Kemp and Clayton Kershaw don't repeat their 2011 seasons—but Ethier (11 HRs) and Chad Billingsley (11--11, 4.21 ERA) do. That makes it impossible for the Dodgers to hang around in the wild-card race.
After a down year in which G.M. Dan O'Dowd says "the game sped up on him," Carlos Gonzalez regains his MVP-caliber form. A surprisingly sturdy rotation led by lefty phenom Drew Pomeranz puts Colorado back into contention.
O'Dowd's six 32-and-older imports contribute clubhouse leadership—and declining production, leaving Troy Tulowitzki to again try to win games by himself. That's something even he can't do.
Newly acquired slugger Carlos Quentin—he has hit four fewer homers since 2008 than A-Rod—and a rotation buoyed by prospect Joe Wieland turn the Padres into a surprise contender, as they were in 2010.
The Padres finish last, as expected, and centerfielder Cameron Maybin and first baseman Yonder Alonso see their development plateau—suggesting that a dark present will be matched by a dark future in San Diego.