We all knew what Tony Kemp was. The left handed hitting utility man was a platoon piece for the Oakland A’s, someone that could play in a variety of spots defensively, but would be exposed with regular playing time. That is what Kemp had been throughout his career, and that continued into this season.
However, Kemp has been different lately. His bat has caught fire, even with regular playing time. Suddenly, he has gone from being a decent bench piece to a key part of the A’s lineup.
Tony Kemp playing his way into expanded role
Over his last 32 games, spanning 119 plate appearances, Kemp has produced a strong .312/.422/.548 batting line, hitting four homers and six doubles; he had only two doubles as his only extra base hits before that time. Amazingly, Kemp only has one stolen base in that time despite his excellent production.
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This hot streak is coming at the perfect time. The A’s are missing both Stephen Piscotty and Mark Canha, giving Kemp the chance at playing time in both corner outfield positions. He could also slide over the center, moving Ramon Laureano to right where he has also displayed Gold Glove caliber defense.
Kemp could also get more playing time at second as the season goes on. Jed Lowrie had been one of the great stories over the first month of the year, but has since fallen back to earth. Kemp could easily get more playing time there as well, especially as the A’s look to get Lowrie more rest down the stretch.
He has had his hot stretches before. There have been times where Kemp appeared to be a starting caliber player only to revert to form. Until that happens, the A’s need to ride this hot streak for as long as it will go, especially as they have struggled over the past few games.
Tony Kemp has been on fire with the lumber over the past month. The Oakland A’s utility man is playing his way into an expanded role.