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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
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5) discussing politics
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When Will Kent Go Up in Smoke?
2006-03-07 09:29
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Today is Jeff Kent's 38th birthday. Last season, Kent defied age and a tougher home hitting environment to post better offensive statistics with the Dodgers than he had shown in his previous two seasons with Houston.

YearGH2BHRBBOBPSLGOPSOPS+EQAVORP
2003130150392239.351.509.860118.28645.7
2004145156342749.348.531.879124.28955.2
2005149160362972.377.512.889136.30760.5


Generally speaking, because of the breakdown of the Dodger lineup, more was asked from Kent in 2005, and he delivered. His counting stats mostly improved, and even though his slugging percentage fell from 2004, his overall rate statistics improved once adjusted for park factors. (Kent hammered the ball on the road in 2005, OPSing .939, but also held his own at Dodger Stadium with an .839 OPS.)

Kent's rise in walks and on-base percentage might be explained in part by him being pitched around. But if you buy the theory that he had fewer good pitches to hit, it makes his increase in home runs even more impressive.

Few expected Kent to surpass his 2004 statistics in his first season with the Dodgers. Even fewer should expect him to surpass either his 2004 or 2005 numbers in the coming year. Unless Kent can defy the age odds again – somewhat in the style of his former dance partner, Barry Bonds - others in Los Angeles will have to make up Kent's delayed but inevitable decline.

Sources: ESPN.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball Prospectus

Comments (76)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-03-07 10:07:23
1.   Marty
Unless his first name is really Clark, I expect his production to drop this year.
2006-03-07 10:08:13
2.   Gen3Blue
Just so Jon. Even an average Kent year would be a bonus at this point, but I'm optimistic about this teams ability to pitch in. I'm getting good vibes about health this year, although we know how fast that can change.
2006-03-07 10:11:13
3.   Blue Crew
I too think his numbers will decline (a little). The reason for this is because he will be a year older and recovering from an injury. With that said, I still think he will produce enough to help this team win the West.

BC

2006-03-07 10:26:30
4.   Colorado Blue
"Generally speaking, because of the breakdown of the Dodger lineup, more was asked from Kent in 2006, and he delivered."

Good to know you have the inside scoop on this year Jon ;)

Anyway, I noticed that although he was pitched around some last year, those brave enough to pitch down-and-in sometimes paid the price. Kent is a terrific low ball hitter.

2006-03-07 10:31:59
5.   GIDP
Beltre pops out in the WBC.
2006-03-07 10:34:47
6.   ToyCannon
This is why I'm going to enjoy the WBC. I don't know how you can be a baseball fan and not enjoy today's game between DR/Ven. Big Pappi taking Santana deep. What were the Twinkies thinking, the difference between several WS appearances and always going out in the 1st round. One of the greatest colossal GM mistakes in my lifetime. Hyperbole lives:)
2006-03-07 10:35:26
7.   ToyCannon
5
Against the best pitcher in baseball.
2006-03-07 10:37:34
8.   bhsportsguy
2 run single for Jason Repko.

Jim Tracy must have been a media darling, only in the sense that no matter who you listen or read (today its the STL radio team), they talk about how he should not have been let go.

I am sure he is fine man and he even now, he does not and will not say anything negative about DePo (the McCourts are probably another matter) and maybe no one will ever say a manager should have been let go.

2006-03-07 10:42:24
9.   D4P
8
STL's play-by-play guy hurts my ears.
2006-03-07 10:42:54
10.   Steve
Is the WBC on the radio locally (that would be the greater Los Angeles area, minus Ontario, which is surrounded by a gigantic bubble that blocks radio waves)?
2006-03-07 10:44:29
11.   Jon Weisman
10 - Not according to this morning's listings.
2006-03-07 10:44:50
12.   D4P
9
Check that: maybe it's the color guy that's painful to listen to.
2006-03-07 10:45:23
13.   dzzrtRatt
If the Boston Red Sox can be cheered by the media for firing Grady Little even though he took his team deep into the playoffs, then I don't get how Jim Tracy, with a record that embodies the concept "mediocrity," gets the media love he gets. Tracy's obviously a media suck-up the likes of which we haven't seen among managers since...? Actually I can't think of any managers who were media darlings who didn't win at least one World Series.
2006-03-07 10:45:28
14.   Steve
I'm going to buy stock in satellite radio.
2006-03-07 10:45:57
15.   natepurcell
loney has been an absolute doubles machine this spring. every ball has been hit hard and in the air. please james, dont let this be a tease!
2006-03-07 10:48:54
16.   blue22
OT - In the words of the not-so-immortal former wide receiver Roy Green, when asked if he'd lost a step - "Yeah, but I had a step to lose."

