Spring Training Is Underway: 2014 Season Preview

We’ve concluded our examination of the Dodgers two options in right field. In the next few posts, we’ll take a look at center field. Our first post on center field will take a look at Matt Kemp’s projections for 2014. Then we’ll return to Andre Ethier in tomorrow’s post. 

2013 numbers: .270/.328/.395, .316 wOBA, 103 wRC+
2014 projected numbers
(Steamer): .271/.343/.464, .347 wOBA, 125 wRC+
(Oliver): .268/.332/.437, .335 wOBA, 116 wRC+

Talk about a rough season and a half. Matt Kemp has not been the same player since his breakout season in 2011. Coors Field is an abomination that eats the good Dodgers and spares the shitty ones. In the case of Matt Kemp, Coors Field devoured him and then spit out just the shell.

Despite playing injured, and even playing less than 100% healthy, Matt Kemp still put up numbers that were above league average in 2013. In the 2014 season, Kemp is expected to return to form. So then why the decline? If we look at 2011, Kemp hit .324/.399/.586/.985, had a godly .483 wOBA, and posted a 168 wRC+. Even if we look at his partial 2012 season, Kemp still hit .303/.367/.538/.905, had a .383 wOBA coupled with a 146 wRC+. If Kemp is expected to be healthy, shouldn’t he be expected to return to his 2011/2012 former self? Sadly, we probably won’t see those numbers from Kemp again. Let’s not forget that in the 2014 season, Matt Kemp will be 30. And while that is not old in baseball years, it’s years removed from his age 27 season.

Matt Kemp will be a contributor to the Dodgers lineup, but both Steamer and Oliver show a decline in his BABIP. Kemp has a career BABIP of .352 and projections have him pegged with a .339 and .329 BABIP, respectively. A possible factor for the low projected BABIP is his low projected ISO (ability to hit for power.) Kemp’s career ISO is at a solid .201, both Steamer and Oliver have him projected at a .192 and .170 ISO, respectively. In the last three seasons Kemp had began healthy, the Dodgers center fielder boasted an ISO of .201 in 2010, .262 in 2011, and .236 in 2012. So while Kemp will reportedly begin 2014 completely healthy, after missing 145 games over the course of two full season, it will take some time for him to find his power. If that happens sometime in 2014, then the lineup just went from pretty good to stacked.

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