As fate would have it, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Matt Kemp didn’t much time to get reacquainted after the December trade sent him south to San Diego. The two teams met for the first of a three-game series on Opening Day during which Kemp stung his former team on multiple occasions.
In Kemp’s first at-bat, the Dodgers shifted their infield to the left side in order to prevent him from pulling the ball. While the strategy did not work, they have continued deploy a similar shift throughout the season on Kemp and other pull hitters.
According to ESPN’s Mark Saxon, the photo below demonstrates the Dodgers consider Kemp to be the heaviest pull-hitter in the Padres lineup:
Matt Kemp is the most extreme ground ball pull hitter on the Padres, per Dodgers spray charts pic.twitter.com/P8itJhKDza
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) April 26, 2015
While it may seem unconventional to shift with a right handed hitter, the Dodgers coaching staff does have a valid argument. In his career, Kemp has 526 hits to left field and only 243 to right field. Statistically speaking, it makes sense for the Dodgers to shift the infield.
So far this season, Kemp has hit the ball to right field only 11 times, compared to 35 hits to left field and 23 to center. He entered Sunday’s game hitting .423/.455/.524 with two doubles and three RBIs against the Dodgers in 22 plate appearances.
Dodgers Blue Diamond Gala