There is nothing more coveted in fantasy baseball than a five-tool player, one who can fill up the stat sheet in several categories and benefit a fantasy team day in and day out. When hearing the term, most people think of explosive up and comer Mike Trout, or others like Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Upton. All have proven themselves assets when it comes to not only home runs and RBI, but steals and runs as well. However, the best five tool player in the game today isn’t Trout or Braun, Upton or Gonzalez. It’s Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp. Here’s why.
In 2011, Kemp was as dynamic and prolific as any player in baseball. In fact, he was more dynamic and prolific than any player in baseball. When the dust of the 2011 season had all but settled, he topped the player rater across the board, making him the best player in fantasy for the 2011 campaign. However, 2012 proved to be a different story.
Kemp ran into hamstring issues in 2012 that severely hindered his production and essentially cost him an entire season. He injured it for the first time early in the season, only to return and re-aggravate the injury in his first game back. In the end, the Dodgers outfielder missed almost a third of the season with hamstring woes, but still managed a .303/.367/.538 line with 23 home runs, 69 RBI and nine steals–and he did that in barely over 100 games.
In other words, Kemp is still the best player in fantasy baseball.
Before the hamstring injury struck last season, there were whispers of the triple crown with Kemp. There still are. With the hamstring problems behind him, there is not a five-tool player in baseball better than Kemp. Not Trout, not Upton, not Braun, not anyone. Kemp proved that in 2011, and he would have proved it in 2012 had he been given the chance.
With a string of great seasons on his resume and a Dodgers lineup that may be the best in the league batting around him, Kemp has every reason to explode in 2013 and possibly beat his career bests. He’s projected to bat in the three-spot for the Dodgers, right behind speedster Carl Crawford. This means his chances to rack up RBI will high and with Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier right behind him, the runs and steals will be more plentiful than ever. He’s better than Braun. He’s better than Miguel Cabrera. He’s better than all of them.
At the very least, Kemp is good for a .300 average, 30 home runs and 100 RBI to go along with 20 to 30 steals as well. If he can avoid injury and flourish in the high-powered Dodgers lineup, his stats could rise to 40 home runs, 130 RBI and 30+ steals. That might be an underestimate of what he’s capable of.
When it’s all said and done, there aren’t many players in baseball as sure of a bet as Kemp. In fact, there aren’t any at all. With the hamstring problems a thing of the past, Kemp has the ability to best Braun and Cabrera with ease if he can avoid the DL. He’s that good, and he’s entering into his prime on an explosive team with World Series aspirations.
The stage is set. Everything is in place. Kemp will explode in 2013 for fantasy baseball owners. He should be drafted accordingly.
Follow Matt Schumacher on Twitter at m_Schumacher for fantasy baseball news and updates.