The improbable year for Matt Kemp continues. Back when he was traded to the Dodgers in December, many believed he wouldn’t suit up for LA.
Sources: Kemp unlikely to play for #Dodgers. Strong candidate to be traded or released.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2017
He proved the naysayers wrong, making the opening day roster. Kemp didn’t stop there, as he was named a starter in the All-Star Game, his first since 2012.
Kemp wrapped up his incredible 2018 campaign by being named the Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year in the National League. He received 51 votes, ahead of Nick Markakis (34), Miles Mikolas (24) and Jonny Venters (13).
On the year, Kemp hit .290/.338/.481/.818. He had 21 homers and drove in 85 runs.
“Well, he’s a very talented hitter,” Clayton Kershaw said while speaking to reporters. “He’s always been able to hit the baseball. So him coming back, I think the only difference really I see is that I think he’s just -- it’s hard to explain. I think he’s just really bought in to what we’re doing here, and I think leaving and then coming back maybe helps him realize how good of an organization it is and some of the things that we’re trying to accomplish.”
Kemp was traded to the Padres in 2015. He spent about a year-and-a-half there before being dealt to Atlanta. He spent another year-and-a-half with Atlanta, before being traded back to Los Angeles in December.
“You know, he said it himself, getting back to the postseason and not playing on winning teams and things like that can be taxing when you’re used to doing that in the postseason and going,” Kershaw continued. “As far as a player, offensively I don’t see a whole lot of difference. I remember him in 2011 when he very easily could have been the MVP, and that swing is definitely still in there.”