Not necessarily something to hope for, but a less productive Kent should still be top-5 at his position.

2006-03-07 10:49:06
17.   Steve
I hope Loney makes us forget the Choi debate, particularly because it frightens me to think of what Nomar will get paid after even a Klesko-ish year.
2006-03-07 10:52:32
18.   dzzrtRatt
My father smoked Kents for many years. About three packs a day of those things went "up in smoke" around my house. They actually used to advertise that the famous Kent "micronite filter" was "developed by researchers in atomic energy plants."
2006-03-07 10:54:33
19.   Marty
When I smoked, back in the 70's, I tried Kents for a while. My family were basically all Winston smokers back then.
2006-03-07 10:56:09
20.   dzzrtRatt
17 The LA Times has forgotten the Choi debate entirely. He's not even mentioned as one of the team's infielders in today's Martinez v. Robles story. Kent, Furcal, Mueller, Garciaparra, Saenz, either Martinez or Robles, and eventually Izturis. That's the infield, according to the article.
2006-03-07 10:57:13
21.   Steve
I've forgotten the Choi debate. Loney or bust -- I hope it's not bust.
2006-03-07 10:57:28
22.   bhsportsguy
15 - I think this has been Loney's pattern, his doubles have outnumbered his HRs by just over a 3-1 ratio. Will those doubles become home runs? That is the question.
2006-03-07 10:57:53
23.   natepurcell
for a second there, i thought harold and kruk were talking about choi... but then they said ortiz.
2006-03-07 10:59:20
24.   natepurcell
well if loney can hit 45:15 doubles homerun ratio, i wouldnt mind :)
2006-03-07 11:00:13
25.   Steve
93.1 FM is playing "Nobody Walks in LA" -- which is not very good -- but is very amusing in context
2006-03-07 11:03:40
26.   blue horseshoe
I'm just waiting for Weisman to pop up as a credited author in the cnnsi.com headline story...
2006-03-07 11:09:25
27.   Colorado Blue
21 - thinkingblue has worn you down...
2006-03-07 11:09:54
28.   D4P
26
What is the probability that everything in that story is completely fabricated? It doesn't seem very high...
2006-03-07 11:10:38
29.   Jon Weisman
I don't think the conventional wisdom puts Choi on the Dodger Opening Day roster if Garciaparra looks healthy. About the only thing besides an injury that could save Choi at this point, I think, is Ramon Martinez beating out Oscar Robles and Joel Guzman failing to make the team. That would leave Ricky Ledee as the only other left-handed hitter on the bench.

But if the bench has Ledee, Robles and Jose Cruz, Jr., Choi won't be on it.

2006-03-07 11:11:37
30.   Jon Weisman
26 and 28 - Not bloody likely.
2006-03-07 11:16:18
31.   GIDP
Beltre singles off the 3rd best pitcher in baseball (according to Sagarin) .
2006-03-07 11:17:45
32.   D4P
Does STL's 2-man announcing team alternate play-by-play and color-man duties every inning?
2006-03-07 11:18:18
33.   Colorado Blue
I knew we should have resigned Beltre... see?
2006-03-07 11:18:33
34.   Steve
One has to deal with reality as one finds it, rather than how he hopes it will be, lest one become the ex-manager of the Dodgers.
2006-03-07 11:26:55
35.   Colorado Blue
One has to deal with reality as he hopes it will be, rather than deal with it as it is, lest one become the ex-GM of the Dodgers.
2006-03-07 11:28:02
36.   ToyCannon
Santana followed by Carlos Zambrano. Yikes
2006-03-07 11:29:45
37.   Steve
Absolutely.
2006-03-07 11:31:07
38.   underdog
The thing about Kent is that he'll have a little less pressure on him to carry the load entirely on his shoulders (or wrists?) this year; with all the injuries and erratic-ness last year he was a one-man band. I really don't see that this year, except of course, he's still one of their primary sources of power. However, there are other really consistently solid hitters on the roster this year which will put less of a load on him. So he may experience a bit of a drop off, but the team will be on the upswing (is my prediction). Again, injuries willing of course...
2006-03-07 11:34:48
39.   Sushirabbit
I predict Bonds will test positive for banned substances before Kent's numbers fall dramatically.
2006-03-07 11:45:08
40.   bhsportsguy
I have to say it is really cool listening to these games and hearing the exploits of Guzman, LaRoche, Abreau, Loney, Ethier, Martin, and Kemp. I am going to put a lot of faith in Grady's background in Atlanta, where they generally have gone with the theory of replacing a player a year too soon than too late and hope that if the players he had identified (Guzman, Chad, Broxton) produce during the spring, they will be either on the club or first to be called up.

