From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Major League Baseball’s All-Star teams have been named for next week’s Mid-Summer Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis, so it’s only appropriate to take a look at the best candidates for the Most Valuable Players in the American and National Leagues.
American League: Mike Trout, outfielder, Los Angeles Angels.
The two-time MVP runner-up probably won’t be passed up this time because the Angels are currently a playoff worthy team (unlike each of the past two seasons).
Trout, named to his third straight AL All-Star team on Sunday night, is hitting .308 with 20 home runs, 63 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 83 games. He has hit his first two walk-off homers this season.
Trout was the AL’s Player of the Month for June and any problems with his back has disappeared. It also helps that his protection in the lineup, Albert Pujols, is healthy this season, no longer battling plantar fasciitis.
The Angels probably won’t catch the high-flying Athletics for the AL West crown, but they appear to be a legitimate wild-card team, thanks to Trout and an improved pitching staff.
National League: Clayton Kershaw, pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers.
After missing six weeks early in the season because of injury, Kershaw has been spectacular for the Dodgers, who have gone 19-9 over their past 28 games to make up 10 games in the NL West standings over the Giants in four weeks. The Dodgers lead the Giants by a half-game entering Monday.
Kershaw is 10-2, with a 1.85 earned-run average in 87 1/3 innings over 13 starts. He has allowed 64 hits and 18 runs, walked 12 and struck out 115, but most impressively, the left-hander has a current scoreless streak of 36 innings. Opposing batters are hitting .199 against Kershaw. He likely will be named the starter for the NL in the All-Star Game.
■ The Watertown Rams will definitely miss the pitching of right-hander Dalton D’Spain, who has gone back to his native Texas for personal reasons.
The starter gave the Rams quality innings and was a key component for the team contending for the West Division title in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
D’Spain, who tossed a complete-game one-hitter at Elmira on June 20, was 3-1 in five starts with two complete games, allowing 18 hits and 22 walks to go with 28 strikeouts and a 3.48 ERA over 33 2/3 innings.
■ Amazing statistic about a Hall of Famer: Braves pitcher Greg Maddux, who threw 249 1/3 innings over 35 starts in 2000, faced two-balls, no-strikes counts against batters ONLY 11 times all season. He walked 42 batters overall that season, 12 intentionally.
Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in Major League Baseball: 1. Athletics: 2. Brewers; 3. Angels; 4. Dodgers; 5. Tigers; 6. Giants; 7. Braves; 8. Orioles; 9. Nationals; 10. Pirates.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com