Matt Kemp had a career 2011 season (.324 BA, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB) despite a disappointing 82-79 record for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, his outstanding play on the field didn’t go unnoticed, as Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter has nominated the Gold Glove center fielder for their “Sportsman of the Year” award:
According to Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement metric, Kemp completed the best season for any player, of any ilk, since Barry Bonds in 2004. His statistics alone should make him a strong contender to be named SI’s Sportsman of the Year. But the circumstances in which Kemp produced his historic season — the unrelenting way in which he brought pride to a legendary franchise that had been all but strip-mined of the stuff — should make him the award winner.
Sports Illustrated will announce its winner on Dec. 6. If Kemp is selected, he would be the third Dodger to win the honor, joining Sandy Koufax (1965) and Orel Hershiser (1988).