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There has not been much good news coming from the Dodgers, but Matt Kemp has still been able to put up MVP type numbers despite all the drama that surrounds the team. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Matt Kemp continues to post MVP numbers for dismal Dodgers while Jered Weaver’s arm keeps the Angels in contention.By Michael Brown, Sentinel Sports WriterDodgers Climb out of NL West CellarAnd that’s saying something. Yes, the Dodgers needed a four-game win streak, including a sweep against the lowly Padres, to keep from entering the All-Star break pulling up the National League West Division’s rear.It’s been that kind of year. Indeed, sitting at third-place (41-51 overall) is probably the most positive thing that’s transpired for the Dodgers this season collectively.Sure, Matt Kemp’s having a monstrous season (more on him later), but overall from the front office woes to the dreadful play in the field, “Blue Heaven” at Chavez Ravine has become a hellish place for fans and players alike.You knew it was a bad omen when a Giants fan was nearly beaten to death after the opening day game.From there, it’s been all downhill. Injuries, free agents busts and the whole Frank McCourt drama has derailed any potential for a successful season.Despite the injuries in the bullpen, the starting pitching has performed admirably. Clayton Kershaw has developed into an ace, anchoring a staff whose ERA is under four.However, that’s where the good news ends and where the lackluster lineup enters. The Dodgers rank in the lower tier in nearly all National League categories in batting.Kemp and Andre Ethier are the only batters in Los Angeles’ lineup who strike fear in opposing pitchers.Kemp is not only having an extraordinary comeback season after last year’s struggles, but may challenge for the Triple Crown.In fact, Kemp and the Dodgers’ fortunes have mirrored each other. Kemp began the season on fire and has followed through for the past several months while the team stumbled out of the blocks and has yet to recover.Kemp’s leads the team and ranks among the National League leaders in batting average (.313); home runs (22); runs batted in (67) and stolen bases (27).True, Kemp was terrible during Monday’s home run contest, but that’s been the only blemish on his resume. Kemp’s the poster boy for being a “five-tool” player and it’s been a sight to see as he’s hustled and excelled on a team clearly going nowhere.What does the second half of the season portend? I don’t know. Likely, more sub .500 play. Overall, the team and franchise seem to be in limbo.Bud Selig has all but given McCourt the boot, but ol’ Frank hasn’t got the message. McCourt has vowed to go the litigation route to try to reclaim ownership of the team.At this point, until the off-field soap opera is resolved, Dodgers fans shouldn’t expect this team to acquire any impact players via trade.Young Contributors, Key to Angels chances at ContentionShudders probably went through members of the Angels’ clubhouse, front office and fans when they found out first baseman Kendry Morales would miss his second consecutive season with an injury.Morales anchored the Angels’ lineup two year ago, but has not been heard from since suffering career threatening injuries.But the Angels, who are 50-42, overall and sit in second-place in the American League West Division, have gone back to a reliable source: the farm system.Morales was a product of the Angels system and so is Mark Trumbo, a rookie who leads the team in home runs with 17.Make no mistake about it though, if the Angels win their division, it will be due to pitching, not hitting.The team’s 3.26 ERA is third best in the American League. Jered Weaver has developed into arguably the game’s best pitcher.Weaver (11-4 record, 1.86 ERA) and Dan Haren (10-5, 2.61) form one of the game’s best top of the rotation duos. The Angels vaunted pitching staff has also received help from a few unlikely places.Tyler Chatwood, 21, has been a valuable starter and innings eater. Jordan Walden, 23, a rookie closer who was chosen to replace Yankees future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera in the All-Star game, has accounted for 20 saves and solidified the Angels bullpen.Lacking big bats in the lineup, the Angels have attained success by manufacturing runs, playing defense and pitching well. However, if they want to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers for the pennant, they’ll have to acquire more power.
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