Trade Deadline Quick Hits: Kemp, Denorfia, Carp

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== Any bats worth getting? ==

I’m bumping this post in light of the Denorfia acquisition. 

This weekend didn’t end up being a good one for posting.  So we’re a bit behind the curve.  But since nothing happened, we’re not that far behind.

===

Matt Kemp

Kemp is now officially off the table.

Reports are that Matt Kemp is a “backup plan” for the Mariners.  That’s odd, since he’s a long-term commitment owed a lot of money.

But!  It’s reassuring that there is a plan. 

Unless the plan is keeping Nick Franklin in AAA until age 30.

Moving on …

Our numbers indicate that Kemp had two seasons in which his HR-per-fly-ball rates were well above normal (2011 and 2012) and that the rest of his career is pretty pedestrian.  It’s not like a 15% HR/FB rate is preposterous for a power hitter, but those guys who can do it (Giancarlo Stanton; Jose Bautista) are able to sustain it.  Kemp did it for two years, signed his huge deal and then stopped doing it.

Major red flag.

It’s true that in 9 games since the All-Star break he’s OPS’ing over .900.  But in the 11 games prior to the ASB, he was OPS’ing under .550.  So his July as a whole is a wash.

Hittracker says Kemp has yet to hit a “no doubt” homer this year.  His “true distance” for his homers is under 400′ for the first time in his career, and the “speed off the bat” of his homers is down as well.

Kemp looks like a slightly-above-average player who will cost a lot more than one.

===

Chris Denorfia

Denorfia was acquired for Abe Almonte and Stephen Kohlscheen.

Denorfia is the opposite of Kemp in that his contract is up at the end of the season, and he doesn’t cost much.  And he could be had for not a lot of prospect cost.

He’s got pretty good plate skills, as up until this year he’s run a below-average K-rate and about-average BB-rate.  His K-rate has climbed this year, but it looks like there’s a reason.  His HR-per-fly-ball rate has cratered.  His career rate has been 6.1% and this year it’s 1.3%.

There’s usually quite a bit of random variation to that stat, but it also appears that Denorfia is not hitting ball as hard this year.

It’s very common for guys to have a stat with a random element (BABIP or HR/FB) drop off, and then try to “compensate” — not by continuing to do what brought them success in the past — but by being more aggressive and less selective at the plate.  Indeed, Denorfia’s 2014 “O-Swing” rate (rate of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone) is a full three points higher than his career average (28% vs. 25%).

As a result, his best attribute (a below-average K-rate) is not there this year.

Is that HR/FB likely to recover in a couple of months in Seattle?  Not likely.

Does Denorfia have any value without the strong-plate-skills-with-decent-pop profile?  Not really.

===

Mike Carp

No further buzz about Carp.  Just ended up being something to noodle about.

No one’s really talking about bringing back Carp except me.   But he’s available and cheap and he can hit, and the M’s need guys who can hit.

True, there are plenty of options for 1b/DH types, but Carp can play in the outfield without too much embarrassment, and, unlike Denorfia, he can actually put a charge into the ball.

Carp is without a homer in 2014, but he hasn’t had much chance to get in a groove.  Again, unlike Denorfia, I would expect his HR/FB to recover somewhat.

I doubt it will happen, but it’s interesting to contemplate.

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