Matt Kemp has a shot at the triple crown

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At the outset, I’d like to remind people that I saw Matt Kemp play in a spring training game back in February, observed that he was in great shape and hustled his ass off even though he was with a decidedly B-squad Dodgers team that day and that he looked primed for a big season. You know, for the record.

Kemp had a big game near the end of his very big season last night, hitting a two-run homer, smacking three doubles and scoring three times in the Dodgers win over the Giants.  For the year that puts Kemp at .326/.403/.582 with 36 homers, 118 RBI and 40 stolen bases. On top of that is great defense in center field. And he’s doing it on a team that has had every reason to mail it in if it wanted to since, oh, May.

And here’s something I didn’t realize until a reader pointed it out to me yesterday: the dude has a chance at the triple crown.

Kemp leads the NL in RBI with 118, which is five ahead of Ryan Howard.  He is one home run short of Albert Pujols’ league-leading 37. Batting average may be the toughest, as his .326 is four points behind Ryan Braun’s league-leading .330 and three behind Jose Reyes’ .329, but it’s not impossible to close a four-point gap in six games. Heck, Kemp gained four points on the idle Braun yesterday alone.

In the event Kemp is able to pull this off, he will be the first NL triple crown winner since Joe Medwick did it with the Cardinals in 1937.  And of course, the first person in either league since Yaz did it in 1967.

MVP?  Is there any doubt?

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.