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2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 18: Why the Dodgers' Matt Kemp Is a Risky Pick

PHOENIX - JULY 03:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers on deck during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 3, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Nick KappelAnalyst IIIJanuary 25, 2011

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

Matt Kemp’s 2009 breakout season had many (this Insider not included) claiming the Dodgers’ center fielder was a top-10 pick heading into 2010.

Instead of improving on his near 30/100/100/30/.300 campaign, however, Kemp regressed in four of the five statistical categories, posting a (relatively) disappointing 28-HR, 82-run, 89-RBI, 19-steal, .249-average season.

While some point to his well-publicized relationship with Rihanna or the mismanagement of Joe Torre, I prefer to explore the tangible evidence, such as his relatively low BABIP and high strikeout rate.

We mentioned this last year, and it’s worth repeating: Kemp’s BB/K ratio is alarmingly low for a player who’s relied on as much as he is.

In fact, Kemp’s pathetic 0.31 BB/K rate last season (which was actually worse than his 2009 mark, and well-below the MLB average of 0.46) was the 15th worst in baseball among players with at least 500 plate appearances.

Given the same criteria, Kemp’s strikeout rate (28.2 percent) was 12th worst among major leaguers.

In terms of contact rate, Kemp’s mark of 71.8 percent (MLB average was 80.7 percent) was the sixth lowest among qualifying players, while his swinging strike rate (12.6 percent, MLB average was 8.5 percent) was the 11th worst in baseball.  

Given this flurry of negative stats, it’s difficult to project Matt Kemp’s 2011 season. There are, however, some positive signs.

Assuming Andre Ethier (who missed two-and-a-half weeks last season with a broken finger, forcing him to struggle from there on out) is healthy can only aid Kemp in the Dodgers lineup.

Kemp did experience a bit of bad luck last season, posting a .295 BABIP (career .344) while maintaining reasonable line drive and fly ball rates. That clip should average out in 2011, likely bumping his batting average back up into the more respectable .280 range.  

Although Kemp’s below-average plate discipline has kept him from reaching his full potential (and will likely continue doing so), he’s still proven as a fantasy asset.

Heading into his age 26 season, Kemp is perhaps the riskiest pick among the top 20. Proceed with caution.

 PARHRRBISBAVG
2010 stats66882288919.249
3-year average66491248929.279
2011 FBI Forecast67595299525.287

 

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