The Los Angeles Dodgers took two out of three games in their series against the Colorado Rockies, and mercurial outfielder Matt Kemp played a major role in the Dodger victories. It may be simple coincidence, but the recent comments made by Don Mattingly seem to have had an impact on Kemp, who showed flashes of the player who was the runner-up in the 2011 MVP vote.
On the series, Kemp was 5-for-9 at the plate with two triples, driving in three runs and scoring two. He also drew three walks and demonstrated aggression on the basepaths, frequently attempting to take an extra base wherever possible. Could it have been Mattingly’s comments having something to do with Kemp’s sudden production?
For his part, Kemp agreed with his manager’s assessment of the team’s play leading up to the Colorado series, saying:
“I mean, we haven’t been playing very good baseball. I think we would all agree…We’re just not executing when we need to execute.”
It is a good sign that Kemp immediately took ownership of the team’s responsibility to execute, and an even better sign that the former MVP candidate was able to deliver on the offensive end. If the Dodgers are going to turn their mediocre season around, Kemp’s production will have to be much better than it has been.
For the season, Kemp’s slash line is .253/.311/.426, well off from the production that the Dodgers would have liked to have seen from Kemp in this 2014 season. He has also suffered the indignity of being moved to left field, insisting that, despite defensive metrics that make Kemp’s shortcomings very clear, he is still a center fielder. Before making the move to left, Kemp was benched for several games and his playing time could have continued to have been reduced had it not been for Carl Crawford’s injury.
The Dodgers have to hope that this series – and Mattingly’s comments – will get Kemp back on track offensively. With Adrian Gonzalez slumping and Yasiel Puig day-to-day with a hip injury, the Dodgers may have to rely on Kemp’s bat throughout the Cincinnati series.
If Kemp can get hot – and remain that way – the Dodgers may have the offensive spark that they need to start making a run in the NL West. If this was merely a short-lived hot streak, then it may be very likely that the Dodger mediocrity continues.
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