I am going to bring up again a DT road trip to Vegas to see these prospects, I think it is must this year.

2006-03-07 11:48:57
41.   GIDP
Beltre up with runners at the corners against a wild Zambrano.
2006-03-07 11:49:55
42.   GIDP
Beltre with a 3-run homer!
2006-03-07 11:50:18
43.   ToyCannon
Bada Bing Beltre
2006-03-07 11:51:21
44.   ToyCannon
40
Agreed, plan on making several trips. Want to catch the series when Salt Lake comes to town.
2006-03-07 11:51:35
45.   GIDP
Terrible pitch by Zambrano. Breaking ball broke right in the heart of the strike zone.
2006-03-07 11:53:17
46.   Uncle Miltie
Beltre's swing looked like it did in 2004. I think he'll have a nice comeback year.

As for Kent, he's not going to be very good this year. No more than 20 home runs .260-.270 BA.

2006-03-07 11:57:43
47.   GIDP
Kent hasn't hit lower than .289 since 1997, and no less than 22 HR since '96.
2006-03-07 12:08:39
48.   bhsportsguy
44 - Memorial Day Weekend 4 game set against Salt Lake City. That will be their last visit to Vegas, they play them during the first week of the season.
2006-03-07 12:17:31
49.   ToyCannon
47
He hasn't been 38 before either:)
2006-03-07 12:24:15
50.   GIDP
Vintage Beltre (down and away K).
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-03-07 12:29:39
51.   underdog
Didn't see mention of this here earlier: You can chat* with Derek Lowe on Dodgers.com today (Tuesday 3/7) at 2pm!

http://tinyurl.com/esda7

*Disclaimers: questions will be screened intensely; no guarantee it will be answered; users asking Mr. Lowe about his relationship with a certain former TV reporter will be ejected; etc.

2006-03-07 12:34:37
52.   Jon Weisman
Florida 21, Washington 1, bottom of the sixth inning.
2006-03-07 12:37:08
53.   Jon Weisman
Dodgers win, 3-1.
2006-03-07 12:38:41
54.   D4P
52
How did Washington kick an extra point without scoring a touchdown first?
2006-03-07 12:39:59
55.   tjshere
I think it's a good idea not to expect as much from Kent as he contributed last season, but some of the inevitable decline might be made up for by him seeing more good pitches to hit. A chunk of Kent's numbers may well be determined by Nomah's success - or lack thereof - in the #5 hole. I really think Nomah could be the guy to make or break this team.
2006-03-07 12:40:29
56.   Jon Weisman
54 - Maybe they got a rouge?
2006-03-07 12:48:31
57.   Bob Timmermann
56
When I went to a CFL game this summer, the guy who walked through the stands doing promotions asked a fan this trivia question?

"How many points for a rogue?" And that's not a typo on my part. He said "rogue".

The game I went to had none of them. And they are more frequently called "singles"/

2006-03-07 12:52:30
58.   Jon Weisman
57 - Are you saying this was the equivalent of Jim Gott or A Martinez asking the following Coca Cola trivia question, "How many runs on a grand slum?"
2006-03-07 12:56:00
59.   Bob Timmermann
58
Precisely.

The fan got the question right and won whatever sort of Toronto Argonauts stuff they were giving out.

It was Multicultural Day too. I learned that in Canada each province has a Minister of Immigration.

