Kemp's Goal: Padres in the Playoffs

San Diego outfielder thinks his team can surprise in 2016

In 2015 Padres outfielder Matt Kemp led the team in hits, total bases and RBI and was second in OPS and home runs … and by most accounts he had a bad season.

Despite driving in 100 runs, Kemp was not the player the Padres were hoping they’d gotten when they swung the blockbuster trade to land him before the season. Kemp’s on-base percentage plummeted and his outfield defense was, at best, sub-par. The disappointment probably cuts deeper than it should because of all the hype that was heaped upon the team after the Great Experiment of 2015.

Kemp did not live up to expectations. Really nobody on the roster did. So this year the Friars … and Kemp … are flying under the radar. Matt has no problem with that at all.

“I think we like being the underdog,” said Kemp. “Especially me. I’ve been the underdog a lot in seasons past and you feed off of that.”

Kemp’s injury history has put him in the position where he has, indeed, been overlooked in recent years even though he possesses immense natural ability. It’s because of that history that the now-31-year-old altered his off-season conditioning program a bit this year.

“I think as you get older you switch it up a little bit,” said Kemp. “You don’t do as much pounding as you used to when you were younger. Just kind of work on mobility, flexibility, and try to be as loose and in shape as you can possibly be.”

If he’s able to stay healthy and return to being the MVP candidate he was just three years ago, the Padres hope to fulfill the goal he has set for the team in 2016.

“Just play hard and in the end be in the mix and possibly make the playoffs.”

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