What Clayton Kershaw is to the pitching staff, Matt Kemp is to the Dodgers offense. Kemp is the one carrying the load, but in 2013 has more help around him. Now it's just a matter of Kemp being healthy.
Kemp had two hits Thursday night in Anaheim, including a triple, and is hitting just .213/.304/.383 this spring.
"Everybody was talking about all his troubles last year, too," said manager Don Mattingly. "But he ended up having a pretty good April."
Pretty good, as in perhaps the best offensive month in franchise history. Kemp in spring training in 2012 hit just .262/.271/.400 with two home runs, just two walks, and 26 strikeouts in 67 plate appearances. But once the regular season started he was on fire. In 23 games last April, Kemp hit .417/.490./.893 with 12 home runs, 24 runs scored, and 25 RBI.
But limited by injuries to his left hamstring and left shoulder, Kemp hit just 11 home runs in his final 83 games of the season, hitting .271/.333/.445 the rest of the way.
The more troublesome of Kemp's 2012 injuries was to his left shoulder, suffered while crashing into the center field wall in Coors Field on Aug. 28. Kemp needed surgery after the season to repair a torn labrum and some debridement of the rotator cuff.
He wasn't able to swing a bat until January, and missed the first week of games in spring training as well. But despite the poor spring numbers by Kemp, Mattingly sees no reason to be worried about his star center fielder.
"He hasn't shown up on any medical report for his shoulder in a long time," Mattingly said. "I'm okay with Matt. He's got bat speed, you see that. He's feeling good enough now, and that intensity is there. That's what we expect. I'm okay with where he's at. I think mentally he's ready, and physically he has looked ready."
Kemp set a goal of being ready by opening day, and barring something bizarre happening this weekend he will easily achieve that. In 2012, after missing the 40/40 club by a single home run in 2011, Kemp half-jokingly set a goal for 50 home runs and 50 stolen bases. This year, the goal for Kemp is more simple.
"I'm not worried about numbers. As long as I stay on the field, the numbers should be there," Kemp said. "I just want to stay healthy, that's it."
If Kemp can put up 150 or more in the 'games played' column, the Dodgers should be just fine.
Kemp's .501 career slugging percentage ranks 10th all-time in Dodgers franchise history, minimum 1,500 plate appearances.
Kemp in his career is a .343/.405/.618 hitter in April with 99 RBI in 126 games, and his 30 home runs in April are his most in any month of his career.
Kemp will be paid $20 million in 2013, plus $2 million that was deferred from 2012, in the second season of an eight-year contract.
Previous player profiles
2011: Primed for a rebound
2012: The real MVP
|2013 Projections - Age 28 Season|
The power might take a little extra time to come back after shoulder surgery, but I still think Kemp manages to hit 32 home runs, and will hit .309/.376/.548.
What is your guess for Kemp? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, number of starts, and any other thing you wish to guess.