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Matt Kemp Disappoints Fantasy Baseball Owners: Where Has He Gone Wrong?

Eric StashinSenior Writer IJuly 27, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 01:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers watches his walk off home run in the tenth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 1, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 1-0 in ten innings.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Matt Kemp got his season off to a tremendous start, hitting .278 with seven HR, 20 RBI and 20 runs in April.  Since then, the numbers have been anything but impressive.  Just look at his overall line:

390 At Bats
.267 Batting Average (104 Hits)
17 Home Runs
56 RBI
60 Runs
15 Stolen Bases
.323 On Base Percentage
.469 Slugging Percentage
.316 Batting Average on Balls in Play

It is funny to call a line like that disappointing, but when you look at the numbers you realize just how much better he could be.

The stolen bases are nice, but then take into consideration that he’s been caught 12 times this season.  That is a career high and just one behind the league leader (Nyjer Morgan has been caught 13 times, but does have 25 SB).  In fact, of players who have been caught stealing 12 times or more, no player has less then 24 SB besides Kemp.

If he had been caught just eight times, his stolen base total would look much more impressive.  Instead, he’s tied for 29th in the league and a potential 30/30 season, as many had predicted, is a longshot at best.

The power has also fallen off significantly.  While you can’t expect anyone to hit seven home runs a month, Kemp hasn’t had more then four since (in July).  He also hasn’t driven in more then 13 RBI.  Since the calendar turned to June, he’s scored just 18 runs.

The overall numbers behind the home runs are almost mirror images of his 2009 campaign:

  • FB percent - 38.7 percent in ‘10 vs. 38.3 percent in ‘09
  • HR/FB - 15.0 percent in ‘10 vs. 14.4 percent in ‘09

It’s not too late for him to take the next step forward, but it appears that he has stagnated in 2010.  That’s not a bad thing, but it certainly isn’t what owners had hoped for.

Where he has regressed is in the strikeout department.  Just look at his strikeout numbers the past three seasons:

  • 2008 - 25.2 percent
  • 2009 - 22.9 percent
  • 2010 - 26.9 percent

For his career, he’s at 25.2 percnt, so 2009 appears to be the outlier.  Couple the increased strikeouts with a decrease in luck (his BABIP is a realistic .316, after posting marks of .361 and .345 the previous two seasons) and you get the resulting decrease in average.

Maybe it’s too early to call 2010 a lost year.  That’s fair, as we do still have two months left to the season.  Should he get hot for a month, the numbers will look significantly different.  Still, at this point you have to say that he has not taken the next step, as many hoped.

You could say that the constant shuffling in the lineup has played a role.  He’s actually had at least one AB in every spot in the order but eighth.  Why they can’t just find a spot for him and leave him there is beyond me.

Do his numbers justify considering him as one of the elite outfielders in the game?  Absolutely, but that’s as much an indication of the state of the position.  With just a little bit of maturation he could develop into a top three or four player overall.  It doesn’t look like 2010 will be that season, but maybe he’ll get there in 2011.

What are your thoughts on Kemp?  How good could he be?  Would you consider 2010 a disappointment?

Make sure to check out our extremely early 2011 rankings:

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