This last season was a comeback in more than one way for Matt Kemp. Getting traded back to Los Angeles prior to the season was just the start. On Tuesday, the Major League Baseball Player’s Association named the winners of the annual vote on their peers.
Kemp was announced as the the 2018 NL Comeback Player of the Year, finishing ahead of Clay Buchholz and Miles Mikolas.
After an offseason trade brought him back to his roots, he spent the 2018 season thriving in the heart of the @Dodgers lineup hitting .290 BA | 21 HR | 85 RBI.— #MLBPA (@MLB_PLAYERS) November 28, 2018
Your 2018 National League Comeback Player is @TheRealMattKemp!#PlayersChoiceAwards2018
It was certainly a welcome development for both Kemp and the Dodgers after the outfielder wasn’t even guaranteed to make the roster when the 4-for-1 trade was completed last December with the Braves. The 34-year-old (33 during the season), posted a bWAR (1.1) above 1.0 for the first time since leaving Los Angeles in 2014.
Kemp was a force on offense for most of the first half, slugging 15 home runs, 18 doubles and driving in 60 runs while hitting .310/352/.522 in 92 games. As late as June 16, Kemp was hitting .340 while commanding regular playing time on a team that loves platoons.
The hot start to the year landed Kemp a starting gig in the Midsummer Classic as voted on by the fans. It was his first trip the All-Star Game since 2012.
“For Matt to come back to Los Angeles and be voted in by the fans, I don’t think he’ll let on how much this means to him, but it’s well deserved,” manager Dave Roberts told media back in July.
After an inconsistent second half to the year, Kemp still finished with a solid .290/.338/.481 slash line and hit 21 homers with 85 RBI.
The 13-year veteran enters the offseason with more uncertainty, having only one year remaining on the original eight-year deal he signed with the Dodgers. The team could once again put him on the trading block for teams, this time with more value.