“I check marked everything, and I’m ready to go.” -@therealmattkemp
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 29, 2014
And just like that he’s back. Matt Kemp, the 29-year old two time All-Star, will be playing Centerfield for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they host the San Francisco Giants on April 4th for their home opener. Kemp, who has been recovering from a plethora of injuries, is going to miss the San Diego series to ensure that he is ready for take on the Dodgers bitter rival.
The thought of having a former MVP runner-up playing Centerfield everyday for the Dodgers is very enticing to Dodger fans. However, do we really know what we’re getting anymore. From a production standpoint Kemp has played well enough when he’s been healthy for the Dodgers other than his dip in power, which was caused by a shoulder injury that is now healed. The issue with Kemp is that we haven’t seen him completely healthy for an extended period of time for almost two years, or ever since he signed his 8-year, $160 million deal after his magical 2011 season. It’s tough to imagine Kemp producing at or near that level ever again.
Obviously the Dodgers aren’t looking for Kemp to be 2011 Kemp again. They simply want him to produce for an extended period of time and sure up the middle of the order. With players like Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez clogging up the middle of the order it’s not up to Kemp to be the big run producer he once was. There should be no expectations for Kemp to hit 30+ home runs or drive in 100+ RBI’s. If I were Dodgers management I would be looking for Kemp to put up a .290/.370/.485 season with 15+ home runs, 75+ RBI’s and 80+ runs scored. If Kemp were to hit those targets I would consider 2014 a huge win for him.
Regardless, it’s going to be good to see #27 take the field on April 4th.