We’ve all heard and/or read of Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Matt Kemp‘s desire to return to playing center field. Kemp has not started a game in center since May 22nd. As of late (his last 8 starts), he’s been manning right field. To say he’s been productive during this recent small stretch would be an extreme understatement.
Prior to last night’s game and over the previous seven as the starting right fielder, Kemp has produced a slashline of .462/.548/.808 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI. Last night, Kemp continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-4 (one hit being a home run), scoring a pair, and providing a walk-off single to give the Dodgers a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Atlanta Braves.
This is doing nothing but keeping his name bandied about in trade rumors.
It goes beyond these eight games though. Some of the numbers may not seem overly impressive (in particular, the slugging percentage), but there’s no question that Kemp might slowly be regaining some of that 2011 form.
I mentioned the date of his last start in center. On that date, his slashline was .265/.329/.456, adding only 5 home runs and 13 RBI in 161 plate appearances. That covers 41 games, and his team sported a 21-20 record in those games. Since then, it’s been a bit different. Not exactly the Matt Kemp from a couple of years ago.
Not including last night’s game, the slashline since being removed from center is .295/.361/.451 with 5 HR and 31 RBI in 216 PA. In those 55 games, the Dodgers are 31-24. He’s started 51 of those.
Kemp’s July numbers: .311/.400/.432 with a pair of homers and 13 RBI. Again, this does not include last night’s line. We can see that Kemp is not only hitting better, but also getting on base at a higher clip. The power isn’t what we once saw, but I believe it could still return at some point this season. Maybe the shoulder and ankle issues are slowly evaporating.
Yes, there are other pieces adding to the Dodgers success, don’t get me wrong. Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe has also had an impressive month of July. Clayton Kershaw has been masterful since, well, pretty much the entire season. Just keep him away from Chase Field. His June was simply scintillating (6-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.682 WHIP, 4 BB, 61 SO in 44 IP) and his July (3-0, 1.09 ERA, 0.545 WHIP, 4 BB, 34 SO in 33 IP) is also impressive.
If the Dodgers decide to retain Kemp, that could stand to be the best non-move of this trade deadline “season”. He’ll be exposed to waivers if he’s not dealt by 4 PM today. A contending team that has the ability to take on at least a portion of his remaining salary is likely to put in a claim. Then the dealing could begin provided the Dodgers don’t pull him back.
Or the Dodgers could elect to keep The Bison for at least the remainder of this season and utilize his services to hopefully bring a World Series championship to LA.