If there was a Major League Baseball sitcom of the term…” Life comes at you fast!”, MLBbro Trayce Thompson would have the starring role, be the director and be on all of the billboards.
At the beginning of his second stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tinseltown producers would call this comeback story, box-office gold. While his famous brother Klay was dropping three-point bombs in NBA arenas around the country…
Trayce was toiling away in the minors to make good. His chance to shine on a consistent basis finally came last year when the Dodgers brought him in after a deal with the Detroit Tigers as a stop-gap option for the injured Mookie Betts.
Instead of being a mere fill-in, Trayce took off and became a vital piece to the team’s turnaround from a 17-game stretch with a below .500 record to dominating the NL West.
Trayce Started With A Bang: Then Things Went Sour
This season, Trayce Thompson went from a Dodgers darling with a three-homer masterpiece on opening night, to getting traded last Friday night to the Chicago White Sox in a deal that included minor league pitchers, Eddys Leonard and Justin Bruihl. In return they received pitchers Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn.
Through May 22nd, Thompson had a hitless streak through 38 at bats which was tied for the longest streak by a non-pitcher in Dodgers history.
His batting average was .109, the second worst mark in baseball among hitters with at least 70 plate appearances.
With a strikeout percentage of 43.6 percent of his trips to the plate, Trayce had the highest rate in the National League at the time.
Against lefties, Thompson had only two hits in 36 plate appearances.
Thompson’s struggles contributed to the team’s overall struggles against left-handed pitching. The Dodgers ranked at the time 20th in OPS (.729) and last in batting average (.205).
All told before landing on the 60-day injured list with a strained left oblique, Thompson ended his hitless stretch at 39 which was the longest by a Dodger in over 100 years. After opening night, he only had eight hits total in 67 appearances at the plate. In the minors however, it did look like our MLBbro had started to get a bit of a rhythm with four doubles and a home run in the last two games for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Thompson goes back to the team that originally drafted him back in 2009. With the White Sox, our MLBbro had a hitting slash of .206/.265/.375 with eight homers and 25 RBI in 92 games.
Since then, with the Dodgers (twice), Athletics, Cubs, Padres, Thompson has a career batting average of .216 with 44 homers, 123 RBI and a 98 OPS + (Combined on base percentage and slugging) in 333 MLB games.
MLBbro.com is widely considered as the major leagues of Black and Brown baseball news coverage and analysis. Everything is covered from the best of times for our MLBbros to the worst. Sadly, on this occasion, there are two MLBbros that are currently going through the worst of times with horrible batting slumps.
Tony Kemp of the Oakland A’s and Trayce Thompson of the Los Angeles Dodgers both have an extended number of plate appearances without hits and one of them even has a unique twist to his struggle.
The peculiar thing about this MLBbro’s slump is that it shouldn’t come to a surprise to Tony or the Oakland A’s because… it was the same way last year! After starting the season in a massive slump, Kemp made some adjustments and finished out the season strong.
Just take a look at the comparisons.
First half stats:
Kemp started with a.203/.282./.264 hitting slash with only two homers and 14 RBI in 85 first-half games.
Second half stats:
Kemp improved his hitting slash to .278/.342/.426 with five homers and 32 RBI in his final 62 games played to finish out the season.
These slashes are comparable to his career-high numbers of .279/.382/.418 over 131 games in 2021.
How Did Tony Kemp Work Out Of Past Slumps?
Our MLBbro’s rise in production was connected to self-reflection and an overhaul of his routine during last year’s All-Star break as he started using video study of his swing.
“Everything in the cage, I completely threw out the window,” Kemp said.
“When I was striding, I could get off my back side and my hands would fire down into the hitting zone, which I wanted,” our MLBbro said. “ I started to create that backspin, do things I really wanted to do. I was able to really focus on working on the top part of the baseball. I’m not going to say I had a hard time with four seamers, but I had a better opportunity to succeed with how I was working.”
Fast forward to this year, Tony Kemp’s inability to get on base at times from the leadoff spot is at a historical low, particularly in day games.
Among qualified hitters, Tony Kemp’s 0-for-41 streak in day games is the longest such hitless streak to begin a season since 1906. Darwin Barney (2013) and Ray Mack (1943) began 0-for-25.
Tony Kemp set a record for futility to start a season by going hitless in 41 at bats during day games. At least, he’s taking it all in stride and hasn’t lost his confidence. Because with his benching over the past weekend and the likelihood that he’ll lose his starting position, he’s going to need it.
The A’s have a trio of young players threatening to supplant Kemp; Andrew Hearney, Aledmys Diaz just came off the DL and rookie Jordan Diaz continues to improve. Kemp could be the odd man out.
For now, we hope this is just a terrible stretch and in the season’s second half or sooner, Kemp can recreate the magic from his video study and make some more adjustments.
Our MLBbro has become the poster boy illustrating the saying… ”Relax and enjoy the moment.”
In Trayce’s first game of the season, he got the Dodgers fan base rocking when he crushed a grand slam in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Was he finished? Not by a long shot and I mean a LONG shot!
In the fifth inning, our MLBbro deposited a three-run shot into the left field seats to put the game away for an opening night win. But Thompson, whose brother Klay is known for splashing threes for the Golden State Warriors, had a three-pointer of his own…
Where Did Trayce Thompson’s Production Go Since Three-Homer Game?
After this magical opening night, Trayce Thompson’s production has virtually evaporated at the plate and hasn’t had a hit since April 17th.
Here’s Thompson’s Struggles By The Numbers
Trayce has only hit one homer since opening night.
Through May 22nd, Thompson has a hitless streak through 38 at bats which is tied for the longest streak by a non-pitcher in Dodgers history.
His batting average is .109. It’s the second worst mark in baseball among hitters with at least 70 plate appearances.
With a strikeout percentage of 43.6 percent of his trips to the plate, our MLBbro has the highest rate in the National League.
Against lefties, Thompson has only two hits in 36 plate appearances.
Thompson’s struggles contribute to the team’s overall struggles against left-handed pitching. The Dodgers rank 20th in OPS (.729) and last in batting average (.205).
His struggles are not from the lack of hard work. His mental toughness will keep him from falling into the pitfalls that gave the Dodgers no choice but to release him years ago.
“I’ve learned what not to do,” he told The LA Times. “In 2018, 17, I feel that I let circumstances get to me, as opposed to looking in the mirror and being like, ’What can I do to get better for myself and the team?’ ”
“You’re gonna have stretches where you’re not good,” he added. “Everyone goes through it. But you’ve got to prepare each day like it’s a new day, be optimistic. Have that perspective of, ‘I’m due,’ as opposed to woe is me.”
The good news for these MLBbros is the baseball season is long and there is time to turn things around. The bad news is time might be running out and these slumps could lead them to be designated for assignment.