|Los Angeles Dodgers – No. 27|
September 23, 1984 |
Midwest City, Oklahoma
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|May 28, 2006 for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||559|
|Career highlights and awards|
Matthew Ryan "Matt" Kemp (born September 23, 1984) is an American professional baseball player. An outfielder, Kemp plays in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 2006.
Kemp was drafted by the Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2003 MLB Draft and made his major league debut in 2006. In 2011, Kemp led the National League in runs scored (115), total bases (353), OPS+ (171), WAR (7.8), home runs (39), and runs batted in (126). Additionally, he became the first player to finish in the top two in both home runs and steals since Hank Aaron in 1963. He has been named to 2 All-Star teams and has won 2 Gold Glove Awards (2009 and 2011) and two Silver Slugger Awards (2009 and 2011).1
Kemp attended Midwest City High School in Oklahoma, where he was a standout in basketball and baseball.23 He was teammates with Shelden Williams on the varsity basketball team that won the state title their junior year.
Kemp, along with Williams and three other teammates, were accused of raping a 19-year-old woman at the time of a high school all-star basketball tournament on January 20, 2002, at the Columbus, Ohio Hyatt hotel.456 The players were suspended from the team during the investigation.7 The woman did not press charges, and the district attorney opted to not pursue the matter due to a lack of evidence.8
Kemp was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2003 draft, and signed with the team on June 5, 2003.
He started his professional career for the Gulf Coast Dodgers in 2003 and followed that up with stints with the Columbus Catfish in 2004 and the Vero Beach Dodgers in 2004–05. At Columbus and Vero Beach, Kemp improved his power numbers. After hitting just a single home run with just 5 doubles in 43 games, Kemp became more of a power hitter. In 2004 with Columbus, he belted 18 home runs to go along with 27 doubles in 122 games, and in 2005, he belted 27 home runs to go along with 21 doubles in 109 games.9 In 2003, He was selected to the Florida State League All-Star team in 2005, and set Vero Beach franchise records for home runs (27) and slugging percentage (.569).
He began 2006 with the AA Jacksonville Suns, where he hit .327 with 7 homers, 34 RBIs and 11 steals, prompting a promotion to the major league squad. His promotion was spurred by an effort to provide regular rest for center fielder Kenny Lofton and oft injured right field All-Star J.D. Drew.
Kemp made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 28, 2006, against the Washington Nationals.10 He got his first career major league hit that same game, a single off of Jon Rauch.11 He hit his first Major League homer on June 1 in his second Dodger Stadium at-bat off the Philadelphia Phillies' Gavin Floyd. He homered in three straight games from June 1–3 against the Phillies and homered twice on June 11 off Colorado Rockies starter Aaron Cook. He also became the first Dodger and 5th major league player to hit four homers in his first 10 days with the team.3
In mid-July, he was re-assigned to the AAA Las Vegas 51s but was recalled to the Dodgers on September 1. In his second stint in the Majors, Kemp struggled. He batted just .156 with a .182 on-base percentage and a .250 slugging percentage in September and October combined.12 By season end, Kemp showed some power, with 7 home runs and speed, with 6 stolen bases but he struggled with his batting average and getting on base. He batted just .253 and posted an on-base percentage of .289.1
Kemp started the 2007 season on the major league roster but lost his place after suffering an injury while running into the outfield fence at Dodger Stadium. Upon his return from the injury, he was optioned back to Las Vegas and didn't return to the Dodgers until mid-June. Returning to Triple-A and playing for the Las Vegas 51s, Kemp played well in his short stint. In just 39 games, he had a .329 batting average, .374 on-base percentage, and a .540 slugging percentage. He slammed 4 home runs, drove in 20 runs, and stole 9 bases out of 11 attempts.9 Once recalled, he enjoyed an outstanding sophomore campaign with the bat batting .342, clubbing 10 home runs, and driving in 42 runs while splitting time with Andre Ethier. However, he made the fourth most outs in the base paths in the National League in 2007.
