Matt Kemp Is Smarter Than You Think

Matt Kemp has been the Dodgers' best player this season.  A hitter with power, who hits for average too, while playing a mean center field.  He is hitting .301/.356/.499 with 26 home runs, 34 steals, 100 runs batted in, and 96 runs scored.  He leads the club in Wins Above Replacement, with 5.4, according to our friends at the fine website, Fangraphs.  He leads all centerfielders with 13 assists.

I believe Kemp is easily the Dodgers' most valuable player this season, but I'm willing to entertain other arguments.  Andre Ethier has been amazingly clutch with his six walk-off hits, and I can understand if his poor rating in ultimate zone rating is viewed with skepticism.  Randy Wolf has been the horse of the rotation, Clayton Kershaw leads the club in ERA, and Jonathan Broxton has been dominant as a closer this season.

If anyone wants to put forth an argument that one of those players has been better than Matt Kemp in 2009, I won't agree with them, but I'm willing to listen to a compelling argument.  However, I implore you, please don't resort to writing drivel like this, from Paul Oberjuerge:

Matt Kemp is the Biggest Dodger Dolt

Okay.  Right off the bat, we see where Oberjuerge, who "spent nearly 31 years as a sports editor, sports columnist and metro columnist for Gannett and MediaNews while based in Southern California," according to his website, is coming from.  This is not going to be a "nice" column.  Oberjuerge continues:

Is there a dumber guy in baseball than Matt Kemp? Not talking real-world IQ (but maybe we could), but "dumb plays involving a guy who no longer is a kid." Baseball IQ, that is.

And on that scale, is anyone dumber than Matt Kemp?

Did Kemp run over Oberjuerge's dog or something?  There seems to be a lot of vitriol spewing from him so far.  Who knows?  Maybe Kemp thought Christine Daniels was attractive, and was offended by Oberjuerge's blog post from two years ago

Oberjuerge goes on, outlining why he thinks Kemp is dumb:

Search your mind, for a moment, and consider how many times you have seen Matt Kemp thrown out on the bases. Yeah. A lot. Not as often as you’ve seen Juan Pierre ground out weakly to second (that’s a number in the hundreds), but a lot. Somebody somewhere must have that stat, Matt Kemp outs-made on basepaths …. and I will bet you $5 that (subtracting caught-stealing) no one in baseball has been tagged out on the bases more often than Matt Kemp.

Kemp, including today, has made seven outs on the bases this season.  Plus, he has been picked off six times as well.  That is 13 total outs on the bases.  There are 10 players in baseball who have made more outs than that, plus six more that have made as many outs:

Player PO OOB Total Outs
Chone Figgins 11 11 22
Carl Crawford 7 12 19
Denard Span 9 10 19
Dexter Fowler 6 10 16
B.J. Upton 10 6 16
Scott Podsednik 11 5 16
Nyjer Morgan 9 7 16
Jacoby Ellsbury     7 7 14
Brian Roberts 5 9 14
Yadier Molina 3 11 14
Pablo Sandoval 1 12 13
Adam Kennedy 2 11 13
Elvis Andrus 3 10 13
Michael Cuddyer 3 10 13
Alex Rodriguez 3 10 13
Matt Kemp 6 7 13
Juan Pierre 6 7 13

Mr. Oberjuerge, you owe me $5.  He continues his Bison hate-fest:

Matt Kemp tries to take extra bases all the time. And often doesn’t make it. He gets doubled off a base. He strays too far off the bag and gets picked off. He’s just a disaster out there. And this has to do with a really low baseball IQ.

The amazing Baseball-Reference.com tracks just about everything, including percentage of extra bases taken.  They define XBT% as "percentage of times the runner advanced more than one base on a single, or more than two bases on a double, when possible."  Matt Kemp has taken the extra base 52% of the time.  The league average is 39%.  Kemp comes out ahead of the curve here.

Bill James Online tracks base running, both while stealing bases and running the bases.  In just base running gain, Chone Figgins leads MLB with a +30, meaning he has gained 30 more bases than an average player just while running the bases.  The top ten in base running gain include players at +19 and above.  Kemp is at +18, meaning he has gained 18 bases more than the average player just while running the bases (not while stealing).  Does someone in the top 11 or so in this category seem like a dumb base runner to you?

Oberjuerge rambles on, and even blames Monday's 11-1 loss on Kemp's baserunning error.  He also adds this finishing nugget:

I’ve been thinking about this for some time, while watching Matt Kemp play. And marveling at what a complete dope he is.

That's funny, because I've been thinking of how great it is to have one of the very best players in baseball playing for the Dodgers.  While I and other Dodger fans enjoy the exploits of The Bison, let the ill-informed continue to hate the Dodgers' best player.

After all, ignorance is bliss.

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