Dodgers: Matt Kemp has Earned the Right to Start in Left Field
The Dodgers have not yet announced what their opening day lineup will be, but it’s starting to become an expectation that Kemp will start in left field.
Admittedly when the Dodgers first acquired Matt Kemp this offseason, the younger Dodger fan in me was absolutely thrilled. Then reports started to come out that the Dodgers would likely trade or release Kemp and reality set it. Matt Kemp is no spring chicken, and defensively he is going to hurt the Dodgers where someone like Andrew Toles would bolster the outfield defense.
Even with his shaky outfield defense, Matt Kemp is proving that he still has plenty of life left in his bat. This spring all Kemp has done is hit .333 with four home runs. His home runs have not been cheap ones either, Kemp is driving the ball very well. While he probably isn’t going to be a threat to hit forty home runs like he was in his first Dodger stint, Kemp is still capable of hitting 20-25 home runs.
The Dodgers realize that Matt Kemp can no longer play every day if they want him to stay healthy, but Kemp can still make four to five starts a week and be a middle of the order bat. With Andrew Toles, Kiké Hernandez, and Joc Pederson in the left field mix, the Dodgers can control the number of games that Matt Kemp starts and make sure he remains fresh and primed to be a run producer when he is in the lineup.
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Matt Kemp will most likely be used in a platoon but that is only to keep him from being run into the ground. Kemp has shown the ability to hit left and right-handed pitching in his career. While Kemp has a career .319/.380/.542 line against southpaws, his .274/.324/.470 line against right-handed pitchers shows that Kemp can have success no matter who is on the mound. The Dodgers improved against southpaw pitching last year and they could have even more success against lefties in 2018 if Matt Kemp can stick to his career averages.
While the Dodgers tried to build trade value this winter to deal away Kemp, the best option now is for the Dodgers to start him. Not only has Matt Kemp earned the starting left field job this spring, but he is being paid over twenty million a season this year and next, so the Dodgers would be wise to try and get some use out of that money they are paying out. Even if their defense takes a bit of a hit, it will be worth the small hit if Kemp generates power in the middle of the Dodgers lineup.
Although it felt like releasing or trading Matt Kemp was the best option for the Dodgers after he was acquired, the tide has turned. Kemp has bought into the Dodgers team first mantra in the locker room and is not causing any problems with the club’s younger players.
Next: Will switch pitcher Pat Venditte make the Dodgers roster?
Not only does Kemp appear much slimmer than last season, he is displaying the kind of power that once made him an MVP candidate (Which he should have won but Braun cheated). Bring out the old Kemp jerseys that have been buried for years because Beast Mode is back and ready to start in left field this season.