Daily Dodger in review: Matt Kemp, superstar delivered
Final 2011 stats: (deep breath now) .324 batting average, 39 homers, 126 RBI, 115 runs, 40 stolen bases, and .399 on-base percentage and .586 slugging percentage.
Contract status: Oh, maybe you heard he signed this little deal on Friday. No biggie, unless eight years and $160 million happen to capture your attention.
The good: What’s left to say about one of the greatest individual seasons in team history? Led the league in homers, RBI, runs and total bases (353).
The difference in Kemp from the previous season was a joy to watch. Whether it was because of a change in the manager, the coaching staff, breaking up with Rihanna, anger over his 2010 season, simple maturity or a combination, Kemp was a highly focused player.
The results were everywhere, clearly at the plate, but also on the bases and the outfield. He was the complete player, the superstar critics and fans had been pining for.
The bad: Let’s see, fell a homer shy of the 40-40 club? Finished only third in the National League batting race? Blew up at the All-Star Home Run Derby? Still couldn’t make those baby-blue throwback jerseys look good.
What’s next: More of the same? Anyway, that’s the eight-year plan. Kemp is now a foundation for the Dodgers to build around, regardless of who the new owner turns out to be.
The take: It will be difficult to match his 2011 season, though for $160 mil he will be expected to be in the neighborhood. That’s a new pressure for Kemp, but he clearly seems to have learned his lessons.
He came into camp in great shape, took off from the season opener and never looked back. Unlike the previous year when he seemed to borderline sulk, he was a happy player who clearly was enjoying himself and his sport. Of course, ridiculous success can do that.
He has already won Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. The NL MVP award being announced Tuesday, where I expect he’ll come in a close second to Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, and there’s hardly any shame in that.
Kemp will be 34 in the final season of his contract. He’s locked up through his prime, and if he stays healthy, they could be some remarkable years.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Matt Kemp. Credit: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport / US Presswire