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2018 Player Profiles: Matt Kemp

Now a man in limbo, this outfield slugger with minimal non-fantasy value suffered a down year. If he eventually returns to a starting role somewhere, what should we expect?

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

In case you missed it, OF Matthew Kemp was traded from the Atlanta Braves back to his old team, the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a massive money exchange. Since Kemp is not a good outfielder and the Dodgers already have enough options, he doesn’t really have a place on the team. The Dodgers might be planning on trading him to be used as a DH somewhere. As someone that owns Kemp in a dynasty league and has enjoyed his consistent production, I certainly hope they trade him.

I can’t predict where he will end up, but I thought this trade would be a good opportunity to take a closer look at Kemp’s 2017 performance and see what his 2018 stats might look like.

His important 2017 stats:

PA R RBI HR AVG OBP SLG SB BABIP Hard% Exit Velo GB% HR/FB% SwStr%
467 47 64 19 0.276 0.318 0.463 0 0.318 34.70% 88.3 48.50% 19.80% 15%

Let’s unpack this a bit. A nagging right hamstring injury limited him to just 467 PA. He did rack up a decent number of HR and RBI in that short season. The RBI were certainly helped by batting fourth nearly every game. He was on pace for 26 homers for a full season, with 89 RBI. Those numbers seem perfectly reasonable for an OK fantasy outfielder. However, the other numbers seem lacking.

His former speed is completely gone (hamstring injuries haven’t helped either). His batting average also used to be an asset, but is now simply mediocre. His walk rate of 5.7% is way below average, making him not helpful in OBP leagues either. His BABIP wasn’t unreasonably high, but it was above average and yet he still didn’t have a great batting average.

As for power, his slugging percentage was certainly disappointing. His average exit velocity of 88.3 mph was only good for 135th best in baseball. His Hard% was 114th best in baseball. The most positive power stat I could find is that his barrelled balls per PA of 6.9 was 62nd best in baseball. His well-above-average 19.8% HR/FB% is not supported by those other power stats, so he was lucky to have as many homers as he did.

To make matters worse, he hit 48% of his balls into the ground. That’s not good for an aging right-handed slugger with little speed that is pull-heavy. He was very fortunate to have the BABIP he did with that batted ball profile. He needs to hit more fly balls.

To top it all off, his 15% swinging strike rate continued his history of swinging too much. Somehow, he only had a 21% strikeout rate. His swinging strike rate was 16th worst in baseball.

I wish there was more to be positive about here. Since he has no defensive value anymore (his DRS and UZR were both very negative), he has to hit to have any value to a team. The Dodgers have little use for him and they need to find someone willing to take him for him to go somewhere he is needed. And, even if that does happen, he just isn’t a very valuable fantasy hitter anymore.

Between a history of soft tissue injuries, declining power, mediocre average, poor discipline, and too many grounders, there isn’t much reason to draft Kemp in 2018. He might prove useful off the waiver wire during the season at times, depending on where he ends up. However, draft someone else with more upside for your last outfield slot.

Here are some suggestions: Mitch Haniger, Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Derek Fisher, Hunter Renfroe, and Lewis Brinson

Thanks for reading! Tschus!