Update (4/12/13): Greinke is out for approximately eight weeks. Quentin has been suspended for eight games, Hairston, Jr. for one game. Both of those players have appealed.
This blog has already morphed and transformed 100 different times tonight as more and more details are released about the ridiculous brawl at Petco Park. We have embedded videos from sources like MLB and ESPN to give you a clear timeline of what went down. Enjoy the madness, and vote in the polls below!
Bottom of the 6th inning:
Carlos Quentin, leading off the 6th for the Padres (who were down 2-1 at the time), took the count to 3-2 against Zack Greinke. That next pitch got away inside and nailed Quentin on the elbow, at which point he charged the mound. You can see the fight in its entirety here:
As many Tweeters reminded us, Quentin routinely leads the league in hit by pitches:
Carlos Quentin has been hit by 97 pitches since beginning of 2008, most in MLB
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) April 12, 2013
These things happen when a batter crowds the plate and takes away the pitcher’s inside corner. And it doesn’t help that Quentin clearly has no idea how to get out of the way of an inside pitch (from the first game of the series on Tuesday):
As you see in the video of the brawl, Quentin and Greinke collided shoulder-to-shoulder, and the 50-pound advantage of the batter definitely took its toll on the smaller pitcher. The benches cleared as Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis tackled Quentin to the ground. Many people thought Greinke may have yelled something to Quentin after the beaning, which this ESPN video shows is true (embedding ESPN videos does not work on WordPress):
My expert lip-reading abilities tell me that Greinke said something along the lines of “F— off.” Hardly grounds for a rage-induced attack on Quentin’s part. For all I know, Greinke may just have been tired of Quentin’s act, as a fellow NL West pitcher became last season:
— Tom Krasovic (@UTkrasovic) April 12, 2013
Vogelsong on Quentin last yr: “The guy hammers balls over the plate and then gets pissed when you throw them inside.” csnbayarea.com/blog/andrew-ba…
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 12, 2013
Before we go any farther, let me bring you back a few years…
April 8th, 2009:
Different teams, a different division, in a different league; same matchup. In Greinke’s 2009 Cy Young year with the Kansas City Royals, he beaned then-White Sox Quentin in the 4th inning of an early-season game. Quentin took a step toward Greinke before being cooled off and taking first base.
After that outing (the Royals won 2-0), Greinke said it was an accident, and even mentioned that he was “scared” for Quentin at first, thinking it might hit his head:
“He had a reason for [being upset],” said Greinke of Quentin. “Any time you throw it that high, it’s justified. You’ve got to be better than that and not pitch like that. You’re going to make mistakes, but the last thing you want to do is hit someone where it could seriously hurt them. As soon as I let go of it, I was scared for him.”
So there was history. Whether or not it was intentional then, or intentional this year, is a matter we can likely never pinpoint. But in both instances, Greinke held a slim lead–hardly a situation in which you want to put anyone on base purposely.
Unless Quentin slapped Greinke’s mother years ago for some unknown reason, there is no motive for Greinke to throw at Quentin in the first place. Not to mention, that little dust-up was four years ago now. That’s a long, long time for someone to hold a grudge in sports.
Okay, memory lane was fun. Let’s bring it back to present day…
Halfway through the brawl:
In the video of the fight, you can see Matt Kemp going absolutely bonkers in the scrum (kerfuffle, if you will). At one point, he had multiple teammates restraining him after getting in a face-to-face shouting match with Padres manager Bud Black.
After it looked like the dust had settled, Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston, Jr. took off toward the Padres dugout with his finger pointed at someone. If Don Mattingly’s postgame comments are any indication, the Padre in question was backup catcher John Baker, who was raised in my hometown of Walnut Creek, CA and does not seem the type to be involved.
But as Hairston, Jr. tweeted later, he was going at the Padres because he saw a player making fun of Greinke:
Losing Zack stings, but we ll pick each other up. Zacks like my little brother. Saw someone making fun of him being injured.Not cool!!
— Jerry Hairston, Jr.(@Therealjhair) April 12, 2013
Finally, the skirmish ended and Greinke was walked off the field by head trainer Sue Falsone. The umpires eventually ejected the pitcher, along with Quentin, Kemp, and Hairston, Jr. Shortly thereafter, Chris Capuano relieved Greinke on the bump for Los Angeles, and promptly allowed a game-tying single.
