Having astounded us so mostly in their crew moves, a Atlanta Braves have mislaid a ability to shock. We know they’ll trade (almost) anybody, that means we can (almost) never contend never. But here’s one trade that would branch this band:
Shedding Matt Kemp.
The estimable Bob Nightengale of USA Today listed Kemp among 25 MLB players who could shortly be moving. (For a record, Kemp was No. 22 in terms of probability.) I’m not certain I’d put him among a 20 many expected Braves to dealt.
Yes, he’s 32. Yes, they’re rebuilding. Yes, they’re profitable him $19 million of a $21.75 he’s due annually, that creates him their second-biggest outlay, Freddie Freeman being a biggest, and Kemp’s agreement has 2 2/3 years to run. So yes, Kemp fits a form of a arrange of actor a Braves have dumped.
Here’s a difference: Kemp has been unequivocally good, and a Braves unequivocally like him.
He’s fourth in a majors in batting (.345), ninth in slugging commission and 12th in OPS. He’s also 12th in FanGraphs’ wRC+ (weighted runs created, as practiced for ballparks) during 160, that isn’t distant from a 168 he mustered in 2011, when he finished second to Ryan Braun in a MVP voting.
One of a few ball things that challenge even modernized analytics is a value of lineup construction. We can't know for certain what numbers Freeman would have posted had, say, Dansby Swanson been batting one mark after him. We can know this: Freeman’s arise from good hitter to good dovetailed with a attainment of Kemp. “I haven’t had a man like that attack behind me given Justin Upton,” Freeman has said.
We can go even further. The Braves were a terrible descent group for two-thirds of final season. Once Kemp arrived in August, they started attack like crazy. It’s satisfactory to contend that Ender Inciarte’s season-ending leadoff rip wasn’t directly tied to Kemp batting cleanup, though attack can be contagious. (So can not hitting.)
The Braves haven’t scored as most this deteriorate (23rd in a majors in runs) as they did during a handle of final year (sixth-best after a All-Star break), though we always wondered either that was a blip. And they are eighth in a majors in batting normal and seventh in on-base percentage, that means they’re no longer an descent embarrassment.
Back to Kemp: WAR is a magnitude that hasn’t newly been kind to him. (For one thing, he doesn’t travel much, and WAR is large on OBP. For another, he’s not a and baserunner. For nonetheless another, he’s a reduction defender.) Last year Kemp strike 35 homers and gathering in 108 runs and managed an 0.7 FanGraphs WAR. This year he’s during 1.3, that puts him on gait for 4.1, that wouldn’t usually be his best given 2011 (8.3) — it would roughly double his prior 4 seasons total (2.1).
Kemp was deliberate shop-worn goods. He’d declined precipitously as a Dodger and finished subsequent to 0 as a Padre. The Braves knew that. They also knew that they wanted to absolved themselves of Hector Olivera’s agreement and that, detached from Freeman, they had changed few energy hitters underneath contract. They took a chance. They like what they’ve gotten.
Nightengale suggests a Braves would have to assume most of Kemp’s income to make him trade-able, and that’s not something they’d be fervent to do with anyone who has value. Kemp has value. He has had a certain outcome on their major-league product and, it would seem, on Freeman, their biggest asset. It would take a Swanson/Inciarte/Blair package to examine Kemp away, and nobody’s good to make such a understanding for a 32-year-old left fielder.
Put simply, Kemp has come to meant some-more to a Braves than he’s good to meant to anyone else. There are usually 3 big-league Braves that we can call clear keepers — Freeman, Inciarte and Swanson; Julio Teheran competence have slipped from clear to illusive — though Kemp, who was traded twice in 19 1/2 months, has come tighten to digest himself indispensable here.