Let’s begin with this: It’s good to know that Matt Kemp still has a pulse and plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I’m not a fourth outfielder. We can cut that question off right now,” Kemp said via the Los Angeles Times. “That’s the last question you have to ask me. I’m not a fourth outfielder. I’m not going to be a fourth outfielder. I’m here to help my team win and play every day. We can stop right there.”
When Kemp, 29, has been healthy he’s been one of the best players in baseball. Look no further then his 2011 season in which he batted .324 with 39 Home Runs, 126 RBI’s, stole 40 bases, scored 115 runs and got on base 40% of the time. Though he lost the MVP to Ryan Braun, who admittedly was juicing, he was widely considered one of the top three players in the game.
However, if you’ve paid any attention to the Dodgers over the past two seasons you know that Kemp has been dealing with a plethora of injuries that have cost him an average of 72.5 games per season. He’s undergone multiple surgeries on his shoulder, a result of crashing into a wall at Coors Field, and is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery that will likely keep him out of the Dodgers opener in Australia.
Right now, to be frank, Matt Kemp is the fourth outfielder for the 2014 Dodgers until he can prove himself to be healthy on a day-in and day-out basis. That, apparently, is a tough pill for Kemp to swallow and he refuses to acknowledge the fact that he may be in a platoon situation with Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford.
I must admit that I love Kemp’s attitude towards this idea and am actively rooting for him to get healthy and prove, once again, that he is one of the best players in baseball. You have to appreciate the fact that he is unwilling to relinquish the thought that he is the best position player on the Dodgers. This is what us in Los Angeles refer to as “Mamba Mode”. It’s that Kobe Bryant-esque mentality that we’ve all come to love. Let’s hope that this mentality propels Kemp to a fantastic 2014.
However, let’s also be cognizant of the fact that Kemp hasn’t been able to play on a daily basis in almost two years and that he may not be the same player he once was. While we all want Matt Kemp to be MATT FREAKING KEMP, it may just not be in the cards any more.