Kemp is a tough nut to crack. He’s often stand-offish with the press and is the brunt of criticism, sometimes undeservedly, but he is who he is and he’s a fantastic baseball player.
So when I tried to talk to him about home runs and fastballs, he didn’t give me a whole lot, but he gave me a few things.
Without further ado:
Matt Kemp: I can’t count how many times someone’s thrown me a fastball and I hit a home run or swung through it.
Dingers: Say you got a good pitch and you know it’s coming and you put a good swing, what is it that leads to the home run?
Matt Kemp: Just putting a good swing on a good pitch. I don’t call home runs, I don’t know when I’m gonna hit a home run. It’s just when everything’s together; my body’s together; my hands are together. When I make a good swing, it’s most likely gonna be a base hit or a home run. I’ve never called a home run.
D: When you go up to the plate then, is your mind completely clear? Are you not thinking about the upcoming pitch?
Kemp: That’s not really good to go up there [thinking]. Let your reactions take over. Sometimes you might sit on a pitch and you get that pitch. I try not to go up there thinking about what’s going on, I try to see the ball and hit the ball.
D: Is it easier to hit a 100 mile-per-hour fastball over a 90 or 95 mph fastball?
Kemp: No chance. [pause] Well, it depends. Was the 95 sinking or cutting? If the fastball’s 100 mph straight, [then no]. It’s harder to hit something that’s moving than something that’s moving.
D: What’s the toughest fastball you’ve faced this year?
Kemp: I got no idea.
D: C’mon, name anyone.
D: Tim Lincecum?
D: Josh Johnson?
Kemp: [pause] There’s some guys. There’s a couple guys that are tough to hit.
D: Moving to change-ups, what makes change-ups more effective from your batter’s eye, the juxtaposition to the fastball or the movement?
Kemp: Definitely if it looks like a fastball. Almost all change-ups look like fastballs from the pitcher to the mitt.