Matt Kemp and the Rest of the

Jeremy LinebagerContributor IOctober 6, 2011

Matt Kemp and the Rest of the

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    It's been a great year in baseball. Just in the last month, we were treated to two epic collapses in both leagues as Atlanta and Boston both choked away their playoff hopes.

    We saw Matt Kemp chase triple crown history.

    We saw the end of Manny being Manny (for now) and the end of Ozzie being Ozzie in Chicago (can't wait for part II in Florida).

    Now we're thick into the postseason.

    With the exception of Kemp, and teammate Clayton Kershaw, there hasn't been too much noise made about the NL West outside of California/Arizona.

    This is a look at the best of the best in the NL West in 2011 by position.

Catcher: Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    BA  -  .282

    HR  -  18

    RBI -  86

    Threw out 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal this season.

    Had it not been for Buster Posey's injury before the All Star break, this award would have been owned by Posey. But alas, we'll only be left to think about what could have been this year. None of this is meant to diminish the excellent year that Montero had for the NL West Champs.

    Backup: Nick Hundley - San Diego

First Base: James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    BA  -  .288

    HR  -  12

    RBI -  65

    In the beginning of the season, there were calls for Loney to be traded, or benched in favor of rookie Jerry Sands. After the All Star Break, Loney caught fire, hitting .320 with eight HR and 34 RBI.

    The Dodgers have an interesting move to make this offseason. They'll have to ask themselves if Loney showed them enough in the second half of the season to re-sign him. There will be star free agents out there with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but the Dodgers ownership situation may limit their interest in those players.

    Backup: Jesus Guzman - San Diego

Second Base: Kelly Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    BA  -  .209

    HR  -  18

    RBI -  49

    There are two telling signs that the second base position in the NL West needs to be improved. First, Kelly Johnson didn't even finish the season in Arizona. He was traded to Toronto. Second, he only hit .209! But still, with his 18 homers, he was easily the best at the position in the division this year.

    Backup: Orlando Hudson - San Diego

Shortstop: Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    BA  -  .304

    RBI - 11

    SB  - 24

    Yes, this is probably my Dodger homer pick! Look past the fact that he only looks like he's 15. And all of those errors? He's just a rookie folks. Also look past the fact that he makes Juan Pierre look like Barry Bonds.

    Dee Gordon was maybe the most exciting Dodger this year not nicknamed "The Bison." Gordon's plus-300 batting average, and the fact that he stole 24 bases in only 56 games shows great signs for the future in LA.

    Backup: Jason Bartlett - San Diego

Third Base: Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants

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    BA  -  .315

    HR  -  23

    RBI -  70

    Easily the best third  baseman in the division. The Kung Fu Panda was one of the only offensive bright spots for the Giants this year. The free swinging Sandoval only struck out 63 times this year, which was easily the best of his young career.

    Backup: Ryan Roberts - Arizona

Left Field: Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    BA  -  .292

    HR  -  8

    RBI -  46

    Parra may not have put up gaudy power numbers, but it is clear that opposing teams respect his abilities with the bat. Parra was intentionally walked 16 times this year which was the second most in the division.

    Backup: Cody Ross - San Francisco

Center Field: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    BA  -  .324

    HR  -  39

    RBI -  126

    SB  - 40

    Runs - 115

    Easily the best player in the NL West if not all of baseball.

    Kemp won two-thirds of the triple crown. Finished second int he NL in stolen bases. Led the NL West in runs, hits, HR, RBI, steals, batting average, OBP percentage, SLG percentage, OPS and total bases.

    Add the fact that Kemp has the longest consecutive games streak in the league, and that he plays a Gold Glove caliber CF, and you get three letters: M-V-P.

    Backup: Chris Young - Arizona

Right Field: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    BA  -  .289

    HR  -  31

    RBI -  88

    If it hadn't been for the man on the slide previous to this one, there would have been a lot more talk of Upton for MVP. Upton had a great year and scored a career high 105 runs. And he showed the toughness of a champion by being hit by 19 pitches (most in the NL West).

    Backup: Andre Either - Los Angeles

No. 1 Starter: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Win/Loss - 21-5

    ERA - 2.28

    Strikeouts - 248

    All of the stats above led the NL. Kershaw had an absolute breakout year and is the likely NL Cy Young winner. Interestingly enough, Kershaw was the only starting pitcher in the NL West who posted a WHIP of under one.

No. 2 Starter: Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Win/Loss - 21-4

    ERA - 2.88

    Strikeouts - 198

    Crazy Stat: The Yankees' castoff only had 10 career wins heading into this season! Led his team to the division title.

No. 3 Starter: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

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    Win/Loss - 13-14

    ERA - 2.71

    Strikeouts - 220

    Look past The Freak's win/loss record. The Giants only averaged 2.8 runs per game when Lincecum was starting. He also had four losses come at the hands of Kershaw.

No. 4 Starter: Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants

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    Win/Loss - 13-7

    ERA - 2.71

    Strikeouts - 139

    After not pitching in the Majors since 2006, the 33-year-old started off the year on fire and was named to his first All Star team. Even though his production tapered off just some, Vogelsong was the biggest surprise in the Giants pitching staff.

No. 5 Starter: Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

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    Win/Loss - 12-11

    ERA - 2.28

    Strikeouts - 179

    I can't explain how much it hurts me to put three Giants on this list back-to-back-to-back, but Cain is a huge part of the reason why the Giants have the best pitching staff in the NL West.

RP: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    ERA - 2.85

    Strikeouts - 96

    K/9 - 16.1

    What makes Jansen's emergence even more impressive is that he was a catcher in the Dodgers' farm system as recently as 2009. The former backstop was dominant after the All Star break. The sky is the limit on Jansen's potential.

RP: Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants

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    ERA - 1.50

    K/9 - 13.1

    SO/BB - 14.0

    The junior beard of the Giant bullpen only issued five walks. Five walks all year, in 48 innings pitched!


Closer: Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

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    ERA - 2.55

    Saves - 43

    Bell was impressive this year. Especially since he spent most of the beginning of the season being dogged by trade rumors, and the second half of the year playing for a team that was way out of contention for the division title.

    Backup - JJ Putz, Arizona