Matt Kemp hit another home run in the Padres victory last night, bringing his total so far on the young season to 7. That is good news for Padres fans, as typically Matt Kemp does not find his power stroke until much later in the season. Last season he hit just 1 home run in April and 0 home runs in May. In fact, if you look at a 3 year span (2013-2015) he totaled just 8 home runs during April and May during all three of those seasons, so to say that he is hitting at a higher pace is an understatement.
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Last night’s home run was a big one too, breaking a tie and at his old home Dodger Stadium in the top of the 8th inning no less. Last year at this time he already had a couple of triples, foreshadowing his cycle that was to come later in the year, but the Padres are happy to see him hitting home runs that count. Kemp was happy to give his team a victory and admitted it was extra special doing it against the Dodgers:
“I think anybody would [get extra satisfaction] playing against their old team, somewhere where they’d been so long. Honestly, I just felt like we needed that win as a team. That’s the most important thing.”
The All Star Game is of course in San Diego this season, and Kemp is doing what he can make his presence known. He is currently tied for 6th in the National League for home runs though of the top 8 in home runs, three are right-fielders in Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton. Interestingly enough, there is only one other outfielder in the bunch in Yoenis Cespedes. Two Rockies players are at the top with last year’s co-champion Nolan Arenado and newcomer Trevor Story at 10 on the season.
Kemp also only has two walks on the season, which is a little concerning but as he is settled into the 3 spot in the order the he is getting RBI opportunities with Jon Jay and Wil Myers hitting well in front of him and Melvin Upton Jr.holding down the clean-up spot.
Kemp’s career high for home runs was 39 in 2011, but his second best year in dingers was actually the previous year at 28. That number is still a long way off, but it does seem better to start strong than to bank on a strong second half again. If he keep this pace up AND have a strong second half, who knows how far he can go this season. It’s something worth keeping an eye on as the Padres aim to see what progress they can bring with them into the balance of 2016 and look ahead to 2017.