Though the unlikeliest of heroes, Juan Uribe, went deep later to help seal a 3-2 victory for the Dodgers, nothing could take the sting out of the news that broke after the game.
Postgame press conferences:
As soon as the game ended, fans demanded answers. Mattingly was happy to give them his, with multiple microphones stuck in his face. But first, the Dodgers got awful news regarding their $147 million pitcher:
BREAKING: Zack Greinke suffered a fractured left collarbone.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 12, 2013
According to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who is by no means a medical expert but does his research very thoroughly, the Dodgers can expect to miss Greinke for at least six weeks:
Broken collarbone is usually a 6-to-8-week recovery. So looks like a June-or-so return for Zack Greinke.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 12, 2013
So needless to say, Mattingly was upset with the result of everything except the win. When pressed about the incident, Mattingly referred to Quentin as an “idiot” who has “zero understanding of the game of baseball,” given the situation in which he charged the mound.
Most shockingly, the skipper also declared that Quentin deserved to be suspended for as long as Greinke was on the shelf. Many writers on Twitter agreed with this sentiment, and yours truly can’t argue the idea. Of course, Quentin won’t get a lengthy suspension. Chances are, he’ll be looking at a four or five game suspension at the most. But we will have to wait and see what kind of action the league decides to take, and also to see if they discipline Kemp for his actions.
As if Quentin needed anyone else against him, A.J. Ellis told Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that a few Padres apologized to him on their teammate’s behalf:
A.J. Ellis said #Padres players apologized for Quentin’s actions. “It’s not right, it’s not right,” he said one player told him.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 12, 2013
We also have the video of Quentin’s postgame chat with reporters here, which is full of blame deflections and question avoidance. Black, Quentin’s manager, said the history between the two players did play a part in the brawl. Greinke responded with some comments of his own, insisting he didn’t mean to hit Quentin and never has in the past. Plus, additional notes from Mattingly on the injury at the beginning of the video:
After cooling off, you’d think the situation would be put to rest. Alas, this night got crazier…
In the clubhouse tunnel:
Kemp couldn’t let the issue go, and stayed extremely fired up at Quentin for injuring Greinke. He went after Quentin by the player’s exit, reportedly asking why he charged the mound and ended up injuring Kemp’s teammate:
Kemp and Quentin face to face in the hallway.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 12, 2013
Players just ran out of Dodgers clubhouse…appears Matt Kemp and Carlos Quentin went after it in players parking lot
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) April 12, 2013
As Quentin walked into the parking lot, Kemp told him, “We’ll see, bitch.”
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 12, 2013
The Associated Press was able to snag a picture of the two players arguing (see below) before they were separated. The scene could have gotten much uglier, but it was luckily diffused in time. On one hand, you have to admire Kemp’s willingness to defend his pitcher and not back down from what he considered a threat. Leadership like that can pull a team closer together.
But on the other hand, the last person the Dodgers need getting suspended or playing upset is Kemp. The star center fielder is already struggling with the bat so far in 2013, and needs to recognize the difference between playing hard and playing pissed.
At the end of the night, Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (who was injured in the World Baseball Classic and has been on the DL all season) tweeted a slight silver lining, apparently in an attempt to calm the angry hordes:
Cast coming off today!!!! Thanks god!!!!!
— Hanley Ramirez (@HanleyRamirez) April 12, 2013
So the Dodgers won the game, the series, and a bit of hope from Ramirez. But losing Greinke is a huge blow for the Dodgers pitching staff, who will likely replace him with either Ted Lilly or Chris Capuano–both massive downgrades. San Diego and Los Angeles reconvene at Dodger Stadium for a three-game set on Monday, prompting the Dodgers official Twitter account to put out this gem after the game:
See you on Monday in Los Angeles: twitter.com/Dodgers/status…
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 12, 2013
At the very least, that series will be under an intense microscope by fans, players and journalists everywhere. For the Padres, a chance to be relevant. For the Dodgers, a chance to prove that they are more than a rich all-star team–that they can win with talent and heart and team chemistry.
Stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down for more coverage as the news continues to roll in. Please vote in the polls below, and feel free to share your comments with us, too.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
The 2013 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced this week (Wednesday, 2 p.m. EST, MLB Network), and it’s one of the most star-studded, controversial groups the sport has ever seen. Members of the 3,000 hit club (Craig Biggio, for example), fan favorites (Kenny Lofton comes to mind), and admitted PED users (a large portion, but namely Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire) grace the list.
