It’s simple really. Cold, painfully, depressingly simple. Matt Kemp will not be the 2012 NL MVP. Matt Kemp will not go 50-50 or even 40-40 this season. Matt Kemp probably will not play in the 2012 All-Start Game and he more than likely will not win a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger award this year either – not because he isn’t talented enough for any of these things, Lord knows he is. No, he will not reach these lofty goals simply because he will be on the disabled list for at least a month and probably longer; and if there is one absolute in baseball it is that the game waits for no one and will continue on without him – just as it has for nearly a century and a half. And as it continues on, those who are (were) his competition for these prestigious awards and goals will continue adding to their numbers while Kemp and his numbers are on hold. It’s nobody’s fault, we all know that, even Matt Kemp knows that. “It’s definitely nobody’s fault. It’s just what happens in sports… happens when you’re fast,” said Kemp trying to make light of this extremely unfortunate situation.
Make no mistake about it, Kemp’s loss is a devastating blow to the Dodgers and one that might very well bring a screeching halt to their run for the 2012 World Series… but maybe not.
Lost in Kemp’s incredible MVP-ish first two months of the 2012 season is something that most baseball media people have missed completely – even local media people. There is this guy named Andre Ethier who, in Matt Kemp’s shadow, has piled on incredible numbers of his own thus far in the 2012 season; and get this – they too are MVP-type numbers. Unfortunately and almost insulting, when Ethier’s 2012 numbers are mentioned, including his National League-leading RBI numbers, they are usually done so as an afterthought and usually at the tail end of national sports reports and go something like “…and still leading the NL in Runs Batted In is Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier” – if even mentioned at all.
Through 50 games, Ethier is hitting .333 (4th in the NL), has an OBP of .360 (12th in the NL), has 9 home runs (12th in the NL), 17 doubles (2nd in the NL), and (as mentioned) leads the National League with 44 RBIs. And while these may not be MVP-type numbers at this moment, they clearly have Ethier within striking distance in the Triple Crown categories of average, home runs and (of course) RBIs.
Sure Matt Kemp has excited us to no end over the past couple of seasons and he will undoubtedly continue to do so throughout his recently signed 8-year contract, but so too has Andre Ethier, who just so happens to be in his walk (free agency) year. If this isn’t a loud and clear message for the new Dodger ownership to sign Ethier to a long-term contract extension (and soon), nothing is.