Going into the season, Kemp was expected to battle for one of the corner outfield positions, though his spot in right field was essentially guaranteed. Kemp hit his first career grand slam off of Mark Redman on April 26 against the Colorado Rockies, in the same game that teammate, pitcher Brad Penny recorded his 1,000th career strikeout. Kemp drove in the first run of the game for the Dodgers, a sacrifice fly in the first inning that scored Juan Pierre.13 After driving in 11 runs and stealing 6 bases. He was named "NL Player of the Week" for the week of April 28 – May 4.14
After a knee injury to Andruw Jones, Kemp became the Dodgers' regular center fielder. His best month of the season was in July, in which he had a .324 batting average, .402 on-base percentage, .537 slugging percentage to go along with 5 home runs, 14 runs batted in, and 10 stolen bases.15 That month also sparked Kemp's career high 19-game hitting streak, which it lasted from July 9 through August 1. His longest hitting streak of his career ended on August 2. However, Kemp got back on track the next night by having a 3-hit game to go along with a home run.16 He finished the season with a .290 average, 18 homers and 76 RBI. He was also second on the team in stolen bases with 35.17 In addition, he set a Dodgers record with 153 strikeouts in a season.1 In his first career postseason game, Kemp went 1 for 4 with a double. However, he batted just .154 in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. Both of his hits went for doubles. In the NLCS, against the Philadelphia Phillies, Kemp did better, batting .333 as the Dodgers lost the series to the eventual World Series champions.1
Kemp had his first career walk-off hit on June 16 against the Oakland A's.18 On September 24, he became the first player in Dodger history to hit at least .295, with 25 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 30 steals in one season. He finished the year with .297, 26 home runs, 101 RBI, and 34 steals (3rd in the NL). His 10 runs batted in in extra innings were the most that a player has driven in extra innings since 1991 and he became the first player to reach double-digits in this category since 1982.19
He hit his first career post-season home run on October 7 in his first at-bat of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. After the season, Kemp was selected as a recipient of both the Gold Glove Award and the Silver Slugger Award. He also tied for second with three others in the majors with 3 grand slams.
Kemp began the 2010 season in excellent fashion, hitting 7 home runs in the month of April, including 4 in four days from April 13–16. On June 1, Kemp hit his first career walk-off home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks off of relief pitcher J. C. Gutierrez, giving the Dodgers the only run of the game. Kemp described his first career walk-off home run as "it was a great feeling, getting my first walk-off home run".20 However, he slumped badly in the second half of the season and finished with a .249 batting average, 28 home runs, 89 RBIs, and 19 steals while playing in all 162 games for the first time in his career. He also broke his own single-season Dodger record for strikeouts, with 170.
Kemp was the subject of some criticism in 2010 from General Manager Ned Colletti who called him out publicly early in the season for poor baserunning.21 Kemp had several embarrassing gaffes on the base paths during the season and was caught stealing 15 times.22 One big reason to why Kemp struggled was him hitting with runners in scoring position. He belted 7 home runs and drove in 61 runs in 160 at bats. However, on the downside, he struck out 49 times and batted just .225 in that spot. Another reason was because Kemp struggled when facing right-handed pitching. He batted just .233 with a .299 on-base percentage to go along with 22 home runs and 69 runs batted in, as opposed to a .295 average against left-handed pitchers.23
He hit home runs in five straight games to end the season, the first major league player to ever accomplish that feat and the first Dodger since Shawn Green in 2001 to hit homers in five consecutive games.
After his much publicized problems on the base paths the previous season, Kemp arrived at spring training early to work with new Dodger coach Davey Lopes on his base running. Kemp announced his intention to steal 40 bases this season and Lopes hoped they would be high percentage steals.24 At the end of the season, Kemp had the 40 steals and was only caught 11 times, a significant improvement in percentage from the previous year, and his work with Lopes was credited for much of the improvement.25
On April 17, Kemp hit his second career walk-off home run, doing it in the 9th inning off of St. Louis Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin, on a 2-2 count that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 victory."26 In a game against the Atlanta Braves five days later, Kemp hit his second walk-off home run of the season, this time in the 12th inning off of Braves pitcher Cristhian Martinez.27
After being one of the league leaders in home runs, stolen bases, RBIs, and batting average during the first half of the season, Kemp was voted as a starter for the National League squad in the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Arizona. He also accepted an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.28
The day before the All-Star Game, Giants' manager and 2011 NL All-Star Manager, Bruce Bochy, announced his decision to bat Kemp 3rd in the line up. Explaining his decision, Bochy said about Kemp, "He's a guy with speed, power, a guy that can beat you with a base hit or a long ball. He's what you call a complete player – tremendous defender, but more so in the 3-hole, he can do so many things for you. He's so dangerous."29 Kemp, with a single and a walk, became the first Dodger to reach base twice in an All-Star Game since Mike Piazza in 1996.
