Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, June 30, 2011

This Would Be a First

Is it possible that the Dodgers finish in last place and at the same time have the League MVP and Cy Young winner?  Guess what?  I think it is very possible.  in fact, it just might happen.  Who would have thought that the Dodgers would tank in the standings and have such standout years from these two players?

If the voting were to take place today, how is it that Matt Kemp does not win the MVP?  Based on these numbers and his place among the league leaders, he is hands down the leagues Most Valuable Player so far.
Home Runs: 22, (1st)
Batting Avg.: .330 (2nd)
RBI: 63 (2nd)
OBP:  .415 (3rd)
OPS: 1.043 (1st)
SLG: .628 (1st)
WAR: 5.2 (1st)
Runs: 52 (6th)
Games: 82 (Tied for 1st)
Hits: 97 (3rd)
Total bases: 184 (1st)
Bases on Balls: 42 (7th)
Stolen bases: 22 (4th)
Extra Base Hits: 41 (Tied for 1st)
Sacrifice Flies: 4 (7th)
Intentional Base on Balls: 10 (Tied for 1st)
AB per Homer: 13.3 (2nd)
Matt Kemp is on a pace to easily eclipse 30 SB/30 HR.  Do we dare say 40/40 this season?
(photo by Allen J. Schaben/L.A. Times)

Additionally Kemp leads the league in a number of some more obscure sabermetric stats that many of the MVP voters aren’t familiar with.  These stats are probably more important than the many of the traditional ones listed above because they measure Kemp’s value when compared to his peers and his value and input towards his teams win total. Remember, he ranks FIRST in all of these.  They are:
Offensive Win%, Adjusted Batting Average, Adjusted Batting Wins, Runs Created, and Adjusted OPS.
The National League Most Valuable Player Award has gone to a player from a last place team once.   It happened in 1987, when Andre Dawson of the Cubs won it. (note: the A.L. MVP was once awarded to a player from a last place team in 2003 when Alex Rodriguez won it while playing for Texas).  
Dawson was the home run king that year (49) and also led the league in RBI (137), but he hardly dominated the league in 1987 while the Cubs went 76-86.  Though it was a fine year by Dawson, he wasn’t near the player that Kemp is currently with the Dodgers.  Dawson’s On Base % that year was a mediocre .328.  He simply didn't take too many walks.  Also, by 1987 his injured knees debilitated his defensive range.  A look back at the ’87 season shows that Dale Murphy, Darryl Strawberry, Jack Clark and even Tim Wallach were arguably better statistically than the Hawk that year.  But, no need to argue 24 years after the fact.
In 1987, these two were in contention for the MVP award.  Andre Dawson won it but Tim Wallach was no slouch.  Wallach's stat line was : .298 avg., 26 HR, 123 RBI, a league leading 42 doubles, .858 OPS in his best year as a pro.

By comparison, let’s look at where Kemp's stats stand thus far vs. Dawson in ’87 in the stats listed above:
Homers: Kemp (1st), Dawson (1st)
Batting Avg.: Kemp (2nd), Dawson (22nd)
RBI: Kemp (2nd), Dawson (1st)
OBP:  Kemp (3rd), Dawson (42nd)
OPS: Kemp (1st), Dawson (10th)
SLG: Kemp (1st), Dawson (6th)
Runs: 52 (6th), Dawson 15th
Games: Kemp (Tied for 1st), Dawson (16th)
Hits: Kemp, (3rd), Dawson (6th)
Total bases: Kemp (1st), Dawson (1st)
Bases on Balls: Kemp (7th), Dawson (83rd), (note: Kemp already has 10 more walks than Dawson did for that entire season)
Stolen bases: Kemp (4th), Dawson (48th)
Sacrifice Flies: Kemp (7th), Dawson (78th)
Intentional Base on Balls: Kemp (Tied for 1st), Dawson (36th)
It should be noted that Dawson failed to make the top ten in sabermetric stats such as WAR, Adjusted OPS, Adjusted Batting Runs, Adjusted Batting Wins, Offensive Win %,  and Win Probablity Added.  Additionally he ranked amongst the league leaders in “outs made” (6th).  Did the Chicago media and WGN broadcasts have that much pull in the MVP voting in 1987?  He should have never won that award.
Let’s take a look at Kershaw’s numbers with regard to the Cy Young award and comparisons with other pitchers this year.
Kershaw and Koufax pose for photo in 2008.  Will Clayton join Sandy as another Dodger left hander to win the Cy Young Award?
Kershaw’s stats:
WAR: 4.0 (6th, amongst pitchers he ranks 3rd)
ERA: 2.93 (10th)
Wins: 8 (9th, but just two wins from the top)
W-L%: .727 (7th)
Walks and Hits per IP: 1.029 (3rd)
Hits per IP: 6.789 (3rd)
Strikeouts per IP: 9.874 (1st)
Innings Pitched: 116.2 (3rd)
Strikeouts: 128 (1st)
Complete Games: 3 (3rd)
Shutouts: 2 (2nd)
Strikeouts/Walks: 4.0 (4th)
I can see Kershaw’s ERA improving as the season wears on as he has more Dodger Stadium starts at night and additional games against division opponents in places like San Diego and San Francisco.  Others ahead of him in the ERA race should see a rising of their numbers as the temperatures go up. The Philly pitchers (Hamels, Halladay and Lee) are fantastic, but as July and August arrive, Philadelphia heat allows balls to travel further in that bandbox of theirs.  They’ll have ERA’s that rise.
Clayton Kershaw has almost abandoned the curve ball in favor of the slider this season.  The result has been lower pitch counts and ground outs via contact.

Kershaw should have another few shutouts in him this year.  I see him finishing with 18 wins, 225 strikeouts, 5 shutouts, 7 complete games with an ERA at 2.75.  That would have him leading the league in all those statistical categories except wins and ERA, where he’ll be in the top 3-5.  Those numbers should be enough to be the first Dodger Cy Young award winning starting pitcher since Orel Hershiser in 1988.
There you have it.  the Dodgers finish in the cellar and have the best position player and pitcher in the League.  I say it is very possible.   So in a year when there really hasn’t been much to root for, we have an interesting second half to look forward to when it comes to the individual performances of both Kemp and Kershaw.

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