Imagining baseball’s best one-two in Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp
Dream a little. Come on, you can do this. It requires playing the dreaded what-if game, but it’s still the first week of April. Let your fancies turn to all things possible. It’s what new beginnings are for.
So close those little eyes and just imagine: Matt Kemp as the player he was 2011 and the healthy version of Hanley Ramirez from last season.
Playing together, hurting baseballs, hitting balls that precious few others ever have.
“It could be scary, man,” said Kemp.
Balls almost exploded off the bat of Ramirez last season. When he was healthy, he seemed like no other hitter around, unless your memory harks back to Kemp three seasons ago.
Each had a pair of home runs Sunday, and none of the four were of the cheap variety.
“Hanley is on a different level and if Matt is like that, like he was today, you wouldn’t want to face this lineup,” said right-hander Zack Greinke.
History says keeping both healthy is hardly guaranteed, but if it happens and Kemp does return to form, you may not be looking at Ruth-Gehrig but it could the deadliest current one-two punch in baseball.
Ramirez and Kemp not only bring explosive power, but speed. Ramirez has stolen as many as 51 bases in a season, Kemp 40, and both are easily capable of stealing 25 each this season. And with stunning power.
It’s hardly like they’re islands in an otherwise weak lineup, either. They would be surrounded by the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe. That’s the kind of roster befitting the most expensive team in baseball.
“It’s a deep lineup,” Ramirez said. “You know what kind of player (Kemp) is. He can put up some numbers and help this team win.”
One game does not mean Kemp has returned to his ’11 form, but Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said even in the spring you could tell the ball was jumping differently off his bat during batting practice.
It’s the first week of April. So long to go, but such an enticing baseball dream.
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