Joe Sheehan on Matt Kemp

By Jason Wojciechowski on July 5, 2011 at 10:00 AM

This weekend, the Joe Sheehan Newsletter contained this sentence:

In the final week of voting, conducted exclusively online, players such as Alex Avila and Matt Kemp -- whose claim to being All-Stars pretty much dates to Opening Day -- were able to leverage big seasons to push themselves into the game's starting lineup.

Link (to the website, where you can subscribe, read excerpts, etc.).

Is Matt Kemp, who is hitting .324/.409/.611 this season, really just a first-half phenomenon? Matt Kemp who had 5.1 fWAR in 2009 and 3.5 in 2008? Kemp fell apart in 2010, but if we figure that his fielding was probably more like the -9 that FRAA awards him or the -15 from DRS or the -1 from Total Zone instead of the incredible -25 that UZR spits out, then he was still somewhere between a just-below-average player and a just-above-average one instead of the horrifying barely-above-replacement player you see if you're only looking at his Fangraphs Dashboard.

What does Kemp's career look like if you look at it that way? A rookie season where the bat wasn't off the ground yet (.289 OBP), a very good second year in under 100 games (131 wRC+), a well-above-average 2008, an excellent 2009 (down-ballot MVP candidate-type season), an average 2010, and a completely stellar 2011, Kemp's age-26 season. That looks like the trajectory of a guy who could be a superstar for the next six years, and a completely deserving 2011 All-Star, not a first-half-wonder who suddenly started hitting and got elected by a set of fans who have already forgotten the rest of Kemp's history.