Secret Weapon #1
This is a series that will focus on several weapons the Dodgers have that could make a world of difference to them in 2018. Today, we will discuss secret weapon #1. This series will run several days – I can’t tell you how many there are because you can’t know (yet) how many secret weapons the Dodgers have.
When the Dodgers traded Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson to the Braves, it was not because they wanted Matt Kemp… it was just a move to put themselves in a better financial position. It has been called the “Charlie Culberson Trade” because he might be the most valuable component… or not!
When the trade was made, the Braves immediately released A-Gon, and practically all of the writers expected that the Dodgers would do the same… except they didn’t! I was in the minority – I said they would keep him. They didn’t for a reason and that reason is THE GAME IS PLAYED BY HUMANS AND NOT COMPUTERS!
It is not lost on me that Matt Kemp was rated the worst defensive outfielder in baseball last year. The stats say so. It is not lost on me that Matt Kemp had a -1.3 WAR last season or that even when he hit 35 HR in 2016, his OB% was just .304. The stats say so! I know all of that! I also know (contrary to what Matt says) that he was a negative influence in the Dodgers’ clubhouse when he was with the team before.
All of that is history. What happens next is a mystery, but when the Dude shows up to Spring Training in great shape, having dropped over 40 pounds, you have to take notice. When he answers questions, even tough ones, you have to take notice. Clayton Kershaw did. Pedro Moura of The Athletic wrote this:
Kershaw cited the financial considerations behind their reunion, but said he texted Kemp over the off-season to express optimism.
“I’ve seen him at his best,” Kershaw said. “I know he still has the ability to play baseball very well.”
On Tuesday morning, Kemp surveyed the changed landscape around him, the new spring-training hats and the new players. He lumped his goals and the Dodgers’ together, and professed hope for what could come.
“As of right now, this is it,” Kemp said. “This where I am. I’m gonna ride this thing until the wheels fall off. Literally.”
This quote (also from The Athletic) speaks volumes:
“This is the Matt Kemp I remember when he was having that MVP-type year with the Dodgers,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday as spring training dawned.
Seven years ago, Matt Kemp had one of the best seasons ever by a Los Angeles Dodger when he hit 39 HR. 126 RBI with a .324 BA and a .986 OPS. Baseball-Reference projects him to hit 23 HR with 73 RBI and have a .262 BA in 2018 and while I might take that, I could easily be convinced (and I am in the process) that he could do a lot more. Matt Kemp could be a secret weapon. OK, he’s not so secret, but many think he is a horrible defender. Yeah, 40 extra pounds and playing for a team going no where can do that to a guy!
Many think the Dodgers will cut him because he has no value. They can say it all they want, but he might have a lot of value. Let me remind you that the game is played by humans and there is nothing so strong as the power of the human spirit.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SOMEONE ON A MISSION!
Matt Kemp has taken the right steps. He has lost over 40 pounds. He has a clear head and a cheerful demeanor. He is on a mission for redemption and he wants to win a World Series with the team he loves! Yes, Matt Kemp loves the Dodgers. He is a Dodger at heart! Barring injury, and that has to be a factor, I would not be the least bit surprised if Matt Kemp put up MVP-Type Numbers in 2018.
Some people say he has no value and will be cut… well actually, a lot of people say that! I say he could put up MVP-Type numbers. Who is right? I guess we will find out. The truth may lie somewhere in-between… or not! If I were guessing… and I am, I would guess that Matt Kemp has about 450 AB’s in 2018 and hit .289 with 31 HR and 86 RBI. That would be HUGE. Matt Kemp is secret weapon #1.
… stay tuned for secret weapon #2…
In the photo below taken by Jon SooHoo/ Los Angeles Dodgers, it appears that Clayton Kershaw is wearing a back brace. Not a bad thing… or a good thing… but a THING, nevertheless!
Lots of good photos HERE.