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Los Angeles Dodgers' First-Half Grades: Some Great, Some So-So, Some Bad

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Los Angeles Dodgers' First-Half Grades: Some Great, Some So-So, Some Bad
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Clayton Kershaw should be baseball's first $200-million pitcher.

COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Dodgers had quite the first half of the season. At times, they looked like the worst team in baseball with lineups that included Luis Cruz, Ramon Hernandez, Skip Schumaker and Justin Sellers and throwing pitchers such as Josh Beckett, Matt Magill and Ted Lilly.

If not for the month of June and the first half of July, the Dodgers would be in the Carlos Rodon/Trea Turner sweepstakes. But thanks to guys like Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers' first half (47-47) has been saved.

The team is 2 1/2 games out of first place, trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks. And the Dodgers, despite Matt Kemp's recent injury, look primed to make a strong second-half run.

Here are some grades for the Dodgers in the first half:

Catcher/Infield

A.J. Ellis: He isn't hitting as well as he did last season. His walk rate is down a touch as is his strikeout rate, but he hasn't gotten as many hits so far. He's third on the team in FanGraphs' wins above replacement at 2.0. He's also thrown out 50 percent (22 of 44) attempted base-stealers, which is great. Grade: B

Tim Federowicz: He isn't hitting much (.190/.236/.345), but he has popped a few home runs (three) and, like Ellis, is throwing out a lot of attempted base-stealers (54 percent, 7 of 13). Grade: C

Adrian Gonzalez: The burly first baseman was one of the most consistent (and healthy) Dodger hitters of the first half. His .297/.347/.479 triple slash and team-leading 14 home runs were worthy of an All-Star appearance, but he finished in fifth place in the Final Vote. The 31-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down. Grade: B

Mark Ellis: Though he's dealt with nagging injuries, Ellis has been decent. He had a two-home run game in New York earlier this season and has been no slouch with the glove. The Dodgers could still use an upgrade (hint: Chase Utley), but Ellis would be a fine backup. Grade: C-

Juan Uribe: Probably the most surprising player for the Dodgers in the first half. Uribe is actually a contributing member of the club and has helped to stabilize third base, even if Don Mattingly continues to play Nick Punto in his place at times. Grade: B

Hanley Ramirez: The Dodgers' leader in WAR (2.6) and the main reason this team isn't sitting in last place anymore. Ramirez is hitting like an All-Star. The only thing that knocks his grade down is his injuries. Grade: A-

Outfield

Carl Crawford: He was the stabilizer early on when the big hitters were either struggling or hurt. He's dealt with injuries this season and has been terrible since coming off the disabled list. Still, he could be in line for a big second half. Grade: B

Matt Kemp: The biggest disappointment of the first half, Kemp hasn't been able to get on track. When it finally looked like he was getting on track, he hurt his shoulder for the third time in less than a calendar year. Grade: D-

Andre Ethier: Oh, where has the power gone, Mr. Ethier? He got hot in June, but still is under-performing this season. With Kemp's bum shoulder and Crawford's balky hamstring, Ethier will likely be a Dodger the remainder of the season. Grade: C

Yasiel Puig: The spark plug, Puig's first month-plus was one for the ages. He's dealing with a hip injury that should get better with a few days off during the All-Star break. Grade: A

Rotation

Clayton Kershaw: I'm going to keep this short -- he's the best pitcher in the game. Pay that man his money. Grade: A+

Zack Greinke: Inconsistent and injured, but Greinke's last two outings have been masterful. He's really primed for a big second half. Grade: B

Hyun-Jin Ryu: The 26-year-old rookie has been better than advertised and is second to Kershaw in a number of pitching categories. The Dodgers couldn't ask for more. Grade: A-

Chris Capuano: He's had some great outings and some horrible outings. He'll need to pitch better to retain a rotation spot. Grade: C-

Stephen Fife: One of the bigger surprises of the first half, Fife has been surprisingly effective, despite suffering two minor shoulder injuries. Grade: B+

Matt Magill: Had a few good starts, but looked unready for the majors at times. Grade: D

Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly: Both have been injured and ineffective. Grade: F

Chad Billingsley: Lasted all of two starts before needing Tommy John surgery. Grade: INC

Bench

Jerry Hairston: Not as good as he was last season; still somewhat decent. Grade: D+

Nick Punto: Started off great, but his production has plummeted greatly. Grade: C-

Skip Schumaker: Not hitting enough to justify 212 plate appearances. Grade: D+

Scott Van Slyke: Another surprise, Van Slyke is actually a productive bench piece with much-needed power. Grade: B-

Luis Cruz, Dee Gordon, Ramon Hernandez, Justin Sellers: None of these guys produced enough to justify long-term roster spots. Grade: F

Alex Castellanos, Elian Herrera: Haven't played enough to warrant letter grades. Grade: INC

Bullpen

Kenley Jansen: Having one of the best seasons of his career. Is the clear-cut best reliever the Dodgers have. Grade: A

Paco Rodriguez: Having a great season and Mattingly appears to be trusting him more. Grade: A-

Ronald Belisario: Started off horribly, got better as the season progressed. Getting back to being reliable. Grade: C

J.P. Howell: One of the most consistent pitchers on the team. His signing looks like a steal at this point. Grade: B+

Brandon League: An unmitigated disaster. Grade: F

Matt Guerrier: Not a good pitcher, now a member of the Chicago Cubs. Grade: D-

Jose Dominguez, Chris Withrow: Small sample size, but great results thus far. Grade: B

Javy Guerra, Peter Moylan, Josh Wall: Pitched mostly in mop-up duty. Guerra and Moylan back in Triple-A, Wall traded to the Miami Marlins. Grade: D

Shawn Tolleson: Walked the only two hitters he faced before needing back surgery. Grade: INC

Manager

Don Mattingly was almost fired, maybe. He persevered through the rough stretch to get his team to .500 at the break. If it weren't for his incessant bunting, by-the-book bullpen use and constant double-switches, this grade would probably be higher. Grade: C+

General Manager

Ned Colletti's in-season moves in 2013 have been pretty good. He saved the team $2 million on the Aaron Harang-for-Hernandez swap. He acquired Ricky Nolasco and international spending money for three prospects who project as middle relievers. He swapped Guerrier for Carlos Marmol and international spending money. He signed Ian Stewart, who is now in Triple-A, and he designated Cruz for assignment. All in all, a good run. That call could change in two weeks with the trade deadline approaching, but he's been good so far. Grade: A-

Overall

The Dodgers have underachieved greatly this season. A team with a $230-plus million payroll shouldn't spend extended time in last place. The Dodgers overcame injuries and resemble the team many thought they'd be in April. There's still some tinkering to be done and players to get fully healthy, but the Dodgers could be a freight train in the second half. Grade: C

Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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