A new feature here at FakeTeams will be a showdown between two players that for whatever odd reason would be fun to pit against one another. Everybody loves a good fight, a test of wills and strengths against one another. It's the competitive nature of man.
Whether its a Celebrity Deathmatch or Megashark versus Crocosaurus, we just want to know if so-and-so is better than whats-his-name? Would Napolean beat Rambo in a fight if Napolean were allowed an AK-47 and Rambo was empty-handed? Could Cheryl Tiegs defeat Bud Bundy in a cage match? Can a centaur beat a Transformer?
These are questions that could rack your brain for centuries and sometimes we will sadly never know the answer. But we can always try and be completely speculative!
The innaugural showdown will be between two brothers in blue. Two men who may forever be linked to one another in Tinseltown history. They're both off to red-hot starts and they are the only reason the Dodgers are 15-15 and not at the bottom of the NL West.
Of course, unless you somehow managed to miss the headline of this article, these guys are Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Ethier gaining attention for his 28-game hitting streak and Matt Kemp off to such a hot start you could only assume he's got his head out of the bedroom and back into the game.
Let's take a look at the competitors:
Andre Everett Ethier, Rightfielder, age 29
The baby-faced outfielder with a smile that could melt your heart, Ethier has strung together back to back hot-as-fire Aprils.
Matthew Ryan Kemp, Centerfielder, age 26
The hot shot double-threat from Oklahoma, Kemp made more headlines off the field than on it last year. Unless those headlines read: "Kemp Stinks" after a rough season.
The battle after the jump...
AE - Drafted by the A's in the 2nd round of the 2003 draft out of Arizona State University. Ethier didn't light it up his first two years in the minors, spending the majority of his first year in A-ball (40 games) he hit 0 home runs and a .272 average. His next year he caught on a little more, hitting .313/.383/.442 for Modesto in High-A. Finally caught full stride in 2005, hitting .317/.384/.492, most of it in AA which earned him the #89 spot on Baseball America's top 100 going into 2006. Ethier was traded from the A's to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley before the 2006 season.
MK - Drafted by the Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2003 draft out of High School, Kemp had a considerably easier transition to the minor leagues. Kemps career line in the minors is .311/.359/.519. He hit 27 HR and stole 23 bases in 109 games for High-A Vero Beach in 2005. That earned him the #96 spot on that same top 100 list. I think in retrospect, considering age and potential 5-tool ability, Kemp could arguably have been higher than Ethier on that same list.
Advantage - Matt Kemp. Both were comparable prospects but I'd give Kemp the edge. Neither has flashed above-average defensive ability. Ethier may draw more walks, but in the minors Kemp even flashed more power ability to go along with the stolen bases that Ethier never had.
Major League Careers
AE - Ethier finished 5th in the ROY voting in 2006 after posting a .308/.365/.477 line with 11 HR and 20 doubles in 126 games. (Good rookie class? Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, Dan Uggla, Josh Johnson, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder joined him in the top 7 of voting.) His power has gradually increased each year and he hit 31 HR and drove in 106 runs with 42 doubles in 2009. He seemed to improve upon that at the beginning of last year when he started the season hitting .392/.457/.744, 11 HR, 38 RBI through 33 games before he got hurt and never regained that same form again in 2010. Ethier is not a stolen bases threat, averaging 4 per season.
MK - Kemp was called up in 2006 where he barely exhausted his rookie eligibility, but he showed great ability for a 21-year-old. (If he didn't exhaust his eligibility, I'm guessing he could have been a top 20 prospect. Maybe top 10.) In 292 at bats the next year he hit .342/.373/.521 with 10 HR and 10 SB. Kemp was on the right track it seemed and over 2008-09 he hit .294/.346/.474, averaging 22 HR, 88 RBI, 34 SB, 95 R, 32 doubles. He also struck out about 3 times as much as he walked. However, in 2010 everything went wrong. Kemp hit .249/.310/.450, and struck out a career high 28% of the time. He did hit a career high 28 HR, but stolen bases dipped to 19. Kemp started out okay, but got worse as the season went along.
Advantage - Matt Kemp. Where in real life Ethier gets a strong advantage in plate discipline and contact ability, in fantasy Kemp pretty much matches him in power while destroying him in stolen bases. They both play outfield, so there is no advantage there. Runs and total bases are also pretty much equal. They also both struggled badly in the 2nd half of 2010.
AE - Ethier has begun to steal the headlines around baseball as we have our latest chase of 56. He's hit in 28 straight games and that has led to a season line of .374/.442/.539, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 15 R. The good news is that he's been consistent and he's seeing the ball well. The bad news is that the power is down (His current .165 ISO is the lowest of his career) and his .444 BABIP is bound to come down as well. Ethier is hitting a lot of line drives, not a lot of flyballs.
MK - Overshadowed by the hitting streak, Kemp is off to a fast start. He's hitting .368/.442/.596 with 6 HR, 19 RBI, 9 SB, 21 R. Kemp has the same .444 BABIP and that will also come down. But he actually has a career high ISO right now of .228.
Advantage - Matt Kemp. All eyes are on Ethier, but Kemp has been the better offensive player thus far. It's closer than it might seem, but in reality Kemp is having the better year. Which is surprising me only because Kemp was one of the worst full-time players in the majors last year (most of it was because of defensive purposes, but the .249 average worried me.)
AE - ZiPS Rest of Season projections are .293/.372/.486 with 17 HR and 70 RBI. He'll come down to earth from the hitting streak, but will his power come back at full strength? Can he be the triple-crown threatening player he was at the beginning of 2010?
MK - ZiPS Rest of Season projections are .282/.341/.475 with 20 HR, 73 RBI and 23 SB. The average is way too high for a Matt Kemp. I believe in the power and the speed, but can he become the regular 30-30 player we envisioned not too long ago?
Advantage - Matt Kemp. Everything is close, closer than you think, but the only real advantage one way or the other is the stolen bases. Though I tend to believe that Kemp has a lower floor than Andre Ethier. There's a chance Kemp hits .220 for a long stretch and I don't see that for Ethier.
So Matt Kemp wins across the board. This may not come as much of a surprise to you as it did to me, but I think it's easy to overlook how evenly matched these two are. Kemp just grabs more steals, but I think Ethier projects out as the more prototypical power hitter. In real life, it would be even closer if Kemp continues to post awful defensive numbers in centerfield and striking out at such a high percentage.
Interesting Note: As of now, both players hit free agency after next season. With the Dodgers current ownership situation in flux, nothing will happen as far as contract extensions go in the near future. Will the McCourt mess ruin any chance of keeping both or either of these players for the long term?