Resurgent Matt Kemp

I haven’t written about my old buddy in a while and with good reason. Earlier this season Matt was having one of those weird seasons that made stat folk look up to see who else had done this.

and not in a good way

In Matt Kemp’s first 64 games of 2016 he had managed to acquire only 4 walks in 270 plate appearances.  His batting average was .253, his OBP was just a tad better at .259. Matt was selling out patience for power but no one wanted Tony Bautista.  Kemp was on a pace to walk fewer than 20 times for the complete season. The last player to walk less than 20 times and hit over 30 home runs was Andres Gallaraga in 1994. Until Odor did it this year for the Rangers.

Luckily he was traded to the Braves and rediscovered his patience walking 20 times in his last 240 plate appearances to post a respectable .336 OBP with the Braves.  His wRC+ at 134 was the 3rd best for a LF in the NL in the 2nd half. Just 3 points behind Ryan Braun who Dustin Nosler wants to trade 1/5 the team for.

To MIL: Jose De LeonScott Kazmir (+$8.3 million in 2017, $7M in 2018), Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig, Alex Verdugo
To LA: Ryan Braun

Kemp isn’t Ryan Braun, but the only thing against Kemp was his initial refusal to play LF in 2014 when for some reason he thought he was still a center fielder. Unlike Braun he doesn’t have the stigma of PED use, and throwing people under the bus to protect himself who were just doing their jobs .

Isn’t it curious that Fangraphs defensive stats for LF in the NL can’t find any good defensive left fielders except Kris Bryant?

As my friend Bobby Down tells us over and over, Matt Kemp is awesome except in May.
The numbers bear this out:

Year | BA/OBP/Slug
May 2014 | .266 / .293 / .362
May 2015 | .186 / .225 / .212
May 2016 | .186 / .189 / .373
Career May | .249 / .303 / .378
Career | .286 / .340 / .490

Once Matt Kemp got out of May he would have an excellent offensive season with one little burp in August.

Since Matt Kemp became a full-time player in 2008 this is how he stacks up on the HR outfielder leaderboard:

Jose Bautista 277 4949 0.378 0.519 0.896
Nelson Cruz 269 4704 0.343 0.529 0.873
Ryan Braun 251 5327 0.366 0.535 0.902
Curtis Granderson 243 5456 0.34 0.468 0.808
Jay Bruce 241 5189 0.318 0.467 0.785
Matt Kemp 223 5339 0.34 0.489 0.829
Adam Jones 222 5593 0.319 0.462 0.781
Justin Upton 219 5408 0.349 0.476 0.824
Giancarlo Stanton 208 3428 0.357 0.539 0.896
Carlos Gonzalez 201 4347 0.347 0.521 0.868

Once again, Matt Kemp and Jay Bruce are joined at the hip. Even being traded this season at the trading deadline.

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