Matt Kemp is set to terrorize the National League in 2013.
But what if we could make him even better? How good would Kemp be if we could borrow the best skills from his Dodgers teammates to create the perfect baseball player?
Given Kemp’s prodigious talents, it would not take much to make him the best player in the game.
He was well on his way to earning that title last April before hamstring and shoulder injuries derailed his exceptional season.
As he recovers from offseason surgery, Kemp plans to be in full health by Opening Day. That would put him in position to take another shot at becoming MLB’s best all-around player.
In a recent SI.com poll, 305 fellow major leaguers recognized Kemp as having one of the game’s most dangerous outfield arms. In addition to that lethal right-arm strength, even fewer hitters can match his power at the plate.
It would seem that there is little left for Kemp to improve on, but here are three attributes that would better prepare him for MLB domination in 2013.
Adrian Gonzalez is ready to bounce back after a "down" year in 2012.
Kemp could stand to show a little more discipline at the plate, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is the perfect Dodger to help him with that—at least the 2009-11 version.
Gonzalez had career-lows of 42 walks and a .344 on-base percentage (OBP) last year. But from 2009 through 2011, he averaged more than 95 walks per season, while posting OBPs of .409, .393 and .410.
During Kemp’s best season (2011) he only drew 74 walks with a .399 OBP.
While both players are prone to striking out, Kemp’s average of 155.25 K’s per year during his four-full seasons—not counting 2012’s injury-riddled disaster—is notably higher than Gonzalez’s average of 121.
If he can convert just 20 percent of those strikeouts into walks, Kemp would have an OBP of over .400 and be that much more valuable to the Dodgers lineup.
Carl Crawford needs to remain an efficient baserunner.
Kemp needs to become a smarter baserunner.
This will become particularly important in 2013, with much better run producers hitting behind him, and new Dodgers teammate Carl Crawford is here to help.
In 207 career attempts, Kemp has been successful stealing bases 73.9 percent of the time. Crawford has been successful on 81.8 percent of his 528 career attempts.
Eliminating unforced errors is important for every team in every sport. But Kemp, the Dodgers’ best player, must be held to a higher standard if Los Angeles is going to deliver on its considerable promise this season.
Ah, to be 24 again. Must be nice Dee Gordon.
Kemp is only 28 and already has three seasons with at least 34 stolen bases, so he does not necessarily need shortstop Dee Gordon’s youth and speed.
However, after dealing with a significant hamstring injury in 2012, a healthy set of legs would be great.
Once Kemp finally returned from a 53-game absence (including two stints on the disabled list), he clearly was not the same player that stole 40 bases in 2011. From July 13 to the end of the season, he only had eight stolen base attempts.
It is unlikely that the Dodgers will let Kemp run enough to become the fifth member of the exclusive 40-40 (home runs and stolen bases) club. But they will need him in top form to have a legitimate shot at winning the National League West and advancing to the World Series.