I am going to take a break from the Roto Roundup for the time being, maybe through the end of the season, and begin my 2015 Buy List, a list of players that I would be buying in offseason trades and in 2015 drafts. You can think of this list as an early target list.
The first name on my list is a player I know plenty about, as he currently plays right field for the Dodgers -Matt Kemp.
Coming into the season, many fantasy owners and writers were down on Matt Kemp, with some advising to stay away from him due to the injury risk. Admittedly, Kemp had missed 89 games in 2013 and 56 games in 2012 due to a variety of injuries, including multiple strained hamstrings, a shoulder injury and a serious ankle injury. He had surgery to repair the shoulder injury back in the 2012 offseason, but still struggled to hit for power in 2013. He suffered a serious ankle injury sliding into home plate last season, an injury that was deemed "career threatening". Last offseason, he had surgery to repair the ankle, and another surgery to clean up the shoulder he had operated a year before.
Heading into spring training 2014, Kemp proclaimed himself healthy, but missed most of spring training and the first week of the season. Kemp was slow to return to form after two offseason surgeries and the missed time in spring training. You couldn't blame many for being skeptical of Kemp coming into the season, and his first half performance didn't silence his critics. In the first half, Kemp hit .269 with 8 home runs, 38 runs scored and 35 RBI in 86 first half games, so he wasn't terrible, but he certainly wasn't the 30 home run, 30 stolen base hitter from a few seasons ago.
But, sometimes players are slow to return to form after offseason surgery, let alone two offseason surgeries. If Kemp's second half perfornance is any indication, Kemp needed half a season to return to the Matt Kemp from two season's ago, and he might be all the way back to being that player, minus the stolen bases.
Here's a look at his first and second half splits, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
As you can see, in 40 less games, he has hit for more power, driven in just as many runs, and hit for a better slash line. He may never steal 30 bases again, let alone 20, but he appears to be all the way back to being the hitter he was during his 2011 MVP season. Well, he didn't win the MVP, but he certainly deserved it.
Below is his career stats, again, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
|162 Game Avg.||162||590||93||172||31||26||93||25||53||155||.292||.350||.492||.842||127|
Kemp's OPS+ of 173 in the second half is actually better than the 172 he put up in 2011. To put his second half in perspective, here is a list of players who have put up a better wRC+ than his 166 in the second half:
Buster Posey, Giants - 193 wRC+
Jose Abreu, White Sox - 174 wRC+
Chris Carter, Astros - 171 wRC+
Josh Harrison, Pirates - 171 wRC+
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins - 168 wRC+
Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers - 166 wRC+
1. Only five hitters have hit more home runs than Kemp's 11 in the second half
2. 13 hitters have more RBI
3. Only four hitters have a higher slugging percentage than Kemp's .584 SLG
4. Only five hitters have a higher ISO than Kemp's .277 ISO
5. Only five hitters have a higher wOBA than Kemp's .408
He more than likely cannot keep this 46 game performance over a full season, and with power and run scoring down over the last few seasons, he will probably never approach the numbers he put up in 2011. But, he could duplicate his 2009 performance, where he hit .297 with 26 home runs and drove in 101, in 2015. The RBI total may be a bit too high, but certainly now out of the realm of possibility.
So, if you play in leagues that allow offseason trading, or in a league where owners like to talk trades like I do in the UBA NL only keeper league, I would attempt to deal for him this offseason. If you play in redraft/one year leagues, I wouldn't hesitate to draft Kemp in the 4th-5th round, maybe sooner.
Is it too early to start thinking about 2015? I think not.
I will attempt to write up at least one hitter at each position in the 2015 Buy List series. Are there any hitters that you think should be on the Buy List? We know the obvious ones - Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen. I am talking about hitters who have had a strong second half or breakout season.
Let's hear it in the comments section.
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