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 Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. Seems the Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West. They will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base full time and, if the M’s make the playoffs, in the postseason given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension. Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.
Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.
The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.