We’ve got columnists writing columns about his “slump”; we’ve got Tweeters a-Twittering over the lack of #Beastmode; we’ve got reporters reporting and annoying Don Mattingly to no end with inane questions about Kemp’s sudden “inability” to hit.
Let me first remind you that Kemp is a very good hitter in April, historically. Let me then remind you that over his last 1,000 at-bats or so as a Dodger, Kemp is hitting .315 with over 60 home runs and just under 200 RBI. Let me also remind you that he had major shoulder surgery in the off-season and couldn’t even swing a bat until about a month ago.
And then let me tell you why Kemp’s 0-for-everything start is not a big deal:
1. He’s swinging it well
Yes, he’s taken a couple bad third strikes and rolled over on a couple of very fat pitches (you think he doesn’t realize this?). Also, he’s been basically worthless with runners in scoring position, failing to accumulate a single RBI despite four opportunities with men on base in last night’s game against the Giants. But what is lost amid the flurry of anarchy is that he stroked a deep fly ball right to Angel Pagan in his first at-bat against Tim Lincecum, and then hit a hard line drive right to Pagan again in his second at-bat. Similarly, he put a couple good swings on the ball against Madison Bumgarner the night before that went right at someone. You can stare at the .000 batting average as long as you want, but it won’t tell you the whole story.
2. He’s Matt Kemp
Aside from his rough 2010 season (he still accumulated nearly 30 homers and 90 RBI), in which he hit a paltry .249, Kemp has been stellar and consistent throughout his tenure as a Dodger. He’s never hit below .290 or had an on-base percentage below .340 in any other season in the big leagues. The man is a good hitter, who like all other good hitters, will have his streaks and his slumps. But Dodgers fans know better than anyone that an 0-for-10 quickly turns into a 10-30, which quickly balloons to a 20-50. The hits will fall, people. Please have patience.
3. He’s not alone
I can’t believe I have to resort to this, but it seems only fair given the general psychosis surrounding Kemp’s slow start. Just to appease the masses, I’ve compiled a quick list of other notable sluggers who have struggled in their first three or four games of the year (you know, out of only 50 times that many over the course of the season…). Note: Chris Davis will NOT be appearing on this list.
In no particular order: Paul Konerko (1-for-12), Jason Kipnis (0-for-9), Albert Pujols (1-for-11), Josh Reddick (2-for-13), Jose Reyes (1-for-8), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-12), Joey Votto (1-for-10), Giancarlo Stanton (1-for-9), Allen Craig/Matt Holliday combination (6-for-31), Jayson Werth/Adam LaRoche/Danny Espinosa combination (2-for-32)
Do you feel better now? Do you really think any of the men listed above are going to fall into a spinning whirlpool of doom? Please return to your normally scheduled lives now, and find a real topic to complain about. Writers, maybe you can jump on Carl Crawford’s fast start or Michael Morse’s 162-homer pace instead? Not news? Okay.
Don’t forget to vote in this poll below, which I had absolutely no influence over…
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
The inevitable question arose as soon as the San Francisco Giants stormed Sergio Romo on the mound in Detroit after clinching their second World Series title in three years: Is Giants manager Bruce Bochy a Hall of Fame manager?
It’s a damn good question. Bochy is one of the quietest, most respected baseball men in the game right now and has proven himself over and over again to be a brilliant tactician from the dugout. He has an uncanny way of getting the most out of any roster and any player.
Take the Giants for example. In 2010, that might have been the weakest team (as far as star power goes) that has won the World Series in a very long time. But Bochy managed to squeeze every last ounce of talent out of guys like Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Jonathan Sanchez.
And in 2012, he moved two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, started Barry Zito in Game 1, stuck with Hunter Pence amid postseason struggles, and gave a vote of confidence to struggling lefty Madison Bumgarner in an essential Game 2.
Every single move Bochy made in both World Series runs paid off in huge dividends – and after a while, you can’t truly believe they are all coincidences. Take it from a diehard Dodgers fan; Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager.
