Matt Kemp: 5 Reasons the Los Angeles Dodgers Slugger Should Win NL MVP

John Bain@John_BainCorrespondent IISeptember 2, 2011

Matt Kemp: 5 Reasons the Los Angeles Dodgers Slugger Should Win NL MVP

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    After a tumultuous season for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, whether it be the off-field ownership issues of Frank McCourt or just the poor season on field that has the Dodgers under .500 for the second time in six years and well out of the playoff hunt, there is one bright spot on the everyday squad.

    Matt Kemp.

    Kemp, who is having another good year, is in the talks for NL MVP honors and rightfully so. This could be his best professional season to date, and he is among the leaders in all statistical offensive categories.


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    One thing that has probably been forgotten in recent MVP seasons, with Kemp's 2011 year as no exception, is his fielding. Kemp won a Gold Glove back in 2009 and could win one again in 2011. 

    Among center fielders, Kemp is in the top two for assists and double-play balls, to go along with 299 putouts and a .987 fielding percentage.

    So much emphasis is put on Kemp's play on offense that his fielding skills are often ignored, but they should play a role in his MVP bid.

Runs Scored and On-Base Percentage

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    Often times, the guys with the most RBI won't also have the most runs scored themselves, but for Matt Kemp this has not been the case in 2011. 

    Kemp has not only knocked a lot of his own guys in this year, but he has scored 88 runs of his own, ranking him fifth in the NL.

    Known as a big home run guy, Kemp has improved his on-base percentage to the best it has ever been in his career at .395, and he has allowed so many other sides of his game to improve, including scoring more runs.

    Currently, Kemp sits sixth among eligible NL batters with his .395 OBP and will be looking to improve it even more going into September. 

Stolen Bases

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    One other factor of Matt Kemp's game in 2011 that has allowed him to be a more all-around player and MVP calibre is his skill of stealing bases.

    Kemp has already surpassed his career high of 35 stolen bases with 36 and is alone at second place in the NL only behind Michael Bourn of the Braves.

    Kemp's 36 stolen bases have allowed him to become just the second Dodger in their history to have a 30-30 season (30 HRs and 30 steals).

    If Kemp's stolen bases don't have him in the MVP talk for the NL, something is wrong. Star, all-around players have lost the art of stealing but not Kemp. He continually improves in that category, along with just about every offensive statistic. 

RBI, RISP and Overall Average

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    In 2010, Matt Kemp struggled hitting his own men home unless it was by way of home run, putting up an average of .225 with men in position.

    In 2011 however, he is averaging .316 with men in position and hitting fewer double-play balls.

    This in turn has allowed Kemp to broaden how he provides the Dodgers with runs. So far in 2011, Kemp is third in the NL with 102 RBI, just two back of leader Ryan Howard. 

    To go along with breaking the century mark with RBI for just the second time in his career, Kemp is hitting .300 for just the first time in his career and is in fact at .321 to date ranking him fourth in the NL.

    This is a huge improvement over his past two seasons where he batted .297 in 2009 and .241 in 2010. Any player that is able to keep a high average doing all the things he does on offense deserves an MVP award. 

Home Runs

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    We all know that in order to win MVP as an offensive star, the player must have a lot of home runs. That is just what Kemp has. He is second among NL batters in 2011 with 31 homers, three behind NL leader Albert Pujols. 

    Most MVPs can't hit 31 home runs, score 88 runs on their own, steal 36 bases and hit in 102 runs in a season, but Kemp has done just that this season.

    Kemp has more than 30 home runs for the first time in his career and is on pace for the best year of his young career. He is poised to hit a few more homers before seasons end as well.

Matt Kemp Should Win NL MVP

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    There is only one downside in Matt Kemp's quest for the 2011 NL MVP crown. The Dodgers aren't playoff bound.

    It seems as though voters are swayed in their votes based on how valuable the player is to his team in their trek to the playoffs.

    Well, it is time for the writers to change their mentality and look at a player's season for what it is. Matt Kemp is arguably the most all-around player in the majors in 2011 whether it is in the outfield, around the basepaths or at the plate.

    For Kemp to not win the MVP in 2011 would be a shame. This is not to say that he does not have worthy competition, of course he does, but for Kemp to have the year he has had, with the team he plays for, is quite an understatement. 

    Everything Matt Kemp has done in 2011 has been an improvement, and he deserves the NL MVP award.