Kemp building case as baseball's most underrated player

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Matt Kemp went 3-for-3 with a walk and the go-ahead homer in the eighth
inning yesterday afternoon, scoring all four times he reached base as
the Dodgers won 4-3. In performing his one-man show Kemp became the first player since Dick McAuliffe in 1968 to score at least four times while accounting for all of his team’s runs.

What makes Kemp’s feat particularly noteworthy is that he scored four
times despite batting seventh in the Dodgers’ lineup, so he had Brad
Ausmus and the pitcher’s spot behind him. Only five players in the history of baseball
have batted more times than Ausmus while posting a lower adjusted OPS+,
but last night he twice drove in Kemp with doubles before Kemp later
scored on back-to-back errors and his own homer.

Kemp is now batting .321/.385/.500 with 30 extra-base hits and 20 steals in 90 games, rates as the third-best defensive outfielder in the NL according to Ultimate Zone Rating, and ranks third in the league
in runs above replacement level behind only Albert Pujols and Chase
Utley. Oh, and Kemp is just 24 years old and hit .299/.342/.474 in 305
games prior to this season after batting .311/.359/.519 in the minors.

Despite all of that, Kemp wasn’t picked for the All-Star game while
eight outfielders and a grand total of 21 position players made the NL
squad and has inexplicably batted higher than sixth in the Dodgers’
lineup just 13 times. Meanwhile, he’s batted seventh 40 times and
either eighth or ninth 18 times. Has a 24-year-old career
.305/.352/.482 hitter and Gold Glove-caliber center fielder ever
received less credit?

As a wise man once said: “I’m speechless. Speechless. I have no speech.”

The 2019 Hall of Fame Class will be announced this evening

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This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was released just over two months ago. This evening at 6:15 PM Eastern, all of the arguing stops. Well, actually, it doesn’t stop, because it never stops. Not really. It just transforms into something more pointless, because as of then, the 2019 Hall of Fame class will be officially announced live on MLB Network.

The entire ballot can be found here. Two weeks ago I went through it, candidate-by-candidate, in order to determine who I would vote for if, in fact, I had a vote. For what it’s worth, I ended up with Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Manny Ramirez. and Scott Rolen.

No, not all of those guys will be elected. I strongly suspect we’ll get three, with an outside chance at a fourth. Based on the best Hall of Fame voting tracker out there, Mariano Rivera is a lock. So too, it seems, is Roy Halladay. Edgar Martinez — on the ballot for is tenth and final time — likewise seems to have the support to finally make it. He was 20 votes short last year and, so far, he has picked up more than 20 new votes among voters who have revealed their ballots. Assuming that previous Martinez voters who have not released their ballots do not backtrack — a safe assumption — Edgar should, at long last, finally make it into Cooperstown.

The last guy who, at present, is trending above the required 75% is Mike Mussina who, at present, is included on 81% of public ballots. There is a tendency for the non-public voters to be stingier with their support, however, so there’s a pretty decent chance that Mussina will fall just under the threshold and will find himself back on the ballot next year. A jump from last year’s 63.5% support to something in the 70s, however, would bode very well for his 2020 chances. If he somehow makes it this year’s class will rival last year’s four-person BBWAA-elected class as one of the better ones in living memory.

Who will join Harold Baines and Lee Smith on the stage in Cooperstown in July? We find out this evening, just after 6 PM.