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?
The Royals are a game and a half out of the crazy AL Wild Card race — six games back of the Indians in the division — so they don’t have a huge margin for error. They got some bad news last night, though, that could have a major impact on their playoff hopes: closer Kelvin Herrera experienced tightness in his right forearm in the ninth inning of last night’s win, forcing him out of the game.
Herrera walked the bases loaded, then went to a 2-0 count on the next batter before leaving the game. That last pitch was a fastball that clocked in at 91 m.p.h., which is NOT a typical Kelvin Herrera fastball. Herrera didn’t talk after the game but his teammate Sal Perez said that Herrera told him “I’m tight. I don’t feel my forearm.”
Reporters left the clubhouse before an official diagnosis or prognosis could be delivered, so expect an update some time today. If Herrera is out the closer duties could fall to Scott Alexander or Brandon Maurer.
Albert Pujols had a big night last night, driving in four runs as the Angels beat the Rangers 10-1. Three of those runs came on a three-run homer. That was the 610th home run of Pujols’ career, snapping a tie for eighth on the all-time list with Sammy Sosa. It also made him baseball’s all-time leader for home runs by a player born outside the U.S.
Pujols was aware of the accomplishment, of course, and noted how honored he was after the game:
”It’s pretty special. Obviously, all the great players from the Dominican Republic, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, they’ve gone through the big leagues and to be able to accomplish something like this is very humbling.”
After Sosa, who is from the Dominican Republic, comes Rafael Palmeiro (569); Manny Ramirez (555); David Ortiz (541); Carlos Delgado (473); Jose Canseco (462); Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera (459).