Once Again, It’s the Matt Kemp Show

Or, what’s the best trade the Dodgers never made?

For more than a year, the talk has been that the Dodgers needed to trade Matt Kemp: He’s through, he lost it defensively, he lost it at the plate, he’ll never repeat what he did in 2011, he’s the most overpaid player in a sport where EVERYBODY is overpaid, he’s only playing because so-and-so is hurt, we want Joc Pederson, etc., etc., etc.

And then there is Kemp himself, saying he wanted to play center, griping when he didn’t start, saying, well maybe a trade would be ok, well if I’m traded I’ll get to play center again,

plus there were all the comments coming from his agent, former Dodgers' pitcher Dave Stewart.

Well, he wasn't traded, and while the only reason he was taken off the bench and inserted in left field was because Carl Crawford was hurt, but he played just good enough, and just better enough than Andre Ethier so that when Crawford got back in the line, Kemp moved over to right field replacing Ethier, and the rest, as
Majestic Matt Kemp LA Dodgers Fashion T-Shirt $34.95
they say, is history.

When he was removed as the everyday center fielder and benched on May 22, Kemp was hitting .265, with five home runs and 13 RBI in 147 at bats. Since his return, he has hit .335, raising his season average to .288, and in 197 at bats since has hit six homers and driven in 35. And, those numbers are getting better every day. In his last two games he is six-for-eight, with three home runs and six RBI.

In addition, he has done some excellent baserunning, though he still is not the base stealer he once was, and his defense in right field has left little more to ask for.

Can he ever return to numbers like 39/126/.324/.985 OPS/7.8 WAR as he put up in 2011? Unlikely, but you never know. For now, he is playing the best he has since his injuries began in 2012, he is getting clutch, key hits, and once again he is the guy you want up when you need the big hit. He singled in the winning run tonight in the 10th inning, after giving the Dodgers an early come-from-behind lead last night with his first home run, and then solidifying a later one-run lead
with his second two-run homer of the game.

No one really knows whether or not the Dodgers ever did come close to trading Kemp, but it seems certain now that he won’t be traded any time soon, and that the team is a lot better off with him than they would have been without him as the final two months of the season are set to begin, and with a likely tight race to the end looming ahead. And then to follow, the playoffs, and maybe even a World Series for the best team that money can buy, and one of its most expensive players.

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