Matt Kemp: What to do with Struggling Outfielder


Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I want to tell those of you that own Matt Kemp in your respective fantasy leagues that you should keep the faith because a turnaround will happen soon. But realistically, this is not going to happen in 2014. If you own Matt Kemp, you know that seeing his name in your fantasy lineup can’t end soon enough.

Three years ago, he was the best all-around player in baseball. Ankle injuries have stalled his stolen base potential to a crawl. Shoulder and hamstring injuries have drained his defensive abilities. He no longer plays centerfield because he is a major liability.

He has shown brief flashes this season of how he can still dominate a game on many different levels but his hot hitting ways have been few and far between.

The numbers don’t lie. You don’t have to dig very deep to figure out what is wrong with his numbers. His strikeout percentage (26 percent) hasn’t been this high since his rookie season in 2006. He has the highest groundball and lowest fly ball rates of his career.

When you’re a power hitter and you’re not getting enough lift on the ball, causing them to go on the ground, you have a serious mechanical problem.

Whether it’s mechanics, mental lapses or nagging injuries, something is not right with Matt Kemp. These numbers add up to him being the fourth best outfielder at Chavez Ravine.

Pitches he used to drive to the opposite field are eating him alive on the inside part of the plate. His runs above average when facing a slider or a cutter are bordering on the atrocious level. Pitchers have found a way to get him out and he hasn’t made the necessary adjustments.

There is a lot to be said about playing time. Matt Kemp has taken up a permanent position in left field with the absence of Carl Crawford. In his last 20 at-bats he has hit .350. Before Crawford went on the disabled list, at-bats were hard to come by, which makes adjustments that much more difficult to make when you aren’t seeing live pitching on a daily basis.

It looks like his suddenly hot hitting ways of the past week are going to come to a quick end when Carl Crawford makes his return to the starting lineup this weekend.

I believe he has a lot of value left in him. His value as a fantasy commodity is not going to come in a Los Angeles Dodger uniform. Matt Kemp is only 30 years old and still in his prime. He needs a change of scenery with a team who appreciates his talents and gives him an opportunity to play on a daily basis that allow him to make adjustments.

As long as he struggles for playing time and remains a disgruntled 4th outfielder he truly has very little value for your team. It is time for a change of scenery for Matt Kemp and I believe it will help him and fantasy owners going forward.

I can’t encourage you more to find a replacement that will actually make your fantasy baseball team better.