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Key Stats: More than actual statistics, the factor that takes away all worries when drafting a player is a positive trend. Like Evan Longoria, Matt Kemp is trending in the right direction. With only 10 more plate appearances in 2009, Kemp increased his home runs from 18 to 26, his RBI from 76 to 101, and increased his stolen base success rate. He finished the season ranked 13th, but we have to assume he’ll take another step forward in 2010 and crack his way into the top 10.

Skeptics Say: Kemp is probably the most-watched player off the field that doesn’t play for the Yankees. He’s dating Rihanna and has had his issues handling the media. Keeping distraction to a minimum and letting his talent do the talking will be nice since the most likely person to stop himself is himself.

Peer Comparison: Rather than talk about Kemp versus all the outfielders, I thought it would be relevant to look at where Kemp is versus exclusively center fielders and where Chase Utley is versus exclusively second baseman. First a look at Kemp versus the other center fielders based on the projections of Bill James:

Jacoby Ellsbury: -14 HR +7 R -29 RBI -32 SB -.009 AVG
Grady Sizemore: +2 HR +2 R -13 RBI -11 SB -.039 AVG
Jayson Werth: +5 HR -11 R -3 RBI -15 SB -.042 AVG
Curtis Granderson: +4 HR +7 R -15 RBI -15 SB -.036 AVG

Now a look at Utley vs. the second basemen:
Ian Kinsler: -3 HR -5 R -20 RBI +11 SB -.015 AVG
Dustin Pedroia: -15 HR -2 R -29 RBI -1 SB +.017 AVG
Brandon Phillips: -9 HR -26 R -23 RBI + 5 SB -.021 AVG
Robinson Cano: -10 HR -21 R -17 RBI -13 SB +.019 AVG

The bottom line is that both players are first round picks, but Utley is harder to replace in a lineup than Kemp and therefore should be taken ahead of Kemp.
Lineup Outlook: Last year Kemp spent at least 14 games in 6 different spots in the batting order. Not only did he not have the opportunity to get settled, but he didn’t get the opportunity to be a run producer very often. 60% of Kemp’s at bats were in the 6th through 9th spots in the batting order, but this year he is essentially penned into the number two hole in the Dodgers lineup. There’s no way he’ll stay under 100 runs with Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez batting after him. And don’t worry about that slowing him down on the base paths either – Kemp stole only 56% of his bases in those 60% of at-bats in the 6th through 9th spots in the order.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #2 Outfielder; #6 Overall; Yahoo: #2 Outfielder and #6 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #7 Overall; Couch Managers: #7 Overall; FB 365: #2 Outfielder

Projection: Unlike Bill James I believe Kemp will see an increase in power, but a slight decrease in his steals as the Dodgers look to increase the chances of him staying healthy.
106 R 29 HR 85 RBI 31 SB .310 AVG .878 OPS

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