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Ethier and Kemp Among League's Elite

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I don’t want to beat a dead horse. Frankly, I don’t want to beat any horses. I do, however, feel a deep need to perform my civic duty and illuminate some additional reasons for the swift and generous resigning of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp to long term contracts.

As I mentioned in mypost here last week, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are at the point in their respective careers where the Dodgers need to make a decision about them. Their sample sizes are large enough, their track records are strong enough and their trajectories are clear enough. This was all made so painfully apparent as the NL MVP voting came in today.

Both Kemp and Ethier finished in the top 15 places for the NL MVP. Kemp finished in 7th place while Ethier finished in 13th. This isn’t a potato sack race and there aren’t going to be ribbons handed out to all participants. That isn’t to say these rankings aren’t incredibly poignant evidence of what the Dodgers have.

I'll put it bluntly: If your name is on this list, every team in the league wants you on their roster.

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The list of players Kemp was perceived stronger than is staggering. He placed ahead of Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. The list of players he finished behind is equally staggering as it includes Albert Pujols, Chase Utley and Hanley Ramirez.

In fairness, the list is not perfect. Tim Lincecum, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter have added value being pitchers. They are lower on this list only because they only get to play every fifth day. That said, every single player on this list would command top dollar on the free agent market. It reads like a shopping list for the Yankees.

For anyone still not sure what I am getting at, it's simple: Kemp and Ethier are among the league’s elite.

I think fans that have trouble seeing that are still jaded by the steroid days where it was common to hit 40 home runs and drive in 120 runs. Ballplayers with Kemp and Ethier's skill sets are now few and far between. To have them both is a spoil of riches. It's why the Dodgers are frequenting the NLCS (albeit not winning it). It's also why there was a large contingency of Dodger Nation that wouldn't have minded if Manny Ramirez declined his player option to return to left field next year.

My how times have changed.

Truthfully, the debate really isn’t about if Kemp and Ethier are better or worse than the other players on that MVP list. The debate is about whether the Dodgers have a shot at upgrading either center or right field. The only other true outfielder on this list is Ryan Braun and he’s in left field for good reason (his hands are actually bricks with fingers).

There was a time not long ago where the Dodgers couldn’t find a power bat to save their lives. There was a time they could not score runs. There was a time the front office would have given an arm and a leg for a Matt Kemp or an Andre Ethier.

Now we have those ballplayers under our control. The question is simple. What are we going to do with them?