Kemp hit his 30th home run of the season on August 26, and in the process became the second Dodger player of all time to hit at least 30 homers and steal at least 30 bases in the same season (30–30 club). The only other one was Raúl Mondesí in 1997 and 1999. He picked up his 40th stolen base on September 17, becoming the 18th Major Leaguer and first Dodger in history to hit at least 30 homers and steal at least 40 bases. Kemp also scored his 100th run of the season, making him just the 10th L.A. Dodger to score 100 runs and have 100 RBIs in a season, and the first since Jeff Kent in 2005. He hit his 35th home run on September 21, making him the 14th Major Leaguer (and first since Alfonso Soriano in 2006) to hit at least 35 home runs and steal at least 35 bases in a season.
On September 20, the Dodgers announced Kemp was selected by his teammates as the recipient of the 2011 Roy Campanella Award, which is given annually to the Dodger player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Roy Campanella.30 He also won the NL Player of the Week Award for the week of September 19–25, 2011 after he hit .423 (11 for 26) with 9 runs scored and 3 home runs during that week.31
Kemp wound up hitting 39 home runs in 2011 with 126 RBIs, leading the league in both categories, the first Dodger to do so since Dolph Camilli in 1941. He also led the league in runs scored (115), total bases (353), OPS+ (171), and WAR (10.0). He finished second in slugging percentage (.586), OPS (.986), extra base hits (76), and stolen bases (40, tied), and third in batting average (.324) and outfield assists (11).32 Kemp also extended his games played streak to 364 games, as he played in every game of the season. He was the first player to finish in the top two in both home runs and steals since Hank Aaron in 1963.
After struggling to hit with runners in scoring position the previous year, Kemp bounced back and hit well with runners in scoring position. In 155 at-bats with runners in scoring position, he hit .335 (52-for-155) with 13 home runs and 87 runs batted it. And against right-handers, he batted .319 (150-for-470) with 28 home runs and 94 runs batted in.33
Kemp was selected for a number of post-season awards, including the Baseball America Major League Player of the Year,34 the Hank Aaron Award for the top hitter in the National League (the first Dodger player to ever win the award)35 the Gold Glove Award and the Silver Slugger Award. On October 27, he was named to the 2011 Sporting News National League All-Star team.36 On November 22, he came in second to Ryan Braun in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.37
After the season, Kemp signed a franchise record 8-year, $160 million contract extension.38 After signing his extension, he predicted that he would become the first player in history to have a 50-50 season.39
Kemp started the 2012 season off by winning the National League Player of the Week award for the opening weekend. He hit two home runs and drove in eight RBI during the opening series against the San Diego Padres. He was also the first Dodger to record three consecutive multi-hit games to start the season since Adrián Beltré did it in 2000. This was the third time he had won the award, and second consecutive as he had won it the final week of 2011 as well.40 On April 10, Kemp became the first LA Dodger to have an RBI in the first five games of the season since J. D. Drew in 2006 and, counting the end of the previous season, he had nine straight games with an RBI, tying Roy Campanella (1955) and Augie Galan (1944) for the Dodgers franchise record.41 Kemp also won the Player of the Week award for the second week of the season, which, combined with winning the award in the last week of 2011, makes him the only player to ever win three consecutive awards. He is also only the second player to win the award twice to begin the season, the other being Tony Armas in 1981. Kemp hit 12-22 with 4 HR and a 1.182 slugging percentage, leading the club to its best 10-game start since 1981.42
Kemp hit his 10th home run of the season on April 25, tying Gary Sheffield's club record for homers in April set in 2000.43 He broke Sheffield's record with a walk-off homer against the Washington Nationals on April 28.44 Kemp was also named National League player of the month for April.45 Kemp was placed on the disabled list on May 14 because of a hamstring injury, ending his streak of 399 consecutive games played, which was the longest in the majors at the time.46 After his DL stint, he promptly re-injured his hamstring two days later while running the bases and returned to the DL.47 Despite missing about 2 months with injuries, Kemp was voted by the fans as a starter for the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. As he was still on the disabled list, Kemp did not play in the game but he did participate in the Home Run Derby for the second straight year, hitting one home run in the Derby. Kemp finally returned to the Dodgers lineup on July 13 after missing about two months with his hamstring injury.48
Kemp's injury woes continued as he crashed into the outfield wall in Colorado on August 28 and injured both his knee and his shoulder.49 He continued to play despite the injuries and finished the season batting .303 with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 106 games. His 9 stolen bases were his fewest since his first season.
