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In a post reacting to Jayson Werth’s appointment to the NL all-star team, ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer says, “based on performance, Matt Kemp would have been a significantly better choice.”

And of course, Rob, you’re entitled to your opinion. But I’d like a little bit more explanation, because I just don’t see it. I mean, I see that Kemp is deserving (he’s far more deserving than Ryan Howard, in my opinion). But I don’t think he’s significantly better than Werth.

Sure, Kemp hits for better average, but Werth has twice as many homers. Kemp’s OPS+ is 131. Werth’s is 132. Both guys have lopsided platoon splits. Both steal the occasinoal base.

I get that Kemp plays center field, and that’s no small detail. But it’s not like Werth is a defensive slouch. In fact, he played a lot of CF last season while Victorino was on the DL, and his 2008 ultimate zone rating was 21.5. Kemp’s UZR in 2008? -0.1 (though he’s at 10.1 so far this season).

So, I just don’t see the big difference.

Maybe you were just a little grumpy when you heard about this (and really who could blame you?). Or maybe I’m missing something. Wouldn’t be the first time.

5 Responses to “Is Kemp significantly better than Werth?”

  1. Nick Kapur says:

    It’s all about positional scarcity, Coley. Kemp plays centerfield, and he plays it extremely well.

    As you point out, they are essentially equal on offense, but Kemp has been absolutely fantabulous on defense. He is young and still improving on defense, but I think the improvement this year is real. He consistently gets to balls that no one else gets too and makes it look easy. He still occasionally gets confused by balls hit right at him, but the rest of the time he gets unbelievable jumps.

    According to Fangraphs, Werth has been already worth $12.5 million so far this year, but Kemp has been worth a ridiculous $18.2 million.

  2. Significantly better so far this year? Probably yeah. Significantly better skill wise? No, it’s close.

    Both deserve to be on over Victorinio and about 5 others, including Hudson.

  3. Nick Kapur says:

    Yeah, I’m actually not sorry Werth got in. I still like him from his days as a Dodger, and he is deserving. Howard and Victorino were much more egregious picks.

  4. And we can only blame Manuel for Howard, since Victorino was voted in by the fans.

  5. Fans are stupid.

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