There are a million different ways to go with this class, and a lot of it hinges on one’s personal belief about steroid users and whether or not they are deserving of baseball’s highest honor.
Some believe that nobody will be elected this year. Others believe it will be one of the biggest classes of all-time. Here at Three Up, Three Down, we don’t get a real vote. So instead, we polled ourselves to see who we would elect if we had the chance. Per BBWAA rules, a player must receive at least 75 percent of the vote to be enshrined, and each voter can turn in a ballot with anywhere from 0-10 players listed.
We’ve enlisted the help of three friends of the podcast, including two members of the 2012 MLB Fan Cave top 30: Kelsey Shea, Megan Washington, and Matt Mapes to get us to eight votes, meaning six are needed to get into 3U3D Cooperstown.
Will Dale Murphy get elected on his 15th and final time as a candidate? Will Barry Bonds bypass the issues surrounding his career and score a spot? Is Curt Schilling worthy at all? Read on to find out!
Without further adieu, here is the official 3U3D Hall of Fame class of 2013:
IN (75% or more of votes):
1. Jeff Bagwell (87.5%) – KP: Even today when you mention the Houston Astros, the first two guys that pop into mind are Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. They shaped that franchise during their time there and have been role models for the hard nosed, tough, and gritty player. All of this, and I haven’t even mentioned their stats that include a 3,000 hit club member and a Rookie of the Year/MVP combo.
2. Craig Biggio (87.5%) – Megan: Craig Biggio is one of only 28 men who have reached 3,000 hits. Biggio’s bat also placed him fifth all-time in doubles; the only player in the top four not already in the Hall of Fame from that list is Pete Rose. The crazy thing about Biggio is that some players don’t get recognized as an All-Star at one position, let alone as a catcher AND second baseman.
3. Dale Murphy (87.5%) – Mapes: Dale Murphy, or “Murph,” is the most interesting, non-steroid case on the ballot. His numbers stack up as one of, if not the best player of the 1980’s. He won back-to-back MVP’s. He had a 30-30 season when they were rarer. He won five straight Gold Gloves. He once played in 740 straight games. Unfortunately, the prime of his career was so short and his counting statistics don’t add up. However, where Murphy made his mark in baseball history is off-the-field. He was the only player in the 1980’s to win both the Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente Award’s for his charity work. In a baseball era now where we are keeping great players OUT of Cooperstown for doing the wrong things, shouldn’t we reward a great player who did all the right things and more?
4. Mike Piazza (75.0%) – Jeremy: As a lifelong Dodgers fan, I’ve always had a soft spot for Mike Piazza, even if he did say he would go into the Hall with a Mets hat on. Piazza couldn’t actually catch worth a damn, but the 1993 Rookie of the Year and 12-time All-Star is still headed for Cooperstown. His .308 average, 427 homers, 1,335 RBI and .922 OPS in 16 seasons doesn’t make Piazza “arguably” the greatest offensive catcher of all time; it cements it.
JUST MISSED (50-75% of votes):
1. Don Mattingly (50.0%) – Kelsey: This isn’t a ploy to make Jeremy like me – I really believe Don Mattingly has been unfairly ignored as a Hall of Fame candidate. He only averaged about 20 home runs per season, but in his 1985 MVP season, he hit .324 with 35 homers and a ridiculous 145 RBI, and Mattingly held a .307 career average. And as usual, his nine Gold Gloves are overlooked, despite the massive importance defense SHOULD play in a Hall of Fame vote. And really, if your number is retired by the Yankees of all teams, you should earn an automatic pass to the Hall!
2. Fred McGriff (50.0%) – KP: “The Crime Dog” never really got much publicity, but was so consistent over his career. I don’t think that finishing at 493 home runs, instead of 500 should stop Fred McGriff from getting votes. That’s like saying Al Simmons and his 2,927 hits shouldn’t be considered because he didn’t crack 3,000. C’mon man! How can you hate on a guy who still has TV cameos with the Tom Emanski commercial running for baseball skills? All I’m saying is I hope he doesn’t have to wait for more “Back-to-Back-to-Back AAU National Championships” to get into the Hall of Fame (+1 for all those who get the reference).
MAYBE NEXT YEAR (25-37.5% of votes):
1. Barry Bonds (37.5%) – Brian: What else can I say? The man hit the most home runs in Major League history, and is the only member of the 400/400 AND 500/500 clubs. Even before he likely started using PED’s, Barry Bonds was the best player in baseball for nearly a decade. He and his seven MVP’s deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame.
