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Matt Kemp: 2015 Fantasy Baseball Overvalued Outfielder and Potential Bust


Busted Hips, Busted Fantasy Asset

Matt Kemp’s first half of 2014 was as ugly as they come with only eight home runs, 35 RBI, and a .269 batting average. He fixed whatever was bothering him in the first half by hitting 17 homers, 54 RBI, and a .309 average in the second half.

Moving down the coast to the San Diego Padres changes three things. First, Kemp moved to a much better situation and should not have to worry about losing playing time a platoon. Second, Kemp is now in a much more spacious ballpark, one that allows 10% less home runs to right handed hitters. Third, the world found out that Matt Kemp has arthritis in both hips.

The Good

Switching teams to the Padres will once again put Matt Kemp in the familiar role of everyday starter. His time in Los Angeles turned sour last year. Not only did he platoon in the outfield, but he spent a stint on the bench in May. Changing scenery should help revitalize Kemp in 2015.

The Padres opened the bank in the offseason signing some big name free agents and making blockbuster trades, including Kemp. Their lineup should be as fierce as any in the league both offensively and defensively. Their days of an under .500 ball club appear to be a thing of the past.

The Bad

As a right-handed hitter, Kemp has shown a natural tendency to pull the ball. At Dodger Stadium, the left field wall ranged from 330 feet in left field to 375 in true left-center. Petco Park ranges from 334 feet at the left field foul pole to 390 feet in the left field alley. Kemp’s average standard distance on his 25 home runs last year was 396.1 feet. Eight of the 25 were less than 390 feet, using standard distance.

Also not boding well for his new park is Kemp’s four-year decline in fly ball percentage (FB%). Even without a physical decrease in power this year, expect Kemp’s home run totals to decrease closer to the 20 home run range.

The Ugly

The horrible news for fantasy owners this year regards Kemp's hip arthritis. As if his previous injury history wasn’t risky enough, this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Kemp’s injury prone status has been escalated to an even higher level now. I'm not a doctor, I just know how frustrating the past two years have been for Kemp owners. With this new diagnosis, the threat level is raised.

It has been apparent for three years now that Kemp’s days of 20 stolen bases is a thing of the past. Perhaps the arthritis diagnosis has caused the sharp decline. Combined with his falling FB%, his arthritis might be starting to eat at his other fantasy numbers.


Leave Kemp alone. He still has a big name in the fantasy baseball world and someone in your league will pay too much for him (who hasn’t the past two years?). What if he is the still on the board during the last few rounds? I’d say why not. At that point you aren’t paying for anything more than an average outfielder. The risk of drafting him any higher than that is just too great.