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Matt Kemp Makes Strong Case for Starting Nod

Plagued by injuries and defensive struggles with the Dodgers, Matt Kemp was traded to the division rival San Diego Padres following the 2014 season. After spending a season and a half each with the Padres and Atlanta Braves, he is now back in a Dodger uniform, and playing better than ever.

This Spring, Kemp has slashed .379/.419/.862 with 4 home runs in 29 at-bats. He has also seen the most starts in Left Field of any other Dodger so far. So what does this all mean? Well, Left Field currently remains unoccupied by an every day starter. It is likely going to be a platoon situation with Kemp, Kike Hernandez, Joc Pederson, and Andrew Toles all competing for playing time.

Pederson's continued offensive struggles and the fact that Toles hasn't played in almost a year while recovering from a torn ACL could very well factor into the matter. Hernandez remains a reliable option, however as the go-to utility man in the Dodger lineup he will likely be asked to spot start at many different positions as the season progresses. While Hernandez may hold the edge defensively, Kemp's offensive production will make it hard to keep his bat out of the lineup, should it continue at the current rate.

Perhaps equally as important as his numbers is his clubhouse presence. Kemp is now a veteran among a plethora of young players such as Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Austin Barnes. Few other players in the league can offer advice on coming up as a young MLB star in Los Angeles like Kemp can. He also has plenty of postseason experience with the Dodgers, putting him in a great position to assume a leadership role in the clubhouse this year.

Whether he ends up an every day starter not, Kemp has shown that he has the potential to make significant contributions to the Dodger's star-studded lineup. Keep an eye out, and don't be surprised to see him take the field come March 29th.