After waiting out the consistency issues and clubhouse grumblings early in his career, it appears as though Matt Kemp is finally turning into the player we all thought he would become. So far through 70 games, Kemp has displayed all five tools effectively and leads the National League or is tied for the lead in 15 statistical categories.
The definition of MVP so far, Kemp leads the league in Offensive Wins-Above-Replacement by a wide margin over Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and is the lone bright spot for the Dodgers. Experts say that a batter doesn’t truly hit their stride until the age of 27, and that is showing to be the case for Kemp. At 26, he is on pace over 40 home runs and nearly 130 driven in, as well as a serious chase at the NL Triple Crown. While the lack of production around him from guys like James Loney and Casey Blake help his case for an MVP, one can’t imagine the gaudy numbers that Kemp would be posting if he had better protection in addition to Andre Ethier.
Kemp’s rise to the top of the leader board comes at an interesting time for the Dodgers, and with a season and a half left of Dodger control before free agency, at some point an extension will have to be discussed. Contemporaries like Justin Upton and Ryan Braun have already been extended deep into their careers for small market teams (and Braun’s been extended twice), making it criminal should the Dodgers let go of possibly the best all-around player in the National League.
That begs question, just how good is Matt Kemp? His numbers clearly state his superiority amongst his peers, despite cynicism in Dodgertown as to whether or not he can maintain his torrid pace this time around.
The comparisons to Braun, whom he will be compared to throughout his career, could finally start to tip in Kemp’s favor. While Braun peaked as a rookie and has been steady throughout his young career, before this season Kemp struggled to keep his game at a high level. Judging by the numbers and the sheer amount of game-changing hits and defensive plays this season, it is a safe bet that Kemp is the best player in the National League. If it wasn’t for Adrian Gonzalez, he’d have a case for an even greater label. Just look at the stats, Matt Kemp’s career is exploding before our eyes, just like we all thought it would.
|162 Game Avg.||162||585||92||170||28||6||25||90||28||49||150||.290||.345||.489||.834||122|
Kemp has found a way to make his game matter, and does so by batting an astounding .377 after the 7th inning. He’s first in the league in runs created (68) and is quickly becoming one of the league’s most feared hitters, as he is tied with Prince Fielder with 9 intentional walks.
Again, imagine if he and Andre Ethier had some offense around them…yeah.