One week before being traded to the Oakland A's in January, Tony Kemp just happened to watch a specific baseball movie for the first time.
On a whim.
“My wife was like, ‘We should probably watch Moneyball,' ” Kemp recalled to NBC Sports California on FaceTime last week.
Halfway through the 2011 film documenting Oakland’s unique approach to success, Kemp told his wife, Michelle, he felt like a perfect fit for the franchise.
“The type of player I am, grinder mentality,” Kemp said. “I’ve been overlooked a lot in life, and that’s OK. That provides the chip on the shoulder.”
The timing was impeccable, with no certain knowledge he’d be traded at all, let alone to Oakland.
“After watching that movie and then a week later getting the call I was traded to the A’s, you can’t make stuff up like this.”
Kemp has played 283 MLB games in the last four seasons, most of which were with Houston. He saw a lot of the A’s, starting in 2016.
“Those are the guys that we always feared in the AL West,” Kemp said of the A's. “The division is tough and the A’s were always nipping on our heels in Houston.”
From the outside perceptions to inside reality, Kemp grew even fonder of his new group during a few weeks of spring training in Mesa.
While fighting for the job at second base, he spent a lot of time working to develop chemistry with fellow infielder Marcus Semien.
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“It’s honestly funny, he is what I imagined him to be like in the clubhouse,” Kemp said of Semien. “He’s a leader, but one of those quiet leaders.”
According to simulated stats from baseball-reference.com, Kemp would be hitting .303 through his first 20 games with Oakland as of mid-May.