Matt Kemp was activated off the disabled list yesterday, and he ended up striking out with the game on the line in his first plate appearance.
This led to a bunch of enraged idiots blaming Kemp for everything, but for us back in the realm of things that actually matter to reasonable people, there was a noticeable change in his stance.
Did Kemp purposely change his batting stance or is this a response to the shoulder injury?
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) September 17, 2013
Looks weird. @ChadMoriyama
— Greg Sanders (@DodgerReport) September 17, 2013
@ChadMoriyama he did not look like that at Rancho. Must have changed his stance in AZ.
— Stacie Wheeler (@organicallyrude) September 17, 2013
Just a small sampling, but a lot of people brought it up.
I decided to take a look at it, and I found that the difference wasn’t as pronounced as we thought in real time, but it’s certainly a noticeable shift.
The first image is from the last game he played before hitting the DL. The second image is from yesterday after he got off the DL.
Many thought he was crouching, but it’s actually not that at all. Kemp’s actually more upright but now he’s bending over at the waist further.
In the before image he’s arching his back a bit, but in the image from yesterday he’s relying on a lean from the waist to get his plate coverage. Also of note is that he’s dropped his left shoulder/arm and raised his right shoulder to give him a more downward looking plane.
Not much difference here at max leg lift except for the previously mentioned increased downward plane of his shoulders. The angle of attack has shifted, which could have an impact on his swing path.
Both of these caps are from pitches that end up inside, but he actually pulled out with his lead shoulder less yesterday than he did before. Given that I previously identified that as an issue of his, perhaps dropping his lead shoulder is a way to combat it…
…or it could be nothing.
I can’t emphasize this enough, but one plate appearance means nothing. However, it’s still interesting to think about and monitor going forward. Also, remember that any changes from how he was swinging since he last had a plate appearance could be a negative since he was actually hitting a ton between getting hurt.
Given the smallest of sample sizes, there’s no mechanical fix or analysis here, just an observation and pure speculation on what appeared to be a change to his setup. While it might not mean much, I figured anything’s more relevant to his actual performance than ranting at him and calling him names on social media.