May 03

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

Mar 14

How big a gap between the Dodgers and the NL West favorites?

Dodgers at Reds, 7:05 p.m.
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Adam Kennedy, 1B
Jerry Sands, RF
Trent Oeltjen, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Matt Wallach, DH
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
(Clayton Kershaw, P)

I don’t think I’ve ever posted about Vegas odds as they relate to pennant races, but this set of numbers, e-mailed to me from Bovada, jumped out.

Odds to win the 2012 NL West
5/4 San Francisco Giants
2/1 Arizona Diamondbacks
11/2 Los Angeles Dodgers
7/1 Colorado Rockies
15/1 San Diego Padres

I wouldn’t make the Dodgers the favorites in their division, but I don’t think their chances of winning are so much worse than Arizona’s, and I think San Francisco should be even closer. Why the Giants would leap into preseason pole position, I’m not entirely clear.

* * *

Peter Guber’s a pretty familiar name around my office. During my first few years at Variety, the Hollywood producer (and Golden State Warriors minority owner) co-hosted a TV series with longtime Variety editor Peter Bart, and he also appeared as a keynoter at our Sports Entertainment Summit last July.

Guber has joined the Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten ownership group bidding on the Dodgers, reports Bill Shaikin of the Times. According to Shaikin, the field has been narrowed down to this group and only three others: the ones led by Steven Cohen, Stan Kroenke and newly partnered Michael Heisley and Tony Ressler.

As hard as it is to believe, we’re nearing the zero hour.

* * *

Headlines that say it all, or at least a lot: “Gun battle interrupts Mexican League game, sends players diving for cover.” Frightening.