Headed into the All-Star break, Tony Kemp was struggling at the plate.
Since the second half of the season has started, Kemp has picked it up and put together more productive at bats for the Oakland Athletics.
From July 6th to July 11th Kemp went hitless and the All-Star break could not have come at a better time for the veteran. Coming into July, Kemp had back-to-back impressive months at the plate in May and June.
In both months, he hit .292 and made a significant impact in the Athletics lineup.
He’s recently had some better performances at the plate and that’s the big turnaround he’s needed. Kemp returned from the All-Star break and delivered a four-game hit streak. It seemed as if that break was what Kemp needed to get himself rested for the second half of the season.
He had his best game of the month so far on July 24th against the Seattle Mariners. Our MLBbro went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run scored and a RBI. That was the first time he had a multi-hit game in over a month. He was definitely due for a game like that. He’s way too good a hitter to continue to struggle.
From the end of May to the beginning of June, Kemp went on an eight-game hitting streak.
Throughout June, Kemp continued to have impressive performances at the plate and he wanted that to continue going into July. At the start of July, Kemp could not buy a hit. He only had two hits in 10 games.
On July 3rd, Kemp went hitless against the Boston Red Sox, but he came up in a big way to help his team win the game.
Despite going 0-for-4 at the plate, Kemp hit a sacrifice fly to help the Athletics defeat the Red Sox 7-6.
Despite delivering the walk-off sac fly, Tony Kemp literally beat himself up over his failed bunt attempt in the 10th inning. 😬 pic.twitter.com/bDiHf6A2yG
Kemp was not pleased with his performance that game, but he was glad he helped the team come out with a win.
“That was a relief,” Kemp told reporters after the game. “Leading up to that point in the game, that was, thinking back, I think that was, up to that point, the worst game I’ve played in the big leagues. Just a lot of thinking going on there, like such a long game, sometimes you help your team win, sometimes you help your team lose. Unfortunately, for a long time in that game, I was on the unfortunate end of that.”
Through 79 games he’s hitting .253 with four home runs and 19 RBI.
Sometimes baseball can be a funny game. You can go hitless in a game and still be the hero and that’s exactly what happened to Kemp. That was the one bright spot during his hitless streak before the All-Star break and now that’s all behind him as he looks to continue to make an impact for his team trying to hang in the AL West race, sitting five game sbehind the first place Astros.
There will be times where a player might struggle at the plate for an extended period of time, but they can’t let that affect their game. How they respond to that adversity and make adjustements determines the success they have.
Don’t be surprised if Kemp finishes out July on a positive note and carries that throughout the remainder of the season.
He was one of the greatest baseball players of All-Time and was a key figure during the Civil Rights movement as well. Aaron, who holds the MLB record for All-Star selections with 25, famously broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in April 1974.
His 755 homers stood as the Major League record for 33 years before Barry Bonds became the leader of the club.
47 years ago today, Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run & broke Babe Ruth's all-time record.
The All-Star Game was originally scheduled to be held in Atlanta, home of the Braves and the uniform Aaron donned when becoming the home run champion. But after voter suppression laws were passed in the state of Georgia, Major League Baseball decided to move the game to Denver, Colorado.
Even with the venue change, the initiative to honor the legacy of one of the all-time greats stays the same.
First, the cleats:
Nike along with Ken Griffey Jr. partnered to design the “Air Griffey Metal Hank” cleats. The cleat is exclusively given to each Nike athlete participating in the All-Star Game and honors Aaron’s legacy both on and off the field.
Different elements from each team Aaron played for are used in the design of the cleat:
The Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues red tongue and heel pull tags, the Milwaukee Braves crimson heel swoosh, the Atlanta Braves grey swoosh on the ankle-straps tabs, and mudguard pinstripes, and the Milwaukee Brewers blue and gold eye stay.
Aaron’s motto “Keep Swinging” is on the side of the cleat and his career stats are inside the shoe. His “44” also replaces the normal Griffey “24”.
The sock liner features a “44” bottle cap, which refers to Aaron’s childhood penchant to practice his swing using found objects.
Nike is also pledging $104,000 to the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation’s “4 for 4” programs, providing at least $4,000 per year for four years to students attending historically Black colleges and universities.
Aaron was famously quoted saying “I see these young kids coming along now and they are chasing their dreams. It just so happens that their dreams cost a little bit more than mine did. I am hoping they catch it and they can do the things they want to do in life.”
