The Dodgers may not have many all-stars this season due to their high profile injuries, but they could have an all-star that nobody would’ve predicted before the season; Matt Kemp.
This season has been a surprising resurgence for Matt Kemp. Kemp homered and drove in five runs in the Dodgers Wednesday night loss and currently has nine home runs, a .344 average, and an impressive .942 OPS. For comparison’s sake, in 2011 when Kemp should have won the NL MVP award, he swatted 39 home runs with a .324 average, and a stellar .986 OPS. While Kemp is not going to push for forty home runs he is capable of keeping a high average and OPS.
During his MVP push in 2011, Matt Kemp had a WRC+ of 168. This season Kemp is not far behind with a WRC+ of 158. The biggest difference between 2011 and now is that Kemp is no longer a base stealing threat and he will not hit thirty plus home runs. Kemp does seem to be able to hit for a better batting average though.
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One of the more surprising aspects of Matt Kemp’s season has been his .344 batting average. Kemp is a career .287 hitter has hit below .280 in his previous two seasons. Last year it was Justin Turner who pushed for the National League batting title and was hitting .377 at the all-star break. This season it is Matt Kemp who has an outside chance at winning the batting title. The highest batting average in Dodger franchise history was Mike Piazza’s .362 batting average in 1998. While it’s unlikely Kemp will be in the running for the batting title later this season, it’s fun to keep track of while he is raking.
Perhaps the most unexpected breakout for Matt Kemp has been his outfield defense. All winter long it was talked about how Kemp was horrible in left field and he was better off being traded to the American League where he could DH. This season Matt Kemp has actually graded out as an average outfielder. Between innings in left and right field, Kemp has a 0 DRS this season which means he is an average fielder. Kemp’s UZR and UZR/150 rating this season is 0.1 and 0.6. Compare that to last season where Kemp’s ratings were -9.2 and -14.1. While Matt Kemp is not going to win a gold glove, it’s clear he has made strides in the outfield this season and is now rated as an average defensive outfielder.
There is no telling who will make the National League all-star roster from the Dodgers, but the most logical candidate to make it is Matt Kemp. Make sure to vote early and often so that Matt Kemp can finally earn some of the recognition back that he deserves. Who knows how long this resurgence will last but in the meantime, the Dodgers will hope to ride Kemp’s offensive surge all the way to first place. You can vote for Matt Kemp here.