- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti officially endorsed the team's center fielder, Matt Kemp, for the National League Most Valuable Player award on Friday, pointing to the season-long consistency of Kemp's performance and his ability to complement his power with speed on the basepaths as the deciding factors.
"I can't think of a long stretch when he (has struggled)," Colletti said. "Just look at his numbers in the Triple Crown categories plus his stolen bases. I don't think there is anybody else who is in the top three in home runs, RBI and stolen bases.
"The only thing he hasn't done is win 20 games."
Kemp entered the final six games of the season with a decent shot at becoming the National League's first Triple Crown winner in 74 years and the first in the majors in 44 years. He ranked third in the league in batting at .326, second in home runs with 36 and first in RBIs with 118. He also had 40 steals, giving him an outside chance of becoming the fifth player in major league history to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season.
One factor that could hurt Kemp's MVP cause, though, is the Dodgers' failure to make the playoffs. If many of the MVP voters -- 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, two from each of the 16 NL cities -- take the words "Most Valuable" literally, they could opt for a player they deem more valuable to a playoff-bound club.
"I can see it both ways," Colletti said. "I was with the Cubs in 1987, when the team finished last and Andre Dawson won the MVP. Before (that), Ernie Banks won it back to back (1958-59) with fifth-place Cubs teams. It can happen here or there, where a team doesn't win but a player still wins the award."
Asked point-blank whether Kemp is his choice for MVP, Colletti didn't hesitate.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "That is easy for me. We have seen a consistent performance, and we have seen it at a high level. The crossover from speed to power, for me, is what really separates him. It's easy for me (to endorse) a guy challenging for the Triple Crown. Then when you add 40 stolen bases next to it, that is impressive."
Colletti also endorsed Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young Award, citing the fact he has beaten San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum four times in four head-to-head matchups and gone 5-0 in six starts against the defending World Series champion Giants.
"Maybe he pitches in a pitchers' park and all that, but they can still hit singles," Colletti said of Kershaw, who looks like a strong bet to win the pitching version of the Triple Crown because he presently leads the NL in ERA (2.27) and strikeouts (242) and is tied for the league lead with 20 wins.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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