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Kemp eyeing All-Star nod after stellar start

MLB.com @kengurnick

DENVER -- Fans must wait until the end of the season for Comeback of the Year Award results, but they can work toward Matt Kemp's unexpected return to the All-Star Game beginning Friday.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

DENVER -- Fans must wait until the end of the season for Comeback of the Year Award results, but they can work toward Matt Kemp's unexpected return to the All-Star Game beginning Friday.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 8:59 p.m. PT. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Kemp is both the most and least likely Dodgers candidate to get voted in through the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot process. He's a two-time All-Star, but his last appearance was in 2012.

Since then there have been injuries and trades, but over the first two months of the season Kemp is unleashing a rebound not even the Dodgers expected when they reacquired him in a salary swap with Atlanta in December.

Video: SF@ATL: Kemp crushes walk-off two-run homer to right

Kemp is having the best offensive season of any Dodger, and the club has needed every bit of it in lieu of their three All-Star position players from last year -- Corey Seager, who is out for the season; Justin Turner, who missed the first six weeks this year; and Cody Bellinger, slumping offensively after earning National League Rookie of the Year last season.

At the end of May, Kemp was even leading the league in batting average. The Dodgers haven't had a batting champ in 55 years -- Tommy Davis, who won back-to-back titles in 1962-63.

Kemp downplayed the early talk of awards.

"Those things are always fun, but it's more for the family and friends and all that," he said. "Honestly, all I care about is us getting to the playoffs and winning a championship. My expectations, my plan every year, is to drive in runs and make things happen for the team. All the other things are icing on the cake."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will skipper the NL All-Star team, concedes that Kemp is surprising even him.

"A guy that has his track record, the work ethic, the professionalism, the hit tool. Self-admittedly, he's learning some things in his 10th year, as far as approaching pitchers, talking to the hitters and coaches. Matt's really growing," Roberts added. "You see his at-bat quality. He's always been a guy that can drive in runs and get a hit and slug a little bit, but to take the walk, stay out of the double play, stay on a slider down and away and use the whole field, I haven't seen that consistently, even at his best. There's a lot of good things going on with Matt."

Bellinger (first base) and Turner (third base) are also on the ballot, as are Logan Forsythe (second base), Chris Taylor (shortstop), Yasmani Grandal (catcher) and Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson (outfield).

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. Listen to his podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp