Matt Kemp, Master of the Fast Start

Matt Kemp celebrates the first 20 games (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Ever since Matt Kemp showed up on May 28, 2006 he's been getting off to fast starts. Who can forget his memorable splash when he slugged seven home runs in his first 20 games? Or his blazing start to 2010 when we proclaimed him all world before the month of April was even done? Or his equally fast start to this season, his fastest start ever.

Which got me thinking, does he always do this? So I ran his numbers for the first 20 games of each season to see if I could find a pattern.  The answer would appear to be Yes.  Only in 2008 was he below normal, every other year he was significantly better then his career numbers by large margins. 

Matt Kemp did not play his first game in 2006 until May 28th, in 2007 he played five games in April but then did not finish his 20 count until June.  I arbitrarily used 20 games going in with no preset convictions other then knowing he had a fast start to his career in 2006 and his last two Aprils. I was a bit surprised he did the same thing in 2007 and 2009.  I could have used 25 games, I could have used 30, I simply choose to use 20. This is not science, I was simply curious what his 20 game starts looked like.

Year	PA	Hr	BA	OB%	Slug%	OPS
2006	75	7	0.318	0.36	0.667	1.027
2007	56	1	0.431	0.464	0.529	0.993
2008	69	1	0.273	0.304	0.439	0.743
2009	83	3	0.306	0.386	0.556	0.942
2010	96	7	0.294	0.354	0.586	0.940
2011	84	4	0.411	0.488	0.644	1.132
Career			0.289	0.340	0.477	0.817

 

Is  Matt Kemp strictly a spring flower who opens his petals in glorious promise only to wither under the hot Los Angeles sun? Only time will tell, it just seems that at this time every year, Dodger fans think they have the best centerfielder in baseball. Contract talk always centers around what a bargain he'd be if we had signed him the previous August to an extension.

We know Matt Kemp is good, the question remains can Matt Kemp be great for a whole summer. All hitters will have hot and cold streaks, just seemed curious to me that Matt's best streaks are at the start of the season.  No one is expecting an OPS over 1.000 or probably over .900 but this team needs him to stave off the summer time blues and perform all year or the season will fold up with him.

That is a lot of pressure to put on the twenty six year old, and it is probably not fair, but when your lineup has the likes of Loney, Miles, Carroll, Barajas, (Sands-Gibbons-Gwynn) it is what it is.

One final note: in games 21 - 32 in 2011, his OPS = .770, and you might have noticed we are not scoring many runs.

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