Matt Kemp, Cincinnati Reds
Following an active offseason, the Reds were a contender to be on this list as a unit, but we decided to just highlight what Kemp has done with his new squad thus far.
The veteran outfielder has posted a 31.1% strikeout rate and is one of just two players with 40-plus plate appearances without a walk yet in ’19. Coincidentally enough, the other player is his teammate, Jose Peraza. That leaves plenty of opportunities for Kemp to put the ball in play, but it’s resulted in a .200/.200/.289 triple slash with one homer, four RBI, and three runs scored through 45 plate appearances. This performance has led to a 20 wRC+ and -0.5 fWAR.
He’s making a lot less contact overall (60.0% rate so far in ’19, 72.6% in ’18), and it’s also come with a lot more swinging. Kemp’s swing rate on strikes has gone down slightly, but is still sitting at 71.6%. His chase rate, though, is back up at 43.8% after getting down to 34.3% last year (his lowest since 2014).
This is unfortunate for the Reds because the first half has been when Kemp does most of his damage in recent years. In 2017, he posted a 111 wRC+ in the first half, followed by a 72 wRC+ in the second half. In 2018, his wRC+ got up to 137 prior to the All-Star break before dipping down to 97 after the midsummer classic.