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2020 Marlins Season Preview: Matt Kemp

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The former Dodgers star is trying to make the Marlins 26-man roster and have a career revival in 2020.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Miami Marlins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The annual tradition has returned. Leading up to Opening Day, Fish Stripes will be previewing the 2020 Marlins season, one player at a time. Find every article of the series here.


Where Did He Come From? The Marlins signed OF Matt Kemp to a minors deal on December 18, 2019.

2019 Performance

.200/.210/.283 | 3 XBH | 20 wRC+ | .208 wOBA | 20 games

If you judge Matt Kemp by his 2019 season with the Cincinnati Reds, then you’re probably losing the whole picture. Last year was hideous for Kemp, maybe the worst of his decorated 14-year career. He only appeared in 20 games and registered three extra base-hits across 60 trips to the plate, numbers that led him to a .200/.210/.283 slash line.

But at his best, Kemp has been a true star. Although no longer a 40 HR/40 SB threat (like he was in 2011), he’s just two years removed from making the NL All-Star team after hitting 25 doubles and 21 dingers as a Dodger in 2018.

Kemp’s biggest problem last year before being released on May 4 was his plate approach. The 35-year-old put up a 40.8 whiff percentage, his worst number at least since 2015, according to Baseball Savant. His swinging strike percentage went up as well, from 13.9% in 2018 to 21.2% in 2019.

Just take a look...

Matt Kemp, 2018-2019

Stat 2018 2019
Stat 2018 2019
GB% 36.4 45.2
LD% 31.6 19.0
Barrel% 11.3 2.4
Contact 72.6 60.8
FanGraphs/Statcast

By the end of May, Kemp signed a minor league deal with the Mets and never made it to the MLB team. He played in only eight games for Triple-A Syracuse before going back to free agency.

Off The Field

If you have any type of success in Los Angeles, you’re probably going to be around other famous people and have a rockstar kind of lifestyle. Kemp, whose relationship with pop star Rihanna was highly publicized in 2010, still enjoys the big city, nighttime atmosphere.

Kemp is a big fan of the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers and he wants everyone to know...

View this post on Instagram

Had to come support my bro and the squad for MNF. 4-0 #49ers

A post shared by Matt Kemp (@therealmattkemp) on

View this post on Instagram

Jus hanging out with 2 !! 7-0 #49ers

A post shared by Matt Kemp (@therealmattkemp) on

But most importantly, he seems to be very excited and enjoying spring since joining the Marlins. And you can see that on his Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

☀️⚾️

A post shared by Matt Kemp (@therealmattkemp) on

View this post on Instagram

Florida vibes! Spring Training 2020.

A post shared by Matt Kemp (@therealmattkemp) on

2020 Expectations

For the time being, manager Don Mattingly—whose relationship with Kemp dates back more than a decade—has not made any comments on whether Kemp will make the 26-man roster or not. At best, the veteran slugger appears to be battling for a reserve role.

So far, in eight spring training games, he’s batting for a .160 average (4-for-25), with two runs batted in, one stolen base, two walks, and nine strikeouts. He’s hoping to help his case by providing defensive versatility.

If Kemp ultimately earns a spot on the 2020 Marlins, he would have an opportunity to chase several milestones: 1,800 career hits (currently at 1,780), 350 doubles (335), 300 home runs (281), and 1,000 runs (932).

The best case for both the Fish and the former NL MVP is that he recaptures enough of his 2018 form to become a trade chip so that they can send him away to a contending club in exchange for a long-term, useful piece for the future.

2020 ZiPS projection

.255/.295/.433 | 35 XBH | 88 wRC+ | .302 wOBA | 417 PA

Poll

Imagine you are Don Mattingly and it’s your call: Would you give Matt Kemp a chance on the Opening Day roster?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Yes, a big role for him!
    (9 votes)
  • 46%
    Yes, but as a limited bench player
    (27 votes)
  • 37%
    No way!
    (22 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now