2. Roger Clemens (37.5%) – Angelo: Brian’s case for Bonds is very similar to my case for Roger Clemens. Despite the controversy surrounding him, “The Rocket” was one of the best pitchers of all time. Seven Cy Youngs, 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and an MVP award blow your argument out of the water, just like Clemens blew away hitters over 24 unbelievable seasons.
3. Edgar Martinez (37.5%) – Matt: Let me start by saying the DH jibber-jabber is a bunch of malarkey. If players like Don Mattingly are going to be held out of the Hall despite terrific defense, then you better stick to your guns and welcome the best offensive players, even if they have defensive deficiencies. Edgar Martinez, a fan favorite (and not just in Seattle), MADE the DH position. He is the best who ever lived to play DH, and has a career .312 average. Put the man in Cooperstown!
4. Larry Walker (37.5%) – Matt: Very simply, I loved Larry Walker. He was one of the most consistent players of the 90’s and early 2000’s, and never got the respect he deserved (sort of like current Rockie Todd Helton). Walker hit .363 and .379 in 1998 and 1999, respectively, wining two of his three career N.L. batting titles. Explain to me how all the voters have missed the 1997 MVP’s .313 career average, nearly 400 homers and nearly 230 stolen bases, in his first two years of eligibility? His .400 career on-base percentage was 37 points higher than Biggio’s even! Did I mention the seven Gold Gloves?
5. Lee Smith (25%) – Jeremy: What else does Lee Smith have to do? A career 3.03 ERA, 478 saves (most all-time until Trevor Hoffman came along), and 8.7 K/9 for his career. I know closers aren’t held as highly in the voter’s eye, but Smith not being in the Hall yet is a travesty.
6. Curt Schilling (25%) – Megan: Curt Schilling was a tough call for me because I feel like I’m still on the fence and not just because he was a former Red Sox player, but because his career wasn’t a picture of consistency. You can’t base a vote on postseason work alone–though his postseason stats are crazy. He’s a six time All-Star, led his league two different years in wins, strikeouts and WHIP… and he has a few special rings.
AT LEAST YOU GET 15 TRIES (12.5% of votes):
1. Mark McGwire (12.5%) – Brian: Similar to Bonds, “Big Mac,” is a legend for a lot of good reasons and a lot of bad reasons. Mark McGwire took steroids and helped propel a then-single-season record of 70 homers out of the park in 1998. In the process, he helped save a sport that seemed to be dying at the time. His contribution to the game and his raw talent (583 career homers) gets my vote – remember, steroids don’t make a swing good, they just make the ball go farther.
2. Jack Morris (12.5%) – Kelsey: I didn’t vote for Jack Morris, but it was tough to leave him off. If this year’s class wasn’t so loaded, he would probably be on my ballot. With “only” 254 career wins and a decent 3.90 career ERA, voters might be scared off. Sure, Morris never won a Cy Young, but he was one of the most dominant pitchers of the 80’s, racking up at least 14 wins in nine separate seasons that decade, 13 times in his career overall.
3. Tim Raines (12.5%) – Mapes: This site can better explain Tim Raines candidacy than I ever could. Raines was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, but is a Hall of Famer in his own right. When you steal 808 bases in a career, you deserve serious consideration.
4. Alan Trammell (12.5%) – Angelo: A Detroit Tiger for life, Alan Trammell is someone I will strongly back for the Hall of Fame as long as humanly possible. His career stats (.285, 185 homers, 1,003 RBI, 236 steals) aren’t overwhelming, but he had nearly 2,400 career hits and four Gold Glove awards. Baseball-Reference.com’s player-rater (determined by fans) has him ranked the 53rd best hitter of all time. That’s plenty of evidence for me.
5. David Wells (12.5%) – Brian: Why does a guy like David Wells, who has 239 career wins, decent ERA and WHIP, nowhere near 3,000 strikeouts, off-the-field issues, and only two All-Star appearances crack my ballot? Well, he threw a perfect game, has two rings, and, well…is an awesome dude. Wells never finished above third in the Cy Young vote, but his consistent success with nine teams over 21 years gives me reason to vote in his favor.
