When the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a salary-motivated trade with the Atlanta Braves during the past offseason, expectation was Matt Kemp would soon after be moved yet again; if not traded, then likely released.
While cutting Kemp would’ve required the Dodgers to assume a significant financial cost for a player no longer on the roster, there didn’t appear to be much opportunity for playing time. He nonetheless reported to Spring Training with the club and was on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster.
Kemp went on to emerge as one of their better hitters, earning All-Star Game honors for the first time since 2012. On Sunday, Kemp celebrated his 34th birthday in grand fashion.
Not only did he slug a home run, but it gave Kemp 1,000 career RBI. He later added a double and two-run single, finishing a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Kemp reflected on reaching the RBI milestone, via SportsNet LA:
“I think it’s pretty cool, man. For me, that’s a lot of RBIs. We were just sitting in there looking up who had the most RBIs. I’m a long ways away; I think I need 1,000 more to get up there with the big dogs but I’ll enjoy this one right now.”
On the season, Kemp is batting .287/.336/.478 with 23 doubles, 21 home runs and 82 RBI. He was hitting above .300 through July but was among the Dodgers’ hitters to endure a skid through much of August.
Kemp nonetheless was part of the team making franchise history this season as his blast gave them seven players to hit at least 20 home runs in a single season. The 2017 Dodgers held the previous record with six such players.
In terms of RBI production this season, Kemp had 17 in May, June and July. Overall, his 126 RBI during a 2011 season that saw him controversially finish as the runner-up to Ryan Braun in National League MVP voting, are a career high.
Of his 1,002 RBI, 730 of them have come during Kemp’s 11 seasons with the Dodgers.