Kemp hoping swing adjustments lead to ‘complete' season


The 2022 MLB season was sort of a Jekyll and Hyde-type campaign for Athletics veteran utilityman Tony Kemp. 

After an abysmal start in the first half, the 31-year-old turned his season around with a strong finish in the months of August, September and early October. 

Kemp slashed .203/.282/.264 with two home runs and 14 RBI in 85 first-half games. However, in the second half, Kemp hit .278/.342/.426 with five home runs and 32 RBI in 62 games to close out the season. 

Likely to sit atop the A's lineup this season, Kemp knows just how important it is for him to get on base. 

“If the leadoff hitter can get on base twice a game, you give your team that much better of a chance to win,” Kemp told reporters at the team's spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz. (H/T The San Francisco Chronicle's Matt Kawahara)

After his slow start last season, Kemp used his time off during the All-Star break to study video of his swing and returned to the team with ideas on how to improve. 

“Everything in the cage, I completely threw out the window,” Kemp said.

“When I was striding, I could get off my back side and my hands would fire down into the hitting zone, which I wanted,” Kemp said. “I started to create that backspin, do things I really wanted to do. I was able to really focus on working on the top part of the baseball. I’m not going to say I had a hard time with [four-seamers], but I had a better opportunity to succeed with how I was working.”

A's manager Mark Kotsay certainly noticed the difference last summer and hopes to rely on Kemp as a consistent bat in the lineup this season. 

“He turned his season around last year,” Kotsay added. “My hope is that he solidifies that spot and you can just write in the name every day.”

RELATED: Kotsay: A's starting center-field job 'not an easy decision'

Kemp's second-half numbers in 2022 were similar to the career-best averages he posted in 2021, in which he slashed .279/.382/.418 across 131 games for Oakland two years ago. Kemp hopes to have that same level of success throughout the entire 2023 season. 

“The stuff I did in 2021, that’s what I kind of felt like I was recreating in that second half,” Kemp explained. “Hopefully this year I can put it all together and have a complete season.”

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