When Will Matt Kemp Go Deep?
Matt Kemp has had a tough time getting his bat going this season and it’s no surprise that he is attracting comparisons to Albert Pujols start last year. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 18 games (8-10) into 2013 and Kemp has yet to hit a single home run. Cause for concern? Well I decided to look back and compare Kemp’s start against what Pujols did for the first 18 games of 2012.
Pujols: 16-of-72 (.222) 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 Runs, 11/6 K/BB
Kemp: 16-of-68 (.235) 0 HR, 6 RBI, 7 Runs, 20/4 K/BB
Aside from the strikeouts, the numbers look very similar. The comparisons are correct in that Kemp has zero confidence at the plate. The swings he has taken this year have concerned even the average fans of the team.
When scouts have been asked about Kemp they elude that it might be a carryover from the shoulder injury suffered last year when he collided with an outfield wall in Colorado. His tendency to swing at bad pitches has hurt his overall approach at the plate. When Kemp’s swing is best is when he is driving the ball to right center or right field with power. This season in 74 plate appearances Kemp has only had two of his sixteen hits go to right field.
For whatever reason that Kemp is struggling overall, it is a bit different than Pujols. Since Pujols struck out nearly half as many times as Kemp has, his average on balls in play was lower. When Kemp puts the ball in play this year he is actually 16-for-48 (.333). What this says is that Kemp will see not only his average come way up but his power come back when the confidence comes back to his approach. Once he irons out the mechanics of his swing and he is a more patient hitter, the better pitches he will make contact with and this will result in the Kemp from 2011, or so the Dodgers hope.
One note on the Pujols comparison is that the Angels slugger didn’t get his first home run until May the sixth, which was the Angels 29th game. Coming into that game Pujols was hitting .194 which means from this point of the season it got worse before it got better. Kemp is determined to break out of the power slump and showed signs of encouragement in the recent series with the Baltimore Orioles. Not only did he go 6-for-13 in the series, he also hit a couple long fly balls that just missed going out. It looks as though there might not be worry in Dodgertown for much longer.