Wednesday, July 1, 2015

So far, the Dodgers are winning the Kemp-Grandal deal

Back on December 11, the Dodgers and Padres pulled the trigger on a deal centered around Matt Kemp and Yasmani Grandal.  It had been discussed for awhile, and when it finally happened, it was the end of an era for Kemp in LA.

It seemed like Dodger fans were split right down the middle on this.  Those who liked the trade pointed out how Kemp was often injured, on the downside of his career, and that Grandal was a huge upgrade over A.J. Ellis.  Those who didn't like it pointed to Kemp's second half success in 2014, and that at long last he looked healthy again.

Here we are a couple of games from exactly the midway point, and a couple weeks from the All-Star Game, and the Dodgers are in first place at 44-35, while the Padres are still struggling at 37-42.

So who got the better of the deal?  Sorry, Padre fans, but it's the Dodgers.

Let's look at their offensive stats:

Grandal: 59 games, .269 AVG, .380 OBP, 8 2B, 12 HR, 31 RBI, 1.1 WAR
Kemp: 78 games, .247 AVG, .283 OBP, 16 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 7 SB, -0.2 WAR

While Kemp has more RBIs and steals, Grandal is leading in the home run department, and has a sky high OBP compared to Kemp.  Also, you have to remember that Kemp gets nearly all of his at-bats in the third or fourth slot, leading to more chances to drive in runs (he recently has started hitting leadoff thanks to his lack of power).  Grandal mostly hits anywhere between 5-7.  Big difference.

The other big difference is the reason why each guy was swapped in the first place.  The Padres were looking to make a splash on offense after years of futility, bringing in guys like Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, and Kemp.  Upton has certainly done his part, leading the Padres in practically every offensive category, including steals.  Norris has 20 doubles and 11 homers.  Myers has been hurt, so it's hard to judge him.  Kemp, however, has not found his power stroke at all.  That's been disappointing.

Grandal had a bit of an advantage when his numbers are compared to Ellis's.  OK, he has a HUGE advantage, especially since Ellis hit .191 with three homers and 25 RBIs last year.  That's almost comically bad.  Well actually, he's at .171, no homers, and three RBIs this year.  He's somehow topped his own futility.

Anyway, Grandal has been a big uplift regardless of how pitiful Ellis has been.  Take last night's 6-4 win over the Diamondbacks.  He hit a two-run homer to start the scoring in the second (two straight games with a homer for him), then added on insurance in the 10th with a two-run double, which were runs the Dodgers needed for the win.  At a time when the Dodgers are struggling to score, his seven homers is tied with Joc Pederson for tops in June.

Defensively, I don't think either guy will be confused with Bryce Harper or Yadier Molina.  Kemp is no longer even allowed to touch center field, instead patrolling right all season long.  Grandal has long been described as not the greatest defensive catcher, but a great pitch framer.  So there's that.

Grandal's Defensive WAR is -0.5, and Kemp's -0.8.  Neither is good, but Grandal's rates just a bit better.

To sum it up, the Dodgers have to be thrilled with what they've gotten out of Grandal thus far.  He's brought plenty of pop at the plate, and has thankfully yanked all sorts of playing time away from Ellis.  To be fair to Kemp, he might have another second half breakout in him like he did last year for the Dodgers, so we'll wait and see.  But it sure has been fun not to have to deal with the outfield drama that plagued the Dodgers last year.

Advantage: Grandal.

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