During spring training 2012, Matt Kemp struggled… badly. He went 17 for 65 (.262) in 22 spring training games with only 2 home runs and 13 RBIs. But from opening day on April 5, 2012 through April 30, 2012, Matt Kemp was the best hitter in all of baseball. His numbers were alien-like, with Matt going 35 for 84 (.417), an OBP of .490, a SLG of .893, and an impossible OPS of 1.383. Matt hit 12 home runs and had 25 RBIs – all of this in only 23 games. He would be named as the National League Player of the Week for three consecutive weeks. Needless to say, Dodger fans were ecstatic.
Unfortunately and as we all know, Kemp injured his hamstring, went on the DL for the minimum of 15 days, returned to the line-up, and in his second game back re-injured his hamstring and was lost until after the All-Star break. And even though Kemp finished the 2012 season with a very respectable .303/.367/.538 with 23 home runs and 69 RBIs, the 56 games that he missed cost him a shot at the 2012 NL MVP title, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. Kemp would go on to have off-season shoulder surgery to his left (non-throwing) arm to repair a torn labrum that he suffered in a violent collision with the center field wall at Coors Field late in the season.
Although there were concerns that Kemp’s shoulder would not be fully healed by spring training 2013 and more importantly by opening day 2013, Kemp repeatedly insisted that he would be ready.
You be the judge:
Kemp appeared in 19 spring training games (three less than in 2012), went 13 for 52 (.250) with only 1 home run and 9 RBIs. And then from opening day on April 1, 2013 through Tuesday night’s gave against the Mets at a very cold Citi Field, the 19th game of the season, Kemp is 16 for 68 (.247) with zero home runs and only 6 RBIs; not to mention that he has struck out 20 times. These numbers certainly suggest that Kemp wasn’t ready on opening day and that he may, in fact, still be hurting from his off-season surgery.
Okay, now for some good news, and Lord knows Dodger fans could sure use some of that.
Through the first four games of the current 6-game road trip, Kemp is 8 for 18 (.444) with 2 runs scored and 1 RBI. He also stole 3 bases and struck out only twice. In just four games, Kemp has raised his season batting average from an anemic .182 to .247.
But wait… There’s more!
Although it is clear that Kemp has not fully regained his strength, he hit a double off the wall in the right field gap on Tuesday night that was inches from going out, and when Matt Kemp hits with power to right field, there is great cause for celebration by Dodger fans because this is where his power is. When Matt can take a 95 MPH fastball to the right field gap, it is only a matter of time, perhaps even only a few days, until he starts jacking them out.
In other words, it appears that our beloved Matt Kemp, the REAL Matt Kemp, is back – and not a second too soon.