, courtesy of Jon SooHoo:

© Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    That op-ed piece was such a poor decision. What is the Times thinking? Dated and pointless. Oh well. 

    When do Vin and Magic play one-on-one? As the undercard to Magic vs Kemp.

    • Anonymous

      The ***bankrupt*** LAT apparently has to fuel any controversy it can for as long as it can in an effort to stay afloat. IMO, Plaschke’s behavior at yesterday’s presser was an outright disgrace. Sad to see the once-and-former “world champion” sink to this level. But here we are.

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

         I think this comment is over the top.  There’s no reason Plaschke can’t ask what he asked.  I just like the way Magic dealt with it.

        As for the Times, they’ve led the way (via Bill Shaikin) in explaining why McCourt isn’t getting money dependent on parking lot revenue.  That’s what made their running of the op-ed so perplexing.

        • http://www.twitter.com/ElJefedor Jeffrey Thomas III

          Yeah I’m not sure what else Magic and Stan could have said to quell these fears. I felt it was pretty clear after yesterday’s conference that Frank won’t be getting a cent from parking. And we’re getting $5 off! Woohoo!

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

        I wasn’t saying you needed to delete the comment – just was disagreeing with it somewhat.

        • Anonymous

          No worries, Jon. I’m comfortable relying on your editorial judgment for your site.

          We can continue to agree to disagree about what I wrote, fair enough?

          • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

            I for one will not disagree! But that’s partially because I never saw the comment. ;)

  • Anonymous

    That picture says more than a thousand words. We truly are blessed.

  • Anonymous

    Would you trade Loney, Uribe, and Guerra for Vern Wells and Kendry Morales?

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

       Do we have to pay all of Wells’ salary?

      • Anonymous

        Didn’t realize he has 2 more after this year. Looking at his lifetime stats at BR what was Toronto thinking??

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

          The Angels could use Guerra…but why would they take on Uribe and Loney? there’s no place for them to play. Loney would go to Salt Lake and Uribe would be released.

    • Anonymous

      In about 2 seconds

  • http://twitter.com/cargill06 casey stewart

    ^ sign me up

  • Adam Luther

    ^When was the last trade between the Angels/Dodgers?  Can’t see Artie doing that.

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    Btw, the Giants just made their 27th and 28th errors of season, next to last in mlb. Dodgers have committed 13 so far.  Hitting and bench worries aside, this is one area I felt confident about the Dodgers in 2012 and so far, so good at least.

  • Anonymous

    I, for one, would rather see Bobby A in the Blue than Mr. Kennedy (well, I’d actually rather see Mr. Kennedy than Mr. Uribe, but I know that’s an emotional decision rather than a baseball decision). In fact, I wish Ned had signed Bobby rather than Manny lo tho many years ago.

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      Props for at least admitting that keeping Kennedy over Uribe would not be a good baseball decision :)  Not that any of these choices are really very inspiring mind you… But Uribe at least has good streaks along with his bad, and is a bit better than AK defensively, too. But yeah, none of these are really very exciting options. 

      • Anonymous

        Right. All of this came to the fore the other night when a pinch hitter was called for and there was literally no one you could trust on the bench — Kennedy, Sellers and an injured Uribe, I think, were the options. Sheesh, might as well send Billz up there at that point.

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

    Mattingly on Mark Ellis. Kind of an odd/funny comment.
    “”He’s been great, better than I honestly thought he was. I didn’t do enough research. …”
    http://atmlb.com/IpYyf4

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

    Here’s what Mattingly said about A.J. Ellis, who has a .306 average and .449 on-base percentage, third in the league:

    “He’s been really good, even better than I thought. The biggest area —
    I’m not talking about his hits — is the leadership, and you can just
    see it. You can tell he’s slowed the game down. He’s taking charge. We
    had a first-and-third and I got busy with something and he was waiting
    for a sign and he just put the play on himself. I looked up and he was
    already all over it. He’s been everything we want. He studies, he knows
    what he’s calling. Everybody is trying to find offense, but A.J. has
    been that guy you want back there. He has such a good feeling, you know
    he’s studied and he knows where he’s going to go.”
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/Vashkan Anthony Forkush

    As soon as Bobby Abreu was cast off, I believed that the Dodgers taking a flyer on him was a no-brainer. If nothing else, it provides a solid veteran presence in the clubhouse, a Giambiesque left handed “run into one” from the left side, a minimal economic investment, whose acumen can only help Ethier and Loney, whose struggles against lefties are well documented. I called Kevin Kennedy after Giambi went yard yesterday, perhaps a gift from the Gods if the organization may have been waffling about acquiring him, and expressed my feeling that it was the first “next” move as all other Dodgers are hitting .208 with RISP, or thereabouts. Ironically, the “old” administration would not have made this potential move (not yet done), with some media already quashing the idea right away, as proxy I think. Nice one, Stan.

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

    NPUT

  • Anonymous

    If only that photo showed Magic and Vin eating Philippe’s French dip sandwiches on the beach, it would contain all that is wonderful about Los Angeles. 

  • Anonymous

    Ron Cervenka sounds like a baseball name….someone who would have played 3B for Texas circa 1976.

    • Anonymous

      Only in my dreams, Artie. I played a little Legion ball around that time but not in Texas. My niece Meredith was an all-star softball player at Long Beach State and was recently inducted into their sports Hall of Fame along with Jered Weaver.