When watching the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, shades of past glory in California come shining through.
Remember the days of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco in Oakland? I don't...I was born in the 80's, but I've seen the footage.
Just watching two players electrify a crowd like McGwire and Canseco did draws parallels to today in Chavez Ravine. Add to the beat Silver Slugger Awards for two-thirds of the Dodgers outfield, and the stage is set for a new slugger-duo dynasty.
The numbers speak for themselves: a combined 57 home runs and 207 RBI in 2009. In the prime of their time together, the tandem of McGwire/Conseco hit 80 home runs and drove in 231 runs (1987). Granted, Ethier and Kemp have yet to reach those marks, but with the pace they have set thus far this season, it is possible.
So far in 2010, Kemp leads the majors with seven home runs, tied with Nelson Cruz of Texas and Vernon Wells of Toronto. Ethier is only two strokes off the pace with five homers. The young outfielders have also combined for 36 RBI through the first 15 games.
Perhaps the most glaring element that sets the Dodgers sluggers apart from their historical counterparts is the ability to hit for average. Kemp is a batting .300 in his young career, and Ethier is a respectable .293 through four-plus seasons.
In McGwire's career, he batted just .263, while Canseco was a career .266 hitter. Even so, the pairing of McGwire and Canseco was the signature of the '80s decade for baseball, and I see no reason why the next decade shouldn't belong to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
To ignore the fielding abilities of the Dodgers' outfield patrolmen would be a major oversight, and a travesty.
Quite frankly, there is no comparison in the realm of fielding. The Dodgers duo wins, hands down.
I don't need to remind everyone of Jose Canseco's fielding accolades; he's on every bloopers reel and Best Damn Top 50 countdown for all the wrong reasons.
McGwire and Canseco made names for themselves (even though they would later be tarnished) by hitting home runs. They knew their roles, and they did them well. However, Ethier and Kemp have established themselves as premier five-tool players. Both have strong power hitting, average hitting, fielding, throwing, and baserunning skills.
Kemp and Ethier are undoubtedly the heart of Dodger baseball, and it is only likely that they will continue to bring fans to Chavez Ravine for years to come.
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