NOT EVEN CLOSE (0% of votes – wouldn’t be on the 2014 ballot):
1. Julio Franco
2. Kenny Lofton
3. Bernie Williams
4. Rafael Palmeiro
5. Sammy Sosa
Here are the full ballots of each person, for your viewing pleasure (click to enlarge):
Tweet us about our picks! We are more than happy to discuss, debate, and analyze with you. If you like what you see, you can also follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE us on Facebook at Three Up, Three Down!
Moving along in our 3U3D Awards to Manager of the Year. Will these be the awards that we agree on the most? Let’s take a look.
Jeremy Dorn (@JamblinMan): Ventura has done a fantastic job in his first year on the Southside, but he was given a pretty decent offensive team, and you can mostly thank his pitching coaches for getting Jake Peavy back to his normal self. It’s a tight, two-horse race here between Bob Melvin and Buck Showalter, but I have to give the edge to Melvin. Yes, it was only a two-game difference in record, but he got his team all the way back from a huge deficit to actually win their division and absolutely shock the Texas Rangers. What a story.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Bob Melvin wins this award for leading his team to an AL West win. Rookies paved the way for Melvin’s A’s, recording an AL record number of wins. Buck Showalter would have taken this award home for me if it wasn’t for the A’s winning their division on the last day of the season. Buck had used 25 different starters and didn’t have a single player bat over .300.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): How can the guy who had the second lowest total payroll in baseball and won his division not win this award. The A’s finished first in AL West with a record of 93-69 beating the Texas Rangers on the last day of the season to take the division. Buck Showalter has dramatically increased his teams wins in his second year and this year’s Baltimore Orioles were no different finishing this season with a record of 93-69 after 2011’s 69-93 record. Robin Ventura had a very good rookie season as a manager although he was unable to win the division the Chicago White Sox led for a majority of the season. His team wilted down the stretch losing him his Manager of the Year award.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): You can’t throw away what Buck Showalter did for the Orioles. Making their first playoff appearance since 1997 and shocking the tyrants of the AL East. I loved watching it all season and seeing Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and JJ Hardy keep the birds in the air. Moneyball Part 2 can also not be overlooked. Bob Melvin and Billy Beane worked their magic again as it seems this haphazard group of misfits in Oakland got it done. Their team OBP is not great, they don’t lead in many categories, they strike out a lot, but boy do they bring the energy and win when it counts.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): Melvin and Showalter are on their own level for this award and I think that the actual vote will be closer than ours was. Melvin gets the slightest of edges for me for winning the AL West and finishing with the better record than the Orioles when both teams had low expectations. To win the AL West in a division with the back-to-back American League champions and a retooled, strong Angels team is amazing. The fact that Melvin did it while starting a rookie pitcher in more games than any other team in MLB history is even more amazing. Maddon gets my 3rd place vote, because I don’t think there is a manager that gets more out of his team and his strategy than the Rays skipper.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): Davey Johnson is the easy call here. The Nationals had the best season based on expectations. Johnson led the franchise to its first playoff appearance since 1982 and finished the season with the best record in the National League. Gonzalez gets my 2nd place vote as I wasn’t sure what could happen after the Braves collapse of 2011. They could have imploded and finished 69-92 like the Red Sox, but Gonzalez rallied the team to get the 1st Wild Card spot in 2012. Bochy is a close 3rd to me, just over Dusty Baker. I’m already second-guessing myself on that one, but I’m sticking with it.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): The Washington Nationals were bound to break out of their coccoon eventually, and an (almost) full season of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper helped Davey Johnson guide the ship out in Washington. Their pitching has been dominant, Ryan Zimmerman has put in his work at 3rd base for them, and Teddy actually got his first win!! Dusty Baker also gets a nod because the Reds just ran away with the NL Central. There’s no doubting they are the best team in that division and when Baker was out due to health issues, they still stayed energized and headed strong into the playoffs.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Davey Johnson has to win this award right? He led the Washington Nationals to their first playoff berth in franchise history leading the NL East for almost the whole season. Dusty Baker for all his short comings as a “manager” of his pitching staff was able to effectively use one of the best bullpens in baseball. Leading the Reds to the division title this season after finishing in third in 2011 with a record of 79-83. Im beginning to think that the St. Louis Cardinals are just a team that plays mediocre baseball for much of the season and then makes a push for the playoffs late in the season. This season under Mike Matheny was no different from last year than last year under Tony LaRussa but still not bad for a young rookie manager.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Davey Johnson is just a winner plain and simple. He won with a completely revamped team with a few key pieces from last year. Mike Matheny takes over the reins as Cards skipper and leads the defending World Champs to a playoff appearance that’s of the Wild Card variety.