2006-03-07 13:03:01
60.   Marty
What on earth is a rouge??
2006-03-07 13:11:28
61.   GIDP
2-run homer by Beltre!
2006-03-07 13:12:48
62.   Giant Hater
What ever happened to counting on a guy TILL he drops off??? Kent has been consistent his entire career...until he falls flat on his face I think it is absurd to predetermine a player based soley on his age. How do you explain Roger Clemens last year? By all age accounts that man should have quit pitching years ago. Yes, Clemens is entirely different...he's a pitcher who is also one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen. But i would make the arguement Kent is also one of the best 2nd basemen ever to play the game. What aout Mariano Rivera? The man is only about 1 1/2 years younger than Kent and had an outstanding season last year. Should his numbers be expected to decline this season or is he still one of the best closers in the game?

It is easy to predict a player such as Kent to fall off his game. Let the man fail first or until Kent retires we are going to hear the same thing year after year...."This is the season Kent's numbers should decline...after all he 57 years old!"

2006-03-07 13:13:25
63.   ToyCannon
Bada Bing Beltre
2006-03-07 13:15:55
64.   Bob Timmermann
60
In Canadian football, any punt or missed field goal that is not returned out of the end zone gives the kicking team credit for one point. The offense then takes over at the 35.

The end zones are 25 yards deep so it's not all that easy.

2006-03-07 13:19:04
65.   Jon Weisman
http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/5379592

Sportswriter Ian O'Connor once asked an Australian to name the famous Yankee once married to Marilyn Monroe. The person replied, "Y.A. Tittle?"

Who knows about Y.A. Tittle but doesn't know about Joe DiMaggio?

2006-03-07 13:22:01
66.   Bob Timmermann
65
Especially at a time when the NFL was about 1/10 as popular as MLB.
2006-03-07 13:29:37
67.   Giant Hater
He was absolutely "titillated" with Y.A. Tittle...Ya I know that bad...
2006-03-07 13:32:14
68.   Jon Weisman
62 -

1) There's a difference between saying someone will decline and saying he will fail.

2) "Clemens is entirely different." "It is easy to predict a player such as Kent to fall off his game." This backs the argument that as a player gets older, he is more likely to decline. To do otherwise is simply unusual. (Obviously, there are no guarantees - that's why we play the game.)

3) You also bring up Rivera, asking "Should his numbers be expected to decline this season or is he still one of the best closers in the game?"

His numbers can decline and he can still be one of the best closers in the game.

4) Kent has already suffered a dropoff - from 2002 to 2003 for example. So it's not exactly radical to suggest it might happen again.

You're welcome to predict Kent will maintain his 2005 performance until he's 57 years old. But it would be a surprise, and I don't really see what's wrong with acknowledging that.

2006-03-07 13:39:33
69.   Uncle Miltie
Rick Sutcliffe just said he saw Dodgers and Giants players getting along yesterday. I know Randy Winn is on the US roster, but I don't think there are any Dodgers. Is Sutcliffe lying? Maybe there is a former Dodger on the roster?
2006-03-07 13:42:33
70.   Uncle Miltie
Why is Chase Utley batting 9th? I guess Buck Martinez doesn't want to manage in the majors again.
2006-03-07 13:51:25
71.   Bob Timmermann
Not only does Team USA have no Dodgers, it also no players who have ever played for the Dodgers.

However Odalis Perez, Moises Alou and Pedro Feliz are all on the Dominican Republic roster.

2006-03-07 14:00:49
72.   Uncle Miltie
The Domincan game was in Florida, how could Sutcliffe see those guys getting along when he's in Arizona?
2006-03-07 14:02:49
73.   GIDP
Team Mexico maybe? Karim Garcia, Elmer Dessens, Fernando.
2006-03-07 14:11:32
74.   Bob Timmermann
Describing Karim Garcia or Elmer Dessens primarily as Dodgers is quite a stretch.
2006-03-07 14:19:10
75.   Marty
I always think of Karim Garcia as primarily a Dodger. Probably because he was one of those kids touted so much.
2006-03-07 15:06:11
76.   Giant Hater
68-

That is true. The possibility does indeed exist and grows as he ages but I'd rather wait for it to happen than expect a serious decline. Hell it might happen. Who knows. I think the idea of Kent playing until he is 57 is actually quite funny. Eh, i'd take a 57 year old Kent than Jose Valentine of last year.

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