Let’s examine the case for Bochy based on comparison:
Manager A – .502 career win percentage in 18 years, 3 league pennants, 2 World Series titles
Manager B – .583 career win percentage in 17 years, 4 league pennants, 1 World Series title
Manager C – .526 career win percentage in 21 years, 4 league pennants, 2 World Series titles
As you can see, all three of the managers were at the job for about the same amount of time, and were within one of each other in pennants and World Series titles.
The difference is, Manager B and C are both retired and in the Hall of Fame. Manager A is Bochy, who has as many years as he wants left in San Francisco as a Major League Baseball manager. At age 57, it’s not out of the question to think Bochy will manage for at least another decade.
And the Giants are built to win – with that pitching staff, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval anchoring the lineup, and a very good scouting department, you’d have to think it’ll be a little while before the Giants go back into re-building mode.
With that being said, Bochy’s record also has to take into account a couple of things. First, despite having the lowest winning percentage of the three managers above, he spent most of his career with a San Diego Padres team that was good for a few seasons late in the 1990’s and…no, seriously. That’s it.
Manager B, Earl Weaver, was in charge of a loaded Baltimore Orioles team for 17 years, and had the benefit of a very talented roster. Manager C, Tommy Lasorda, also had a loaded Los Angeles Dodgers team during his career. Arguably, Lasorda’s worst playoff team was the 1988 title-winning club, but still very good overall.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Weaver or Lasorda, but the fact that Bochy has matched or exceeded them in number of pennants and World Series titles already is exceptionally impressive.
These days in Major League Baseball, fans are often too quick to jump onto the Hall of Fame bandwagon for players and coaches who were good for a number of years, great for a few years or just simply a fan favorite. I don’t think that is the case with Bochy though.
When all is said and done, I think Bruce Bochy will be enshrined as a Hall of Fame manager. Do you agree? Vote below!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
After 2,430 regular season games and 31 postseason games, we’ve reached the World Series. The Tigers and Giants will do battle in the Fall Classic for the first time against each other. The Tigers are making their 1st appearance in the World Series since 2006 and are looking to bring Motown their first title since 1984. The Giants took home the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2010. Side note: can’t we get the World Series trophy a better name? There has to be someone in baseball history worthy of having the World Series trophy named after them, right? That’s a discussion for another time.
Here at 3U3D, one of us each predicted half of the World Series matchup, with Angelo correctly predicting his favorite team, the Tigers, making it. While I had the Giants losing to the Yankees in the Fall Classic, I’ll take half right.
Who will win the World Series though? Our full predictions are coming on Episode 33 of the podcast that will be up before game one, but I just can’t resist giving the full breakdown on the blog!
One of my main reasons for picking the Giants to go to the World Series in the preseason was their starting pitching depth. How can they match-up with the Tigers now though, with a rested Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and even Anibal Sanchez. The Giants have been pushed to the brink in each of their two series. This results in Barry Zito having to start game one against the defending AL MVP, that has a 0.74 ERA in 26.1 innings this postseason. Not good for San Francisco. Madison Bumgarner has been roughed up during this playoffs, but wasn’t used in the Giants NLCS comeback. Bruce Bochy’s decision to start Bumgarner, the 2010 World Series hero, or Tim Lincecum may swing the series. Matt Cain should be good to go for games 3 and 7. The depth, quality, and rest of the Detroit’s starting pitching gives them the edge here.
Wednesday Update: Here are the starting pitcher matchup that were announced. Game 1: Verlander vs. Zito Game 2: Fister vs. Bumgarner Game 3: Sanchez vs. Vogelsong Game 4: Scherzer vs. Cain I’m shocked that Bruce Bochy isn’t starting Cain in game 3. As I said on this week’s podcast, I think the theory is that Bochy wanted to have his two best pitchers face the Tigers when they are at full strength with the DH in Detroit. They believe to have figured out Bumgarner’s problems, it makes it looks a little better and Lincecum is suited for the bullpen. Anibal Sanchez is fantastic in his career against the Giants, 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 36.1 innings. That game 3 is going to be huge.
