Matt Kemp’s New Home
The San Diego Padres have completed a trade with their division rival the Los Angeles Dodgers for Matt Kemp. In addition to the star outfielder, the Dodgers are reportedly sending catcher Tim Federowicz as well, with the Padres parting ways with Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. For now the focus will be on Kemp, as he is the prize San Diego was chasing.
Kemp is coming off of a very successful 2014 campaign, posting an impressive .287/.346/.506 line. He made it into 150 games after battling back from shoulder and ankle surgery. Add in Kemp’s hamstring issues and the 30-year-old outfielder has risk, despite his offensive upside. Note his declining stolen base attempts and success rates. For three straight seasons Kemp has not stolen double digit bags after posting an average of 32 steals from 2008-2011. He attempted 13 steals last year, however was only successful in eight of his attempts. Whether or not he trusts his legs again will go a long way in determining his fantasy value. If he can simply reach the 20 bag plateau, Kemp pushes himself into the top echelon of National League outfielders.
If we can’t count on his legs bringing value, what about Kemp’s bat? Dodger Stadium is no hitters heaven — the club led all of baseball with a 113 wRC+ on the road against a ninth place 108 wRC+ at home — but Petco is notorious for being tough on hitters. The pictures below highlight the differences between Dodger Stadium and Petco. (Click to embiggen in a new window)
While the overall run variance is considerable for right-handed hitters, the worst news is about what we figured: the home runs. Kemp blasted 25 round-trippers last season with a 20% HR/FB rate, the third best mark of his career. Observe his three-year average fly ball distance in conjunction with his home run total and HR/FB%. Keep in mind both Kemp’s 2012 and 2013 seasons were limited due to a variety of injuries.
Kemp was in the top 10 for average fly ball distance and in the top 15 of HR/FB rate in 2012 and 2014. When healthy, Kemp’s power should play fine, even with the larger home park working against him.
Another 35+ home run campaign may not be in the works, but he should clear 20+ home runs comfortably. What may hurt the most isn’t the home runs, but the lack of other counting stats. No longer a dependable source of steals, run and RBIs are now tied to Kemp’s value and the offense he is joining isn’t particularly strong. The Padres’ 535 runs last season was dead last in the majors, and their offense ranked last in AVG, OBP and SLG. Their collective .226/.292/.342 line equaled a team 82 wRC+, unsurprisingly the worst in the league. One man can’t revamp a lineup on his own, however Kemp’s power should remain largely unaffected by the new park. Whether or not he hits solo home runs is up to his teammates.