PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: National League All-Star Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers participates in the first round of the 2011 State Farm Home Run Derby at Chase Field on July 11, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since July 11, 2011
almost 2 years ago Update 0 comments
Matt Kemp has 22 home runs in 92 games this season, just six off his career high, but he learned first hand on Monday night just how hard the Home Run Derby can be. Kemp hit just two home runs in the first round in the 2011 MLB Home Run Derby, and finished last among the eight contestants. It was the fifth time a Dodger has participated in the event, and none of them have advanced past round one.
Kemp hit sixth of the eight contestants, and struggled out of the gate. Dodgers bullpen catcher Rob Flippo, who pitched to Hee Seop Choi in the 2005 Home Run Derby, owned the inside of the plate, as Kemp made nine outs before hitting his first home run. Luckily, both home runs hit by Kemp earned $18,000 for charity in a joint effort by MLB and State Farm.
"It's definitely not as easy as everybody thinks it is. Usually when we're taking BP, we have the screen around us, the cage," Kemp told Pedro Gomez on the ESPN broadcast. "It was a great experience and hopefully I can get back in it and do it again. I know what to expect."
Choi remains the top Dodger performance in the contest, with five home runs in 2005. Mike Piazza had zero home runs in both 1993 and 1994, and Raul Mondesi hit two in 1995. Kemp will bat third and play center field for the National League in Tuesday's All-Star Game.
For more information on Matt Kemp and the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.
almost 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The Dodgers have not had a good season on the field, at 41-51 and a full 11 games behind the Giants in the National League West. But they have had a few individually great seasons, including one by Matt Kemp, who is having his best season by far. The center fielder will be on display Monday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, taking part in the 2011 Home Run Derby on ESPN, the marquee event on Monday for the MLB All-Star Game.
Kemp has really blossomed this season, hitting .313/.398/.584 with 22 home runs and 27 stolen bases. He has been on pace for a 40/40 season for most of the season, though a recent power outage -- no home runs in his last 12 games and 50 plate appearances -- has dropped his home run pace all the way down to 39 bombs for the year. Kemp is the fourth Dodger ever to participate in the Home Run Derby, and the first since Hee Seop Choi in 2005.
Choi (left) was not an All-Star in 2005, but that was the year MLB decided to switch up the format from the contest. As part of the promotion for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Choi was one of eight players from eight different countries selected. He hit five home runs, and didn't make it out of the first round, but it still stands out as the best performance by a Dodger in the event. Mike Piazza hit 59 home runs combined in his first two seasons in the big leagues, in 1993 and a strike-shortened 1994, but he hit all of zero home runs in the derby in both years. Raul Mondesi fared a little better in 1995, but his two clouts weren't enough to advance.
So the bar is set low for Kemp, in terms of Dodgers history in the home run derby. But with his easy swing and flare for the dramatic -- he has two walk-off home runs this season -- the first time All-Star is poised and ready to put on a show in prime time.
The 2011 Home Run Derby starts at 5 p.m. EDT, and will be televised by ESPN. For more information on Matt Kemp and the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.