Matt Kemp Takes on Padres by Himself Tonight & Eugeni-O Goes for History


 

Matt Kemp is on a different planet than any other hitter in Major League Baseball right now. Trailing in the triple crown race by 2 home runs and 9 points in batting average heading into last nights contest, Kemp decided to take manners into his own hands.

After doubling 3 times and scoring twice in his first 4 at-bats, Kemp hit a 2-run homer in his final at bat. It was one of his trademark moon shots no offense to Wally Moon who originally trademarked the term for his high majestic home runs, Kemp has taken it to another level. Last night his home run literally was in the air for 5 seconds before it cleared the center field fence.

So really moon shot isn’t an appropriate term for the balls that Kemp is hitting, he’s hitting the ball so high and so far that moon shot is almost an insult. So I need help from our readers. Wally Moon will always be attributed with the term moon shot so I need your assistance in coming up with an applicable description of the magnificent homers Kemp is hitting these days.

Something like Kemp Crush or Matty Mash or something along those line, so please take a moment and help me come up with something clever to appropriately describe the remarkable homers Kemp is hitting.

After last nights effort Kemp has a legitimate shot at the triple crown. He leads Ryan Howard by 5 RBI and Prince Fielder by 6, and there’s a good chance those 2 will get some rest the last few games of the season. He trails Albert Pujols by 1 HR , and at .326 is only 4 points behind Ryan Braun for the batting title. The concern is Braun may get some days off once the Brew Crew clinch as their magic number currently sits at 2, so Kemp may need to hit hit his way to the batting title as the field may not come down to him.

Oh by the way he now leads the NL in runs scored and OPS, and is 2nd in stolen bases and hits. It’s a travesty that there is even a debate on who is the NL’s MVP but Kemp may very well need to win the triple crown to lock up the MVP. What makes him more amazing is that he doesn’t have Prince fielder or Ryan Braun hitting behind him. Just take a look at tonight’s Dodgers lineup and that alone should give Kemp the MVP. Here is tonight’s lineup and with the exception of Dee Gordon and Jerry Sands it’s not pretty:

1. Dee Gordon – SS

2. Justin Sellers – 3B

3. Matt ‘MVP’ Kemp – CF

4. Jerry Sands – RF

5. Trent Oeltjen – LF

6. Russ Mitchell – 1B

7. Tim Federowicz – C

8. Eugenio Velez – 2B

9. Ted Lilly

Yes folks Trent Oeltjen is hitting 5th tonight for your Los Angeles Dodgers. The most exciting thing about tonight’s lineup, aside from watching Kemp continue his exploits, is Eugeni-O Velez will continue his quest to have the longest streak to begin a season without a hit. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated has a fantastic article about the historic futility Velez is currently achieving. At 0-33 for the season he simply needs to go 0-for-2 to match the worst single season hitless streak in MLB history. As Verducci puts it:

If you exclude all pitchers, nobody ever has come to the plate 36 times in a season without getting a hit.

But wait there’s more, o so much more:

Velez is threatening a 75-year-old record: the worst hitless season in history. He is the anti-Ichiro.

When Velez was hit by a pitch Wednesday, it was his 36th plate appearance of the year, none of which have resulted in a hit. He is 0-for-33 with two walks and the one HBP. If you exclude all pitchers, nobody ever has come to the plate 36 times in a season without getting a hit.

The record holder is Hal Finney, a backup catcher for the 1936 Pirates who was hitless in 35 tries — all of them official at-bats (i.e., no walks or hit by pitches.) Finney, though, had something of a decent excuse. He was a .240 career hitter when he was driving a tractor one day after the 1934 season on his father’s farm in Alabama. Suddenly a tree limb broke and cracked Finney across his forehead. His eyesight was so impaired that he was placed on the voluntary retired list in 1935.

After sitting out the 1935 season with impaired vision, Finney, then 30, decided to try a comeback. He went 0-for-35 and retired.

The Dodgers have seven games left and the drama is intense every time Velez might get to the plate. With two hitless at-bats, he can tie Finney’s record for most at-bats in a hitless season. With each hitless plate appearance, he can extend his record for most plate appearances in a hitless season. (Number four on that list: David Ortiz, who had 25 hitless appearances for the 1999 Twins.)

Or he could completely forfeit his place in history by actually getting a hit.

But wait. There’s more. Velez is 1-for-60 (.017) since April 20, 2010. His last major league hit was May 18, 2010. Since then he is 0-for-42 — just three at-bats away from tying the record for the longest hitless streak in history, set in 1909 by Bill Bergen, tied in 1973 by Dave Campbell and matched again this year by the Brewers’ Craig Counsell.

That’s right: after 101 years with one 0-for-42 slump, we are just three at-bats away from having a second one this year alone.

Now, Velez at-bats are rare events themselves these days. He has come to plate only four times this month. But with so much history riding on each appearance, I have a message for my MLB Network colleagues: Each Velez plate appearance is worth a live look-in. The tension of the Velez Watch is almost unbearable.

I’m almost as excited with Velez’s futility as I am with Kemp’s MVP pursuit, okay not really but it really is remarkable. Just how in the hell is this guy taking up a roster spot, when you have a young player by the name of Ivan De Jesus Jr. who for the 2nd year was snubbed by the Dodgers when the September call-ups were announced.

So please Eugeni-O at least go o for 3 tonight so we can get you to 0-for-36 and get that record out of the way. And Don Mattingly willing, Velez will get the at-bat’s he needs to set the greatest futility mark in the history of hitting, oh how sweet that would be. And again the question remains, with Velez on the verge of breaking a 75 year old mark for being terrible, how has he been on the Dodgers roster since July 4th?

So we’ve got 2 exciting things to check out tonight, Matt Kemp’s quest for greatness, and EugeniO’s quest for futility or the antithesis of Kemp, it really is almost too much drama and intrigue to handle.

 

Tags: Dee Gordon Eugenio Velez Jerry Sands Justin Sellers Matt Kemp NL MVP Prince Fielder Russ Mitchell Ryan Braun Ryan Howard Ted Lilly Tim Federowicz Trent Oeltjen Wally Moon