The Atlanta Braves move to add Matt Kemp has brought a lot more to the team than can be measured simply by one stat.
On August 1st, 2016 Atlanta Braves’ GM John Coppolella pulled a rabbit out of the hat and turned Hector Olivera and his albatross of a contract into Matt Kemp. Kemp is a classic clean-up hitter who hit a combined 35 homers, 39 doubles, and knocked in 108 runs for San Diego and Atlanta.
A number of saber metrics fans hate on Matt Kemp because he hit .268 while only drawing 36 walks in comparison to striking out 156 times. However, the job of a clean-up hitter is to KNOCK IN RUNS! It is seriously doubtful that two high OBP hitters lacking power making $9 mil each platooning could come close to equaling Kemp’s offensive production and effect on the lineup while batting cleanup.
Kemp is owed $18 mil in each of the next three seasons. Where are we going to find a hitter who can compliment Freddie Freeman and provide protection for him from the right side of the plate? Who can also replicate Kemp’s numbers and continue hitting for a high average and drawing a lot of walks? Last I checked, neither Mike Trout not Bryce Harper are available!
Kemp’s presence in the lineup allows for Nick Markakis to slide down to the number five spot of the order. For most of his two years with The Braves, Markakis was hitting out of place in the order when he was hitting lead off and cleanup.
One issue with the ‘WAR’ stat, is its inability to properly measure the impact a home run threat has mentally on an opposing pitcher. Especially to the mental stress his presence causes while a pitcher is pitching to hitters ahead of him in the batting order. It isn’t just Freddie Freeman who benefits, but the top two hitters in the batting order as well. While a home run is only worth one run it has a psychological affect on a pitcher and pumps up the home crowd and deflates a crowd on the road.
How can one properly measure a mental/intangible effects a hitter has? That is for someone more intelligent than I to answer. What I do know is that Matt Kemp had a far better season than 0.0 (according to ‘WAR’) in 2016! His defense may not be the greatest but it is balanced out by what he brings to the team and the threat he poses as a hitter. The Braves made a good move bringing Matt Kemp to Atlanta in 2016.