I have missed this Kemp
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
There’s quite an argument to be made that Matt Kemp is the second best hitter in the Dodger organization. Now that’s a huge statement, but really, Hanley’s been struggling lately, Adrian Gonzalez has gone from “completely putrid” to “merely tolerable” as a #3/#4 hitter, Kemp is a better than anyone not named Yasiel Puig on the big league squad, so it shouldn’t come to much surprise when we hear that Kemp won the player of the week award because oh my goodness look at this.
That’s a 10.7% walk rate, a 14.3 K%, 5 Dingers, a 1.540 OPS this past week, and for good measure, this hot streak started in San Francisco which is never a negative.
For the first time since the Spring of 2012, we are seeing what Matt Kemp can really do when he’s (relatively) healthy and it’s time to appreciate it. Defensive Metrics be damned, he’s been worth close to one Win Above Replacement this month alone, and lets take his offense as a whole this season, and compare it to the rest of the league.
Matt Kemp has a higher weighted On Base Average (which takes all of the components of hitting, and normalizes it into a stat that measures players versus one another) than the following players:
Those are some big names up there, and yet Kemp is outproducing them throughout the entire season, with all of the bumps along the way, Matt Kemp is performing like a top 20 offensive talent in the NL. And depending on whether you like defensive metrics at all, that means that Kemp has a chance to be worth that massive contract extension he was given, which, all the better considering the massive amounts of criticism he’s taken from everywhere, not playing up to his talent level, not being worth his contract, lazy, bad defender, yadda yadda yadda.
This also raises questions because if he continues to play like this what will become of the Crawford/Ethier/Joc situation in the other open outfield slot in the offseason, but that’s a question for another time, the fact of the matter is Matt Kemp, despite not being in tip top shape in over 2 years due to shoulder and ankle woes, despite not having a full offseason to implement his rigorous training regimen to prepare his body to withstand a season as opposed to rushing his body to hopefully, maybe starting a season, despite having the shoulder surgery that sapped the power right out of Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez initially, despite having to deal with as many trade rumors as any Dodger player I can ever remember.
Despite all this, we are sitting here in the beginning of August and thinking “boy partly because of Matt Kemp’s offense, the Dodgers have been able to withstand multiple Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, and Chris Perez outings”. I hope we can appreciate this outburst as hopefully the return of the MVP caliber player we’ve been missing. Matt Kemp is a special talent, and I sure am glad he’s a Dodger post July-31st, and I hope he’s a Dodger through October 2019.