In recent years, Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Matt Kemp has been heavily criticized for his lack of production and inability to consistently contribute on the field.
Kemp’s recent play has silenced those critiques, as he is currently one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball. His two-year offensive slide has come to a screeching halt as he has been displaying power numbers from his past seasons.
It has been a long road back to success and Kemp relayed his early impatience and struggles to Pedro Moura of the OC Register:
I’m an impatient person,” Kemp said Thursday. “Me trying to be patient, waiting for it to come back, that was frustrating.”
Kemp has been hampered by injuries for the past two years, which could explain his prolonged struggles on the field. In recent years, Kemp has suffered a severely pulled hamstring, torn labrum in his left shoulder, rotator cuff damage and a micro-fracture in his ankle.
Kemp spoke of the expectation to work himself back from the various injuries:
As an athlete, as a competitor, no matter what happens – injuries – you always expect to come back,” Kemp said. “You have to be patient in these situations. I’ve had a couple of injuries that have been serious. You can ask Gonzo and Hanley, and those guys who have had some of those serious surgeries. I wish you could come back from some of these major surgeries and get back to the way you used to be right away, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that.”
The 29-year-old was at one point a workhorse for the Boys in Blue. In May 2012, Kemp held the most consecutive games played by an active player.
The 2011 National League Most Valuable Player runner-up was rumored to be a possible trading tool, but may have played himself out of such speculation. General manager Ned Colletti essentially said as much:
We need Matt Kemp. We need him to help our club. Right-handed power is hard to find.”
After intensive rehab and finally becoming healthy, Kemp has recently flashed signs of reverting to the player of old. He’s already surpassed his 2013 home run total by five, while increasing his on-base percentage by 25 points, currently .353, and slugging percentage by 67 points, up to .462.
Correlating with Kemp’s improved play is a Dodgers’ six-game winning streak built on consecutive series sweeps.
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