Despite Kemp's post-June struggles and questions surrounding his playing time entering 2007, savvy fantasy baseball owners knew the level of talent they were witnessing and jumped on it. In casual leagues, Kemp largely went undrafted; however in the deeper keeper leagues that many ProjectProspect.com readers are participants in, Kemp’s abilities were known all too well. While ProjectProspect.com was not yet created to begin the 2006 season, Baseball America had Kemp ranked 96th overall entering the season’s play – so his talents were definitely known. ProjectProspect.com did rank Kemp 40th overall in its Top 150 Under 25 list last March, which is quite a statement! And as usual, the boys at PP appear right in line with their prediction.
For those leagues following prospect rankings, Kemp was long gone come 2007. But for owners who were able to acquire him in some fashion, he did nothing to disappoint this year. Now we're left drooling to see what he can do in 2008, likely his first full season of play.
Kemp posted a spectacular half-season line of .342 / 10 / 42 / 47 / 10 with an OPS of .894 in 2007 (292 at-bats). Throw in a LD% of 19% - which was uncharacteristically low for Kemp – and a GB% of 46% - which is getting better each year – and you have yourself one of the best candidate in the entire major leagues for a production breakout in 2008.
Assuming Kemp continues to increase his metrics across the board - and he has yet to give any reason he won’t - it is safe to expect a full-season line of .330 / 25 / 97 / 108 / 20 from this young yet mature hitter. Add in the fact that he should be benefited by a improved Dodgers offense next season - will likely include full seasons from James Loney, Andy LaRoche, and Delwyn Young - and you have yourself another reason to expect a breakout from Kemp.
So where does Kemp’s value fall in Roto and keeper leagues? If you are in a keeper league, then you already well know just how valuable this kid can be. While many teams benefited from Kemp’s centerfield and rightfield eligibilities this season, he will enter 2008 with only having the latter position available to owners. Given his talents and age, this should have no effect on his fantasy value.
In Roto leagues, Kemp really has few equals if any. The closest player in regards to year-end production from an outfielder would be a still-in-prime version of Bobby Abreu; however, even that comparison has its major flaws. Kemp is one of the few 5-tool rightfielders in baseball. You should have no fear in asking Kemp to anchor your outfield. His value shouldn't be passed up if he's still available in round four.
If you get that tingling sensation in the hairs on the back of your neck telling you that someone is going to grab him in round three, don't fear beating them to the punch. (Yes, he is that good and will produce for you in every category available.)
In keeper leagues, he is long gone from the waiver-wire. That should not hinder your efforts in attempting to obtain him, however. He is a player who will provide a much needed offensive foundation for your club for the next 10+ years. There's little that you can do to overspend for him via trade.
Points-based leagues could see Kemp finish out 2008 as high as a top-five rightfielder, fitting nicely in the production range of Vladimir Guerrero and Alex Rios. Overall, that would place Kemp well inside the Top 30 overall offensive players and just inside the Top 50 amongst all players.
My best suggestion for you is to trade a highly touted prospect or draft picks for him. Even ‘elite’ prospects often fail but I expect Kemp will soon show that he will be having nothing but long-term success in the majors.
It is safe to say that Matt Kemp’s time is now, so pull out every trick up your sleeve in order to acquire this soon-to-be fantasy baseball monster.
Brandon Taylor Charpied can be reached at BTCharpied@projectprospect.com.