A Baltimore Orioles Lineup With Matt Kemp


Oct 6, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Matt Kemp (27) looks on before game three of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles can now close the door on the one-year era of Nelson Cruz – a loss that I wrote about yesterday as less damaging than many think. I even predicted that the sun would come up today, and it did! Yes, yes, it is behind the clouds; but technically speaking it is up!

So where do the Orioles go from here? This would seem to increase the likelihood of a Nick Markakis re-signing, but everyone thought that would have happened by now. And there are more than a few baseball people out there beginning to indicate that this just might not get done, including today’s report in the Baltimore Sun. Hard to believe!

But if Markakis is not secured, who could be gotten to play right field?  With reports that Torii Hunter might be an option and that there is indication of talks and interest having been pursued, as I wrote a couple of days ago, that seems like a viable and affordable option.

However, there have also been some Matt Kemp rumors and rumblings, particularly fueled by this tweet on Sunday by Ken Rosenthal …

The Los Angeles Dodgers have an abundance of outfielders, making Kemp possibly available – a thought unimaginable just a few years ago.

The Hollywood crowd is in need of some more pitching. Could there be a way to “help them out” with Ubaldo Jimenez?  I’m not sure they’re jazzed about that; probably they want a young pitcher like Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.

Where’s Eduardo Rodriguez when you need him? Oh, right, yes … already used that bullet.

So, I don’t know how to make the dollars work ($21.5 million a year) and what would need to be given for Matt Kemp to come to the Baltimore Orioles. But in any event, it would not involve one of the position players. So what might an Orioles lineup look like with Kemp in it (and Markakis gone)?

Kemp, who turned age 30 in September, was one of the premier players in the game just three years ago. In 2011, he hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs. But a series of injuries has led to three seasons of inconsistent results.

However, in the second half of 2014, Kemp appeared to have returned to more of the player remembered from the past. In 75 games from July 1st through the end of the season, he hit .298 with an OBP of .358 and 17 home runs (25 for the whole season).

We tend to think of Kemp as a center fielder, where indeed he has played about 75% of his career games (with Gold Gloves in 2009 and 2011). But in 2014, he played 59 games in right field, 44 games in left field, and only 41 in center.

So, let’s put him in right field with Alejandro De Aza in left field and Steve Pearce as DH. Here is a lineup …

Alejandro De Aza – LF

Manny Machado – 3B

Matt Kemp – RF

Adam Jones – LF

Chris Davis – 1B

Steve Pearce – DH

Matt Wieters – C

J.J. Hardy – SS

Jonathan Schoop – 2B

That is a rather potent-looking lineup. And it could work well against right handers. A problem though would be going against left-handed pitching. De Aza has a lot of trouble there, hitting only .138 in 2014. However, his career average is .247 against LHP.

There really is not a right-handed hitting outfield option to platoon and bat leadoff. Indeed, without De Aza (or his similarly-skilled twin David Lough) there is no real leadoff type of hitter on the Orioles.

An option could be to put Kemp there, given his high lifetime OBP. Then move everyone else in the lineup after Machado up one place, and dump De Aza or Lough into the eighth or ninth spot.

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Factor in the newly-acquired Alex Hassan and the rising status of Dariel Alvarez, and one can see that there are a lot of moving parts.

It is difficult to imagine this actually happening with Matt Kemp, but it would make the Baltimore Orioles into a more fearsome team than the mere re-signing of Markakis (though doing both would be pretty cool).