Kemp, McCutchen at center of their teams' hopes

Kemp, McCutchen at center of their teams' hopes

PITTSBURGH -- This week's four-game series between the Pirates and Dodgers wouldn't mean so much in terms of the National League playoff picture if each team had played this season without its respective center fielder.

Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Los Angeles' Matt Kemp are both candidates to win the NL MVP once the season ends. Each has five-tool ability, which is used to describe position players who excel in virtually every component of the game.

"They're kind of two guys that do it all," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "They run, they hit for power, they play good center field, they hit for average. Pretty much the same guy."

As far as Mattingly is concerned, the only thing that differentiates the two players is that they have different body types. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, McCutchen is smaller than Kemp, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 225 pounds.

While Kemp has missed a significant amount of time with a strained left hamstring, McCutchen has been practically injury free, managing to lead the league with a .362 average while picking up 23 homers and 71 RBIs in 110 games. In just 63 games, Kemp is batting .356 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs.

Entering Monday, the Pirates had a 2 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers for the second NL Wild Card spot.