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): Well, come on. I’ve got to give my boy Donnie Baseball a little third-place love up in here! Sure, Mattingly did a great job in L.A., but it’s nothing compared to the magic that Hurdle and Johnson have twirled in Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., respectively. I probably would have given the nod to Hurdle if the Pirates had reached 81 wins. But, Johnson instead snuck in after leading the Nats to a 90-plus win season, the number one seed in the playoffs, and an NL East division title for the first time since they were…the Senators? No literally, since the only people in America were British senators. At least that’s what it seems like. Long live the Expos!
Congrats to the Atheltics Bob Melvin and Nationals Davey Johnson on winning the 3U3D Managers of the Year!
What are your thoughts on Manager of the Year? Let us know in the comments!
“I’m going to go 50-50 next year. I’m telling you, y’all created a monster. I’m about to get back in the weight room super tough so I can be as strong as I was last year…I’m going to try for 50-50, which has never been done. I’m serious.” – Matt Kemp on a conference call, just hours after losing out on the 2011 NL MVP Award to Ryan Braun
I may be a Dodger fan, but it still doesn’t explain why this statement didn’t shock me. I mean, Alex Rodriguez, one of the best all-around baseball players the game has ever seen, never even broke 45-45 in the most epic season of his prime years. So where does Matt Kemp get off saying he can pull it off in 2012?
I don’t know. I really don’t. But I’d love to see it. The real question is, CAN he do it? Is it possible, in a day and age when steroids are scarcely part of the game like they were in A-Rod’s 42-46 year in 1998, for a five-tool player to put up those numbers?
We don’t even see 50 home run seasons from guys like Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder anymore. If the guys that live to slug the ball 500 feet can’t hit one every three games, is itreally plausible that Kemp can do it?
Last season, Kemp led the National League with 39 home runs and 126 RBI. He hit for a .324 average, falling eight hits short of the NL’s first Triple Crown season in over 70 years. Kemp also won a Gold Glove in centerfield, and swiped exactly 40 bags. By the way, he did this on one of the most wacky, inconsistent teams in the league.
So, yes. It’s POSSIBLE. I wouldn’t put money on it, but he’s definitely got the skills. This is what I think has to happen for Kemp to reach the unprecedented 50/50 (staying healthy is obvious, so it’s not included):
- Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera must produce – Rivera just ignited the Dodger offense last year after coming over mid-season. He’s always been a home run threat, but the overlooked statistic on Rivera is he’s a career .277 hitter. If he carries over the hot streak from 2011, Kemp is going to have a very scary bat hitting behind him, allowing for more hittable pitches over the course of a season. And with Ethier, it’s more a matter of health than anything. When he’s 100 percent, he is going to rake. Having Ethier and Rivera sandwiching Kemp would force pitchers to throw to Kemp, therefore increasing the home runs he hits, therefore…well, you can do the math.
- Dee Gordon must get on base – The little spark plug of the Dodgers offense in 2012 is going to be none other than Dee Gordon. Skinny Swag came up last season and just went off, getting on base at a ridiculous clip and of course stealing bases with ease. Avoiding a sophomore slump will be key for Gordon getting on base and continuing to produce. The more often Gordon is on base in front of Kemp, the more times Kemp will get a distracted, nervous pitcher on the bump who has to constantly think about the speedster taking off.
- Kemp must have the green light – Kemp’s 40 stolen bases last year is nothing to scoff at. He’s got great speed and a good instinct on the base paths. But if 50/50 is a realistic goal, we’re talking Kemp gets on first, and doesn’t even have to look for a sign. Chances are, he’ll have that green light, but if Don Mattingly is going to play it safe in 2012, Kemp won’t get to 50 steals just based on opportunity alone.
I think Kemp has a better shot at reaching the 50-steal plateau than the 50 homers. But, for a guy who hit 39 last year with limited protection and every opposing pitcher keying on him, you never know.
Surrounded by some big bats, Kemp is going to see more pitches to hit and he’s going to be motivated by the MVP snub. I won’t put it past a player this talented in his prime, but time will tell if he actually reaches the 50/50 mark.
By the way, if he does…is that the greatest statistical individual season in baseball history? Oh, that’s a discussion for another time. I for one can’t wait to watch Kemp’s attempt at history this season.