I saw a cool segment on MLB Network yesterday. Larry Bowa was choosing the over/under on Matt Kemp's final stats for 2012. Now, everyone knows about his desire to go 50/50 after being snubbed in last year's MVP voting.
Those numbers are a bit of a stretch, but not entirely impossible, considering his Ruthian start to the season. Through 16 games, he's hit 9 home runs, has an average well over .450 and 22 RBI. He's only swiped one bag, but that's mainly due to having to jog around the bases too often.
Now it's my turn - will Kemp reach these harrowed grounds?
Over/Under 50 HR
Over. Forget that he's on pace to hit about 90 bombs. That's not going to happen. But, 50 is reasonable. Not only is Kemp locked in, but he's hitting most home runs to the opposite field. That is the mark of a good hitter - power to all fields. He's got more protection around him this year and should be seeing more pitches to hit. The only thing that might stop him from getting to 50 is if pitchers start intentionally walking him to avoid damage. Prediction: 51
Over/Under 50 SB
Under. It sucks, but it's just not plausible this year. He has the speed (he stole 40 in 2011), but he's not even going to get enough opportunities to reach 50. His power is back, which is great, but it also means he'll spend more time getting extra-base hits, and less time on first base in steal situations. However, if pitchers DO start giving Kemp the Barry Bonds intentional walk treatment, he might creep close. Prediction: 42
Over/Under 125 RBI
Over. I'm not sure why this was the number that Bowa chose to analyze, considering he had more RBI than this in 2011. So naturally I'm going to expect even more this year. The lineup surrounding Kemp is better in 2012 and technically he's on pace to drive in about 240 runs. Of course he won't do that, but this is a good number to start with. I'm looking at him pushing the 140-RBI threshold. Prediction: 144
Over/Under .330 average
Over. I legitimately believe Kemp will be chasing .400 at the end of the year. I know it sounds crazy, but he's got the right approach at the plate and can pretty much hit any pitch. He's going to have to cut down on strikeouts if he wants to really challenge that number though. If he's still hitting around or over .400 by August, we're talking about a very realistic shot here. Prediction: .394
Over/Under 1.000 OPS
Over. Really? What kind of question is this? All he has to do is get on base at a .400 clip and slug .600. He'll get on base about .450, so he has plenty of wiggle room for the slugging percentage. This one is a lock. Write it down, get a money back guarantee, and take it to the bank. Prediction: 1.088
So, yes. I think Kemp will challenge both .400 and 50/50. He'll fall short of both, but he could take home the Triple Crown and a unanimous MVP award. Stay tuned! It should be a fun season for Dodgers fans.
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