This season, MLB is doing something a little different with the All-Star jerseys. Instead of players wearing their team’s home and away uniforms, Nike has designed a uniform that will commemorate one of baseball’s highest honors – an All-Star selection.
Players will have stars on the back of their jerseys for each time they have appeared at the game. It will also feature their team logo and a patch that pays respect to the host Colorado Rockies. The National League is considered the home team and will be wearing white while the American League will wear blue.
These uniforms will be worn on Tuesday, July 13 during the game, but Monday Night Baseball will honor Hank Aaron in what is a highly-anticipated Home Run Derby.
After some rough years, MLB may be on the verge of reversing a troubling trend.
When Major League Baseball announced its finalists for the second round of voting, only six Black players made the cut, and five of those came from the American League.
Thats six out of 51.
2B – Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays
OF – Aaron Judge, New York Yankees; Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins; Michael Brantley, Houston Astros; Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
OF – Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
No more than 6 Black American players have made an All-Star game since 2015, with a low of 4 in both ‘16 & ‘19. This season could be different as a new generation of stars is starting to find its way. Check out the MLBbro All-Star update from @DMGrubb on https://t.co/ndikOTIJyDpic.twitter.com/Ivv3JBiHxs
Semien is the only player who is currently the leading vote-getter at his position, while Judge, Buxton, and Brantley sit second through fourth in the AL outfield voting.
That being said, at least four of those six should have their names called when the starting lineups are announced this Thursday night, with those who miss out likely being named as reserves.
Counting position players only, there’s been an average of just over six Black All-Stars per year since the 2011 season.
Things looked great at the start of the decade with nine players making appearances in the the Midsummer Classic.
However, since the retirement of some perennial all-stars like Derek Jeter, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder, the numbers have started to trail off.
There haven’t been more than six Black American players in any All-Star game since 2015, with a low of four in both 2016 and 2019.
This season could be different as a new generation of stars is starting to find its way into the stratosphere.
We’ve seen breakout performances from a number of players who, if they don’t make the team this season, should in the near future.
Semien, Buxton, and Mullins would all be deserving first-time selections.
In an offseason where the Toronto Blue Jays acquired three-time all-star George Springer, it’s been Marcus Semien who has been the most impactful newcomer to the Jays’ lineup.
With Springer limited to 32 at-bats in 2021, Semien has been Toronto’s second-best player all season long. Batting .281 with 18 home runs, 45 RBI, and 37 extra base hits, he ranks first among AL second basemen in hits (87), doubles (18), homeruns (18), RBI (45), and slugging percentage (.519). He’s also second in both runs scored and OPS.
For Buxton, the fan vote will likely have to come through in order for him to be selected. Due to injuries, the Minnesota Twins outfielder has been limited to 27 games.
In those 27 games Buxton has been brilliant.
Over just 103 at-bats, “Buck” has been slashing like Kordell Stewart, putting up a .369/.409/.767 stat line, with 10 home runs. Nelson Cruz leads the Twins with 17, in 131 more ABs. Buxton still remains tied for second on the team with 11 doubles and ranks fifth in total bases.
With Cruz having another outstanding season at the age of 40, Buxton probably won’t get a nod as a reserve, so stuffing the ballot box looks like a must.
Like Buxton, Cedric Mullins has put it all together in 2021, but unlike him, Mullins has been available day-in and day-out for the Baltimore Orioles.
In what has so far been a forgettable 2021 season, Mullins has been one of the lone bright spots for the O’s.
He’s flourished in his role as Baltimore’s leadoff man and has played Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.
His .315 batting average is 50 points higher than his career mark, and he’s posting highs in on-base percentage (.383), slugging (.537), and OPS (.920).
Among AL outfielders, he ranks in the top ten in batting average, runs (43), doubles (21), triples (3), home runs (13), and walks (30), while leading them all with 94 base hits and 14 stolen bases. Throw in the fact that he’s doing it for the offense with the second worst production in the league, and Mullins could be considered an MVP candidate if Baltimore were winning.
If he isn’t in Colorado, we riot.
Other newcomers like Tony Kemp of the Oakland A’s, LaMonte Wade across the bay in San Francisco, Bobby Bradley of the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, Daz Cameron and Akil Baddoo in Detroit, Seattle’s Shed Long Jr. and JP Crawford, Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham in San Diego, and so on, are also coming.