Advantage: Detroit Tigers
Jose Valverde’s implosion turning into Phil Coke’s success has been a strage turn for the Detroit bullpen. Coke was great against his former team in the ALCS, but that might have just been a culmination of the Yankees completely falling apart. Joaquin Benoit is Detroit’s best reliever and Octavio Dotel has become this bullpen playofs mercenary that goes from team to team. I don’t think it’s enough to best the Giants bullpen. Sergio Romo is arguably the best relief pitcher in the game, with a devastating slider. Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez haven’t given up a run in thirteen appearances this postseason. This is one of San Francisco’s biggest strengths and I have a feeling the Tigers bullpen has one blow up in them.
Wednesday Update: Tim Lincecum will be in the bullpen for the Giants. Making this an even bigger advantage for San Francisco.
Advantage: San Francisco Giants
Another great strength for the Giants. Buster Posey scuffled offensively in the NLCS, but called three straight great games behind the plate in the Giants comeback. Alex Avila has been terrible in postseason play hitting .127 in 63 playoff at-bats, including .227 in 2012. Gerald Laird will get at least one start. They don’t match-up with the probable NL MVP though.
Advantage: San Francisco Giants
This is the biggest plus for the Tigers. Brandon Belt has gotten better, including a home run in game seven of the NLCS, but how can he match one of the top first baseman in the game? Prince Fielder is only hitting .200 in the playoffs, but provides such a threat that it makes pitchers throw to Miguel Cabrera. If you pitch around the Triple Crown winner, it makes Fielder that much better.
Advantage: Detroit Tigers
Is there a hotter hitter coming into the World Series than NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro? Scutaro hit an insane .500 and had a record SIX multi-hit games in the NLCS. Omar Infante has been a solid pickup for the Tigers and has a hit in 7 of 9 postseason games in 2012. These have both been positions of strength for the World Series teams, but I’m going to have to ride the hotter hand.
Advantage: San Francisco Giants
I think Brandon Crawford is going to be solid player in the future, but I can’t see him being any more than a player the Giants hope doesn’t hurt them here. He’s been solid defensively, especially that catch off Kyle Lohse in game seven. However, I love the postseason experience of Jhonny Peralta, who’s hitting .343 in the 2012 playoffs and is a career .297 postseason hitter. It gives the Tigers another piece in the arsenal that the Giants don’t have offensively.
Advantage: Detroit Tigers
Yes I know, this is a no doubt advantage for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera, right now, is the best hitter in the game. Pablo Sandoval, in my opinion, is the biggest key for the Giants offense. No pun intended. Sandoval is hitting .326 this postseason and .378 since game five of the NLDS. He needs to stay hot in order for the the Giants to have a chance hang around. Cabrera can put an final stamp on an epic season. Frank Robinson in 1966 was the last player to win the Triple Crown and the World Series in the same year, he was also the World Series MVP. This is the national stage that Cabrera deserves to shine.
Advantage: Detroit Tigers
I’m so glad to have a “fat” young sibling back in our lives. I’ve already started calling him “Fat Delmon” the way I called his brother “Fat Dmitri” for numerous seasons. Nicknames aside, Young has provided a spark for the Tigers lineup with a hit in 7 of his last 8 games. Speaking of sparks, no player has provided one off the field like Hunter Pence for the Giants. His pregame speeches have become must-see TV, however on the field Pence has been missing hitting .179 in the NLCS. Could his bases-clearing “triple hit” be the turning point for him at the plate? Austin Jackson and Angel Pagan seem to be mirror images of each other, but I give the edge to Jackson primarily for his defense. Which leaves the 3rd outfielder spot, Gregor Blanco in left for the Giants against the pupu platter of Andy Dirks, Quintin Berry, and Avisail Garcia. I think Berry will be used more defensively, but I can’t really see any of the three providing much here. Naturally, this means they will provide something. In the grand scheme, I can’t decide which is better. Which means it’s time for the first…
Two old-school guys with a World Series ring on their hand and now their 3rd pennant on the mantle. I can’t think of a match-up on this board that is more even. Should be great to see how these to mix and match their teams.
