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Monday, December 15, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MATT KEMP OUTFIELDER SAN DIEGO PADRES

Sometimes a player's prime years can be fleeting.  One day a player is on top of the game athletically and the next, he is a shell of his former self due to age, injury, or a combination of both.  One can certainly see this phenomenon when it comes to the case of new San Diego Padres outfielder Matt Kemp.  The Padres finally completed a trade for Kemp last week at the Winter Meetings and announced the deal Monday once he passed his physical.  The fact Kemp was able to pass the physical is sort of news in and of itself considering how much of a mess he had been health-wise the two seasons prior.  It has been a long road back for Kemp from his 2011 fantasy baseball MVP level when he smacked 39 home runs, stole 40 bases, and batted .324 in one of the better seasons seen in years.  Unfortunately from 2012 through 2013, Kemp suffered through maladies that included back, knee, hamstring, and shoulder ailments that led to surgery on more than one occasion.  Things got so bad that Kemp logged only 263 at-bats in 2013 when he hit all of 6 home runs while batting .270.  Thus as 2014 dawned, there were a ton of questions regarding whether Kemp was quickly fading prematurely before our eyes despite the fact he was turning only 30.  After a slow start to the season however, Kemp successfully fought back to reclaim his name as he hit 25 home runs, drove in 89, and batted a solid .287  Very good numbers indeed that put Kemp back into outfielder 2 territory as he moves on to San Diego. 

Of course the fact I mentioned that Kemp is now an outfielder 2 and not the 1 he was clearly back in 2011 speaks to how he has changed overall as a player.  At this stage of the game, Kemp is no longer a five-tool fantasy baseball monster due to the fact he has lost a good deal of speed and he may not even be a .300 hitter anymore.  Kemp stole only 8 bases last season and was caught 5 times which speaks to how much ability he has lost in that part of the game.  The Padres also are a team that historically doesn't run as much which means Kemp could very well struggle to reach 10 steals once again this season.  Also like I noted, Kemp's batting average is trending downward as he has hit .270 and .287 the last two seasons and now he goes to quite possibly the worst offensive park in the majors in Petco Park with the Padres.  While Los Angeles is also one of the more pronounced pitching parks, Petco Park is in a league of their own when it comes to challenges to hit for power and even average. 

Now let's get to the power.  It was very nice to see Kemp go back up to the 25 home run plateau last season and when he has been generally healthy, has been a lock with 5 of the last 6 seasons having him hitting at least 23 bombs.  Of course again we have to mention the effect of Petco Park as Kemp is going to struggle to reach 25 home runs there, especially with the lack of protection in the lineup.  There are no Yasiel Puig's or an Adrian Gonzalez on the Padres which means Kemp will be pitched to carefully.  20-23 home runs sounds right with around 85 RBI when you factor everything together.  Finally, Kemp is more of a 75-85 run scored player at this stage of the game, with him coming in on the lesser side of that statistical area code this season.

When you put things all together, Matt Kemp retains outfielder 2 status for 2015 fantasy baseball.  while he is a shell of his former MVP self, Kemp can still help you with the power numbers and hit for a decent average.  The health questions linger however and the ballpark is awful.  Be sure to rice him according to his current level of play and not what we have seen just a few years ago.

2015 PROJECTION:  .275 23 HR 86 RBI 77 R 7 SB



 
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