Acquired in the offseason for minor leaguer Alfonso Rivas, Tony Kemp could also fill a utility role for the Oakland Athletics. However, during spring training action, he had received the majority of the action at the keystone with the rest of the projected starters.
Kemp has done his part to show that this is the correct decision. He has produced a .345/.412/.483 batting line in 34 plate appearances, hitting a double, a homer, and stealing a base while drawing four walks.
Just two years ago, Kemp looked like a possible super utility player for the Astros, posting a 105 OPS+ while showing solid power and speed. He had played all three outfield positions in addition to seeing time at second. However, he struggled last year, leading to his being sent to the Cubs for Martin Maldonado. Kemp struggled even more in Chicago, and was potentially on the roster bubble before his trade to Oakland.
That is not to say that Kemp has been overly successful in the majors. He has produced a combined .233/.314/.367 batting line, hitting 29 doubles and 15 homers while stealing 16 bases. Kemp has displayed a solid batting eye and contact skills, with 70 walks and just 123 strikeouts in 749 plate appearances.
Of all the candidates for the second base job, Tony Kemp’s spot on the Oakland Athletics appears most secure, given his ability to play all three outfield positions as well. If he continues to be a hot bat when spring training resumes, he may be, at worst, part of a platoon at second.