MILWAUKEE -- Matt Kemp has not provided the immediate impact the Braves might have envisioned. But Freddie Freeman believes Kemp's presence in the middle of the lineup has influenced the success the team has had since acquiring the former All-Star outfielder from the Padres on July 30.
"We were playing good baseball, and then Matt came, and I think the excitement around this team picked up a little bit more," Freeman said. "Our lineup is longer, and we've been playing great. He's definitely a force in the middle of that lineup. It creates some fear, and everybody kind of feeds of each other's success."
After starting nine consecutive games since joining the Braves, Kemp was was not in the lineup for Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Brewers, but he flied out when he pinch-hit during the eighth inning of an 11-3 loss. The 32-year-old outfielder has batted .200, collected three extra-base hits (two doubles and a homer) and compiled a .618 OPS through his first 41 plate appearances for Atlanta.
Though Kemp's days of producing MVP-caliber statistics are likely complete, he arrived in Atlanta having hit .296 with 10 home runs and a .846 OPS over his final 48 games (213 plate appearances) with the Padres.
Kemp's presence has enabled Braves manager Brian Snitker to place a right-handed power hitter between the two left-handers (Freeman and Nick Markakis) in the middle of his lineup.
Once he was given the protection he has lacked most of the past two seasons, Freeman went 1-for-16 with 11 strikeouts during the first four games he played with Kemp batting behind him. But the Braves' first baseman has recorded a pair of three-hit games (including Wednesday's two-homer performance) and has struck out just twice in the 17 at-bats that have followed that slump.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.