Computers vs. Scout: Matt Kemp

For more than a decade, fans, media members and team executives have been divided about how best to analyze a baseball player’s talents. Do the numbers tell the tale or are physical tools better predictors of future success?

Whom to trust, a computer or a scout? By now, every team in the major leagues blends both approaches. So, we thought we’d try to give a fuller picture of what to expect from some of the Dodgers’ key players this season by surveying a veteran scout who covers the Dodgers regularly, and then assembling two of the better-known computer projection systems, ZiPS and Bill James.

First up: Matt Kemp (Next: Clayton Kershaw)

ZiPS: .291, .362 OBP, .531 SLG, 30 home runs, 101 RBIs, 20 stolen bases

James: .298, .363, .521, 31 home runs, 103 RBIs, 21 stolen bases

Scout: .310, 35 home runs, 112 RBIs, 20 stolen bases

Whether you prefer sunglasses and a radar gun or a mouse and a laptop, Kemp looks like pretty much the same guy. Of the seven players we looked at, he inspired easily the most agreement between the computers and the scout.

Scout's take:

I know he just had shoulder surgery, but even if you take away a grade of power, he’s still got well above-average power. He still can hit. It’s hard to imagine him not putting up superstar numbers. As a defender, I’ve never thought he was playing his true position. He’s just fair, at best, in center. But by putting him in center, what are you getting in the corners? Are you getting an extra 30 or 40 more runs on the field offensively, compared to the 20 or 30 you’re giving up by having a less-than-great defender in center? With both Kemp and [Andre] Ethier, you don’t hear, “Gold Glove defender,” very often any more. I’ve never made a report where I’ve written that on either of them.

Consensus: Superstar numbers.