Matt Kemp & The Trouble With Rate Stats

Never jump the gun with rate stats

With a three run home run on September 24, Matt Kemp reached the 100 RBI plateau for the first time in his career.  It also made him, as you can see by the Prime Ticket graphic above, the first Dodger in history to hit .300 with at least 25 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and 100 runs batted in during the same season.

The only problem: the season isn't over yet.

The problem with rate stats, like batting average, is that they can change.  They can go up or down so the only time to claim a certain accomplishment like this is after the season is completed.

Baseball isn't like football.  Counting stats can only go up.  Well, I suppose one could lose some hits due to the discovery of a factual error, such as Ty Cobb's career hit total changing from 4,191 to 4,189, after Pete Rose broke his all-time record.  In football, negative yardage can ruin the best laid plans of mice and men.  Joe Posnanski recounted the story of former Atlanta Falcon Dave Hampton in 1972:

Then on the first play of the fourth quarter, they gave it to Hampton, and he rushed for five yards. One yard away. The next play, they gave him the ball up the middle, and he picked up the precious one yard, he was at exactly 1,000. Cheers! Celebration! They actually stopped the game right there so the crowd could cheer Dave Hampton. They gave him the game ball. I love when they stop games for really obscure achievements, like becoming the first player in Atlanta Falcons history to gain 1,000 yards. Then, you have to understand that in 1972, there had not been that many great sports moments in Atlanta. The day belonged to Dave Hampton.

But, of course, that would not be much of a story. You know what’s coming. A little later in the quarter, Atlanta quarterback Bob Berry dropped back to hand off to Hampton and slipped on some ice. He only barely managed to get the ball into Hampton’s hands before four Chiefs defenders came crashing in. You bet. It was a loss of 6 yards. And suddenly that game ball didn’t feel so great. And because the Chiefs scored late, the Falcons had to throw the ball to try and come back. Hampton got only one more carry, for 1 yard. He finished with 995 yards.

I don't remember the Dodgers stopping the game for Kemp, but there will be time enough for celebrating his accomplishment, if he does it, when the season's done.  Kemp has four hits in his last 27 at-bats, and his average has dropped to .299003. 

Here's a look at what Kemp will need to do over the next two days to keep his average above .300:

At-Bats Hits Needed AVG
1 1 .3002
2 2 .3013
3 2 .3008
4 2 .3003
5 3 .3015
6 3 .3010
7 3 .3005
8 3 .3000
9 4 .3011
10 4 .3007

There are a few notes here.  Kemp can go 1-for-2, 2-for-5, or 3-for-9 and get credit for hitting .300, but it would only be due to rounding.  To me, .29951 doesn't equal .300.  There is plenty of opportunity for Kemp to hit .300, but all that matters is what that final number is.

Oh, and if The Bison can get eight or nine total bases over the next two games, or six total bases in one game, he will likely become the first Dodger center fielder to slug .500 since Duke Snider.  Good luck, Matt!

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