Kemp hoping to add to Dodgers' postseason awards
It's already been a pretty good offseason for Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. It may get even better on Tuesday when the Baseball Writers' Association of America hands out the National League's Most Valuable Player award.
Kemp, who recently signed an eight-year, $160 million extension with the Dodgers, enjoyed his finest year as a pro this past season, as he nearly pulled off a Triple Crown despite little or no protection in the middle of a Dodgers lineup that produced just 82 wins.
The 27-year-old Kemp, who has already been named the NL's Hank Aaron Award winner, hit .324 (third in the NL) with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, leading the NL in home runs, RBI, runs scored (115) and total bases (353).
A 2011 NL All-Star, Kemp also finished among league leaders in multi-hit games (57, tied for first), hits (195, second), slugging percentage (.586, second), extra-base hits (76, second), stolen bases (40, tied for second) and on-base percentage (.399, fourth).
He also became the seventh player in major league history to finish the season ranked in the top three in homers, batting average, RBI and stolen bases in their respective league and the first since Aaron in 1963.
The biggest obstacle to Kemp winning could be the fact that he played for the Dodgers, a team that barely finished over .500. Of the 22 MVP awards handed out since 2000, only three have gone to a player on a team that finished more than two games out of first place. Los Angeles ended the year 11 1/2 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
However, four of the past 11 winners in the NL did not play on a postseason team.
Should he win, though, he will be the 11th different Dodger to so, but the first since Kirk Gibson in 1988. It would also mark the first time that teammates won both their league's MVP and Cy Young Award in the same season since 2005 when St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter did so.
Of course, Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was named the NL's Cy Young Award winner last week.
Kemp's main competition figures to come from a pair of Milwaukee Brewers in outfielder Ryan Braun and first baseman Prince Fielder. The dynamic duo paced the Brewers to an NL Central crown this past season with a franchise-record 96 wins.
Braun led the league with a .994 OPS and .597 slugging percentage, and finished second with a .332 batting average, 336 total bases and 109 runs scored. He finished fourth with 111 RBI and tied for sixth with 33 home runs.
He was also the NL Player of the Month in September, a time when most voters were deciding on their MVP choice.
One of the more coveted free agents on the market this winter, Fielder hit 38 home runs and drove in 120 runs hitting behind Braun this season. He was second in the league in walks (107) and on-base percentage (.415), while being the only player in the majors to play in all 162 games.
Milwaukee hasn't had an MVP winner since Robin Young took home the second of his two AL awards in 1989.
Others figuring to get votes include Pujols, who has finished in the top-10 in each of the last 10 seasons, as well as Arizona's Justin Upton and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard.
THE SPORTS NETWORK PICK: MATT KEMP, LOS ANGELES