I’m not here to complain about Juan Pierre starting over Matt Kemp on Saturday night vs. Jake Peavy.
I’m not here to complain about Juan Pierre starting over Matt Kemp on Sunday afternoon vs. Chris Young, though it’s perplexing.
I’d really really like to complain about the fact that Juan Pierre’s going to also start on Monday night vs. Dan Haren, even though Pierre went 0-4 today and didn’t hit the ball on the ground once, but I’m not going to do that either.
Why? Because we’ve been over the mediocrity of Juan Pierre many, many, many times, and as he’s currently batting .091, I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet knows he’s just not all that good, so there’s no point in beating it into the ground. And also, Weisman beat me to it and did it much more eloquently than I could have anyway.
No, I’d rather look at the other side: it’s common knowledge that Pierre should not be playing, but you might not know just how much Kemp should be playing.
Here’s some names for you: Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Molitor, and Frank Robinson. I feel like I know all those names from somewhere. But where? And what do those names have to do with Matt Kemp? Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus points out something extremely interesting…
Here at Baseball Prospectus we have long warned of the dangers of overrating the importance of batting average. But still, .342 says something. That’s an impressive average for any hitter. For a 22-year-old hitter? More impressive still. For a 22-year-old right-handed hitter? It’s historic.
So for Kemp to hit as well as he did from the right side is most unusual. He became just the tenth right-handed hitter since World War II to hit .320 or better (min: 250 PA) at the age of 22 or less. It’s what you might call a pretty impressive list:Year Player Age AVG 1996 Alex Rodriguez 20 .358 2007 Matt Kemp 22 .342 1955 Al Kaline 20 .340 2001 Albert Pujols 21 .329 1956 Hank Aaron 22 .328 1998 Vladimir Guerrero 22 .324 2005 Miguel Cabrera 22 .323 1979 Paul Molitor 22 .322 1957 Frank Robinson 21 .322 1973 Cesar Cedeno 22 .320 1972 Cesar Cedeno 21 .320
That’s four Hall of Famers, three guys who probably would get voted into the Hall of Fame if they retired today, and a guy (Miguel Cabrera) who’s absolutely on a Hall of Fame trajectory. At the bottom of the list is Cesar Cedeno, who had one of the great “what if” careers in baseball history. And then there’s Kemp.
Hey, no one’s calling Matt Kemp a Hall of Famer. But we’re not talking about a list of 4 legends and 6 flashes in the pan. Every single one of those guys had excellent careers – even at the low end of this scale, Cesar Cedeno made four All Star teams. Pierre or not, unless our outfield suddenly consists of Carl Crawford, Grady Sizemore, and Ichiro Suzuki (note: it does not) isn’t that list of gods a pretty worthwhile reason to just let the kid play every day? I don’t want to completely rip off our compadres at Sons of Steve Garvey, but perhaps it’s time to update the “Don’t Be Stupid” box up there in the corner from “Trade Juan Pierre” to “FREE MATT KEMP!”
Despite some dreadful offensive performances this week, the Dodgers are still 4-2 and tied for first after taking 2 out of 3 in Petco, thanks to some great pitching performances. If we’d like to see the offense perk up, maybe we could, I don’t know, play the kid who’s shown some possibly historic talent? Maybe?
But I’ll keep my word, and this team is in first place at the moment, so this post is for talking up Kemp and not beating down Pierre.
Juan Pierre qualifies for his own list, though not one he’s eager to be seen on. Here’s the list of batters who have made the most outs in a season (outs being defined as at-bats minus hits, plus caught stealing and GIDP) over the last 25 years:Year Player Outs R RBI 1984 Juan Samuel 531 105 69 2005 Jose Reyes 528 99 58 2006 Juan Pierre 521 87 40 2007 Jimmy Rollins 521 139 94 2007 Jose Reyes 517 119 57
We include the runs scored and batted in totals to make the point that the other guys on this list at least have the excuse that all the outs they generated did lead to a significant offensive contribution. Pierre? Just to pick a name at random, Edgar Renteria scored as many runs last season as Pierre did in 2006, and drove in 17 more runners, while using up only 346 outs.
Hey – I said I wouldn’t dump on him today. That was all Rany!