After the season, Kemp underwent surgery on his sore shoulder to repair a torn labrum and some minor damage to the rotator cuff. He was told that he wouldn't be able to swing a bat again until January.50
However, Kemp struggled out of the gate in 2013, due to his shoulder surgery in the offseason. On May 27, Kemp went 0-for-5 with 4 strikeouts and was booed heavily by the majority of the Dodgers crowd. Teammate Adrian Gonzalez said that Kemp was "trying too hard for the team and the fans."52
On May 29, Kemp injured his right hamstring in a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He left during the seventh inning and did not return to the game.53 Kemp was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 30.54 He spent time rehabbing at Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers spring training home and was close to returning when he suffered a setback on June 9.55 Kemp returned to the Dodgers on June 25 in a game against the Giants, after missing 24 games. In the same game, Kemp made the game-ending catch by reaching over his shoulder to make the catch, robbing Marco Scutaro of a hit.56 He returned to the disabled list on July 8 after experiencing pain in his surgically repaired shoulder.57 He returned from the DL again on July 21 against the Washington Nationals and was 3 for 4 with a home run and a double in the game. However, he injured his ankle in a play at home plate in the ninth inning of the game. After initially expressing optimism that the injury was not serious 58 he again was placed on the 15-day DL on July 24.59 Reacting to criticism of his string of injuries, Kemp was quoted as saying "I'm not made of glass."60
Kemp's ankle injury took a lot longer to heal than had been expected61 and the team reported that they hoped to get him back in September.62 However, when he finally began his minor league rehab assignment at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga in late August, he struggled at the plate and the return date was pushed back.63 He went hitless in five games, with seven strikeouts and when the minor league season ended on September 2 he was moved to Camelback Ranch to continue his rehab rather than being activated.64 A few days later, he experienced tightness in the same hamstring he hurt earlier in the year, and the Dodgers shut him down indefinitely.65 He eventually rejoined the Dodgers lineup on September 17 and had four hits (including two doubles) in four at-bats.66 He played regularly in an attempt to get his timing back before the playoffs. However, he was a late scratch from a game on September 28 because of soreness in his ankle. An MRI the following day revealed major swelling in a weight-bearing bone in the ankle. Kemp was told that if he kept playing the ankle could break and leave him with chronic problems for the rest of his career. He was shut down and the team announced he would not be available for the playoffs and would have surgery to repair the problem.67 He had appeared in only 73 games in 2013 due to the various injuries, and hit .270 with 6 home runs and 33 RBI.
Kemp's nickname is "The Bison."68 During the second major league game of Kemp's career, on May 29, 2006, he stole second base in the fourth inning, after which Atlanta Braves television announcer Don Sutton said he looked "like a big buffalo running around the bases." The observation was appropriate due to Kemp's imposing size – the Dodgers' roster lists him at 6' 4" tall and 225 pounds – and surprisingly fast foot-speed. The word "buffalo" was modified to "bison", by the commenter D4P69 on Jon Weisman's popular Dodgers blog, Dodger Thoughts,70 as it is a more proper term for the North American mammal to which the moniker refers. It wasn't until the next day when the starting lineup did not include Kemp that baseball writer Eric Enders, also commenting in Dodger Thoughts added the capitalized article in front of the animal, completing the nickname, writing "So much for looking forward to watching The Bison tonight."71
Kemp is actively involved in charities for children, even creating a community initiative called Kemp's Kids in 2008 and 2009 that hosted children from the Los Angeles area during several games at Dodger Stadium. Some of these children were from the Challenger Boys & Girls Club.76
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|National League Player of the Month