Final Mapes Prediction: In my matchups the Tigers take it 4-3-2. The Giants have this thing where they like to be down two games and come back. I’ll have the Tigers taking the first two on the road with Verlander and Fister. Cain rallies back in game three to beat Scherzer. The Giants then win a wild game four, where the Tigers bullpen comes into play. Tigers take game five on the arm of Verlander again setting the Giants up down 3-2 and heading back home again. They repeat what they did in the NLCS, but in a more competitive game seven, where both teams pull out every stop. It’s going to be a great match-up, but ironically it’s Melky Cabrera’s All-Star Game MVP that gives the Giants home-field advantage and the World Series. Giants in 7. Enjoy the Fall Classic, should be a great one.
Wednesday Update: I still think the Giants take it in seven as they put together nine innings from Vogelsong, Cain, and the bullpen while pulling out all the stops in the final game. They still will be down 2-0 going to Motown and Bochy ends up looking smart saving his two best pitchers for the road. Verlander takes game five and locks down the best postseason pitcher in the league award, that he probably already has anyway.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Next up in our awards series is the Cy Young. We’ve been saying all season that NL Cy Young was the most wide open awards race in the league, with 7-10 players having a legitimate case at the award. Only eight though, received votes from 3U3D, our apologies to Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and Madison Bumgarner. Let’s take a look at the Cy Young race!
Our AL Cy Young Thoughts:
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): How do you choose between those top four, honestly? King Felix doesn’t have quite the numbers of the others, but he did pitch an absolutely brilliant perfect game. Then again, Weaver has the numbers and a no-no to go with it. Price has been the quiet stud keeping Tampa Bay in the playoff race, and Verlander is being Verlander in Detroit, dominating all power categories on the stat sheet. I’m going with my gut here and giving Price his first career Cy Young award by a smidgen over the reigning winner in Detroit.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Justin Verlander repeats as AL CY Young because he remains the most dominant pitcher in the game. JV is 2nd in ERA (2.64) to Price (2.56), 2nd in WHIP (1.06) to Weaver’s (1.02). First in IP (238.1) by 6.1 innings and 1st in complete games with 6; the next closest pitcher had 4. Verlander also finished 1st in SO with 239. He was 3 wins off the AL lead with 17 but also didn’t have a favorable amount of run support. Not to mention he was within 1 out of his 3rd No Hitter.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball last season and once again he proved to be the best this season. He led the AL in strikeouts and although Price’s ERA may have been slightly less Verlander had two more starts and pitched in 27.1 more innings. If Hernandez pitched for a better team he would have a better chance of winning this award this season. How can he not be considered though having more complete game shutouts than any other pitcher had complete games.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): You’ll see a theme in my Cy Young picks as I went with the two pitchers that won more games in each league, because winning games is what it’s all about. For Weaver to lead the league in wins, winning percentage, WHIP, and hits/9. This to me proves that he was the best pitcher in the American League in 2012. Verlander we know is great and is a strong #2. In the battle of great Rays pitchers this season, I’m giving the slight edge to Fernando Rodney, who really solidified Tampa’s bullpen when Kyle Farnsworth went down, while I think the Rays rotation would have been strong even without David Price.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): David Price did everything in his power to knock off the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP, but in the end it just wasn’t enough for me to put him at the top. Would you rather have a 2.64 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP over 238.1 innings or a 2.56 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP over 211 innings? I think it’s the first option clearly and that’s why Verlander is my Cy Young winner. He led the American League in pitcher WAR, strikeouts, complete games, and adjusted pitcher wins, while being 2nd in ERA and WHIP. It’s what we’ve come to expect from the best pitcher in the game. Rodney had one of the best reliever seasons and deserves serious consideration after posting the lowest ERA by a pitcher with 50 innings pitched in league history. At first glance, Sale over Weaver may look wrong, but to me it’s right. Sale was better than Weaver in WAR, adjusted ERA+, runs and wins.
