Most of that is brought down by his poor fielding. According to the metrics, he's been the worst center fielder in the game by far.
But, despite his gold glove award, Kemp's defense isn't something the Dodgers shouldn't be concerned with. People know Kemp is an average - at absolute best - defensive player (though, his arm is elite in center). The problem is his bat.
Kemp is hitting just .270/.319/.356 with two home runs, one of which was legitimate. Kemp's walk rate is down (from 8.9 to 6.8 percent) and his strikeout rate is up (from 22.9 to 26.2 percent) from his 2012 numbers.
Kemp's shoulder is obviously still bothering him. He's pulling off pitches away and opening his front side entirely too much to hit baseballs with authority.
Major League teams have taken note. They've figured out how to keep Kemp, in his current state, at bay: throw him a pitch with a wrinkle to it.
While Kemp hasn't been a particularly good at hitting pitches that aren't fastballs, he's been terrible this season.
According to FanGraphs' pitch values, Kemp is struggling most against curveballs this season. In fact, every pitch going away from him is giving him problems.
Pitch valuesSliders: -1.3
He's struggling against fastballs (-0.8) and changeups (-0.5), too, but not nearly as much as the other pitches. Kemp's inability to hit and lay off pitches low and away is a call back to how he was early in his career. But he was 21 years old in his first season.
Kemp is at his best when he's hitting the ball with authority to right-center field. He proved that with his torrid April 2012. But Kemp just hasn't been able to do that this season.
It isn't just the outer-half of the plate that's giving him issues. He's not hitting anything on the inner-half with authority, either.
If the Dodgers are smart, they'll place Kemp on the disabled list until he's 100 percent healthy - or at least healthier than he is now.
It's admirable he's trying to play through pain and is out there grinding, but when he's expected to be a 5-plus win player and he's not even replacement level, something has to change.
There's no harm or shame in getting healthy. Unfortunately, the environment bred these days in professional sports says otherwise.
The Dodgers aren't going to contend for a division title, let alone a pennant or World Series championship, without Kemp being his best. They have the pieces to pick up for him in the short-term, with guys like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford - both of whom have been fantastic this season - and Hanley Ramirez, if he stays on the field long enough to make an impact. But they don't have the pieces to be a contender if he's going to play like this all season.
Disable Kemp, recall either Joc Pederson or Yasiel Puig and hope one or both can be at least adequate replacements for Kemp. At this rate, though, they'd likely be more valuable to the team than Kemp has been so far.
Kemp's 2011 season may have been an aberration, but he's far too talented to be playing like this.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
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- Matt Kemp
- Los Angeles Dodgers