LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was puzzled by Major League Baseball's decision to suspend him for a game and tag him with an undisclosed fine for his role in a benches-clearing fracas with the Rangers on Wednesday.On Friday, Kemp decided to appeal the league's decision, enabling him to
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was puzzled by Major League Baseball's decision to suspend him for a game and tag him with an undisclosed fine for his role in a benches-clearing fracas with the Rangers on Wednesday.
On Friday, Kemp decided to appeal the league's decision, enabling him to play in Los Angeles' 3-2 win over the Giants later in the evening.
The decision appears to have paid off well, and perhaps more importantly, benefitted his entire squad.
Kemp uncorked a solo home run -- his 11th blast of the year -- off San Francisco starter Derek Holland during the bottom of the fourth inning. Holland tried to spot an 82 mph changeup low in the zone, and Kemp drove it an estimated 410 feet, according to Statcast™, giving Los Angeles a two-run advantage.
A possible suspension didn't loom over Kemp's head as he took the field Friday. Instead, his focus was on how he could contribute to his club while present.
"I wasn't really thinking about [the appeal]," he said. "I was trying to get a team win, and that's what happened."
Prior to the game, when asked about how he would present his appeal to the league, Kemp said he wasn't entirely sure how the process worked.
But what has been clear: Kemp's importance to the Dodgers' offense. Entering Friday, the 33-year-old outfielder ranked third in the National League in batting average (.335), second in slugging (.555) and fifth in on-base plus slugging (.922).
"With Matt, I think he's just continuing to get consistent at-bats and opportunities," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said prior the Friday's game. "He's really taking advantage of that."
While Kemp has been a steady presence throughout the entire season for Los Angeles, the rest of the team's bats appear to have woken up, too. The Dodgers have been on a recent tear offensively, stringing together 32 home runs through 13 games played in June. Kemp alone has tallied four of them, building on what's been a very strong statistical year.
"I've just been trying to have consistent at-bats," Kemp said. "The whole team, we've really had a team power surge. The first month, we weren't doing too well, hitting home runs, but we're starting to heat up a little bit and it feels pretty good."
His steady production has made him a key member of the Dodgers' lineup and bolsters his case to be named an All-Star in 2018. When Major League Baseball released its first All-Star ballot update of the season, Kemp had collected 351,780 votes, which ranked third among National League outfielders.
While a potential third All-Star appearance seems possible, Kemp insists his attitude is driven by a team-first mentality.
"We just try to be consistent," Kemp said, "and just try to put together good at-bats."
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.