Our NL Cy Young Thoughts:
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): When we look back at the 2012 season, I believe there are going to be four things we truly remember, the World Series champion, Mike Trout’s historical rookie year, Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown, and R.A. Dickey. The 37-year old knuckleballer became the first Mets pitcher since 1990 to win 20 games, which is even more amazing when you factor in that the Mets only won 74 games total. Dickey’s 1.05 WHIP is incredible when you factor in he’s throwing a knuckler (Tim Wakefield’s career WHIP is 1.35). Plus, he led the league in strikeouts. He’s the best story and the best pitcher in the NL in 2012. Johnny Cueto gets my silver spot, as he was incredible when you factor in that he was pitching half the time in one of the biggest hitters havens in the Majors in Cincinnati. Cueto led the NL in adjusted ERA+ and was second in pitcher WAR. Kershaw’s numbers were great as he fell one strikeout short of winning the pitching Triple Crown. Kimbrel was the league’s best closer, striking out more than half the batter he faced and had one of the best slugging percentages against in league history. He’s near unhittable, but gets penalized for not throwing enough innings. Gonzalez and Medlen I couldn’t decide so I put them both. Medlen’s conversion to the Braves rotation may have saved them in the 2nd half. Gonzalez led the league in wins, but you could almost make a case Jordan Zimmermann was the most valuable pitcher on the Nationals this season.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): I gave the edge to Gonzalez again because he led the NL in wins and K/9. His dominance is what let him stay in games longer and pick up more wins. Gonzalez was the best pitcher on the best team in the National League and deserves the Cy Young. Medlen over Dickey is a controversial pick I’m sure, but Medlen put the Braves on his back in the 2nd half and got them to the playoffs. Dickey got to pitch in a relaxed environment in a pitchers park for a near-last place team. The knuckleball just seems like a fluky gimmick to me. I’m surprised that Matt Cain was only on my ballot, not sure why he remains so underrated. He only threw the 3rd most innings, while posting the 4th best ERA and 2nd best WHIP. He even threw one of the most dominant games in the history of baseball, what else does he need to do?
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): R.A. Dickey won 20 games for the Mets. Let that sink in for a minute, 20 games for the Mets. I know Kershaw’s numbers were better but come on the kuckleballer had it working this season and anybody willing to throw something going that slow at a professional athlete deserves to be rewarded in some way. Kershaw had the best season statistically but he won the award last season and who knows if Dickey will ever get a chance to win it again. Johnny Cueto had a fantastic season for the NL Central Champions. Leading that rotation posting a career high in innings pitched and winning 19 games.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Kimbrel has had a season for the ages as a closer. He became the first pitcher ever to K HALF of the hitters he faced. He only allowed 26
hits all year, making his opponent’s BA a measly .123. Oh not to mention his stellar WHIP of 0.65. Kershaw showed dominance and so did Gio, winning 21 games.
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): This is another close race, pitting a lot of very quality starting pitchers against each other for the league’s greatest honor at the position. This award has so much talent in the running that guys like Stephen Strasburg and Matt Cain and Kyle Lohse are left off my ballot completely. I’ve got to go with the fantastic story that is Dickey for 2012, as his numbers barely edge the others and he’s a KNUCKLEBALLER for heaven’s sake! How can you not love this guy? When I ran the numbers, I see that Kershaw led the Majors in ERA and WHIP this season, and fell one strikeout shy of the K title in the National League (behind Dickey). But the fact that Dickey has similar numbers, but a better record, on a much worse team and he primarily throws a knuckleball is enough for me to crown him. It’s not an award based on a cute story, it’s based on him being the best pitcher in the league for 2012.
Congrats to R.A. Dickey and Justin Verlander on winning the 3U3D Cy Young Awards!
Who makes your Cy Young ballot? Let us know in the comments! Love our personal ballots? Hate our personal ballots? Hit us up on Twitter, we want to hear from you! And tell us here who you think should be the Cy Young winner for each league: