June 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier (16), right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) and center fielder Matt Kemp (27) following the 6-1 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers: Predicting Their Outfield Once Matt Kemp Returns

With Matt Kemp currently struggling during his rehab stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ AAA affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes, the speculation around Los Angeles is what the team’s outfield will look like once their slugger does return.

Kemp has played in only 62 games this season due to injury, and the team’s turnaround was undoubtedly when rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was called up to the show.

Here are the candidates for the other two starting outfield spots once Kemp is back on the biggest of stages in Hollywood.

Carl Crawford: In a bounce-back season from his horrendous stint with the Boston Red Sox, Crawford has managed to hit an impressive .295 in 99 games for the Dodgers. He has also knocked in 28 runs and stolen 13 bases, and has provided Don Mattingly with a consistent presence at the top of the order for the majority of the season.

Andre Ethier: Ethier has made a name for himself in L.A. for his clutch hits, particularly home runs.  Regardless, Ethier has had just a so-so season to this point. In 133 games, he has hit .280, but has only been able to drive in 50 runs. In just 16 more games a season ago, he contributed 39 more RBIs.

Yasiel Puig: If it wasn’t for bone-headed decisions and off the diamond struggles, Puig would be a shoe-in for one of the outfield positions. Instead, he may very well be the odd man out. In 80 games as a big-leaguer, Puig has managed an incredible .351 batting average, along with 14 homers, 32 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. Throw out the numbers, and this Cuba-native plays the game with a passion that is unprecedented but lacks the composure to make smart decisions at times.

My prediction: Kemp, Ethier, and Puig get Mattingly’s approval initially, but the youngster has a very short leash with a proven veteran in Crawrford on the pine.

Tags: Andre Ethier Carl Crawford Don Mattingly Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kemp Yasiel Puig

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