Sunday, August 07, 2011

Steve Kemp

Steve Kemp was born on this date in 1954 and is now 57 years old. Kemp was a former #1 overall pick from the January phase where only players who have concluded their college career in the winter are available. The Tigers chief scout Bill Lajoie described Kemp:
"Steve Kemp is a loose hitting, long ball hitter and is the best of the talent available for this January draft. I saw him on the road seven or eight times and was quite impressed."
Kemp jumped to the Majors after one full season in the minors where he jumped from AA to AAA and batted .386 for the Tigers AAA affiliate in Evansville. This earned Kemp the opportunity to make the Tigers roster out of spring training in 1977 and he did just that.

Despite a solid rookie season .257/.343/.422 18hr 88rbi, Kemp didn't garner a single Rookie of the Year vote, losing out to Eddie Murray of Baltimore. He would spend 5 years in Detroit, putting up good to great numbers in every season, his best being 1979 when he was named to the AL all-star team and finished 17th in MVP voting. His 26 homers and 105 rbis were coupled with a .318 batting average and a 941 OPS. Kemp missed about a month of action in 1979 as well. Kemp was a patient hitter with power and an ability to put the ball in play.

Kemp was decribed by Lajoie as a "little shy with his throwing arm" and so this was likely why he played left field for most of his career. Kemp was sent to the White Sox in 1982 for Chet Lemon and he put up excellent numbers again (19hr, 98rbi) but it would be his last productive season. He signed as a free agent by the Yankees in December of 1982 but he wasn't as effective and would be sent to Pittsburgh in December of 1984 and he spent two years trying to regain his stroke. He actually spent the entire 1987 season in Oklahoma City, the Rangers AAA affiliate before getting one last kick at the can in 1988. He retired in July of 1988 for the rest of the season but it would turn out to be the end of his career.

Since his retirement in 1988, I have not been able to find any record of his involvement in baseball.

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