Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Pre-Season Profile: Los Angeles Dodgers


The Los Angeles Dodgers won their fourth straight division title in 2016, but have yet to see all these postseason appearances result in even a World Series birth.  Will 2017 be more of the same, or bring about a change in fate for the better or worse?

My 2016 Predictions
2nd in NL West, WILD CARD, lose in NLDS
Yasiel Puig will be traded by the Trade Deadline.

2016 Results
91-71, 1st in NL West, lost in NLCS
For awhile, people were wondering if Clayton Kershaw's Dodgers could win a postseason series, let alone make a deep championship run.  Well, in 2016 Kershaw stepped up and led his team passed the NLDS only to run into the buzzsaw that was the Cubs.  For a rookie manager, and a team that had struggled in the postseason, this wasn't a bad season.  However, with the amount of money being spent on this team, anything less than a World Series is a disappointment.

Additions / Subtractions
For the most part, the Dodgers were fairly quiet this offseason.  They added some outfield depth in Franklin Gutierrez.  However, the big story around them all offseason was not if they were going to trade for a second baseman, but which second baseman were they going to trade for.  After being linked to the Twins' Brian Dozier for most of the offseason, the Dodgers pulled the trigger on the Rays' Logan Forsythe.

Most Important Hitter
Yasmani Grandal
With all the stars on the Dodgers, a guy like Yasmani Grandal is easily overlooked.  However, he has been one of the most productive catchers offensively in the entire league over the last few seasons.  Acquired from the Padres in the strange Matt Kemp deal, Grandal put up 27 homers in 2016.  With emerging stars like Corey Seager and Justin Turner anchoring the heart of the order with a professional hitter like Adrian Gonzalez, a bat like Yasmani Grandal, if he keeps up this production, could emerge as an unlikely star that adds to the depth of the batting order.

Most Important Pitcher
Rich Hill
The starting rotation, in a lot of ways, still feels like Clayton Kershaw and everybody else.  Ever since Zack Greinke left for Arizona before last season, the Dodgers' rotation has lacked a lot of depth.  Mid-season last year, the Dodgers acquired Rich Hill from the A's.  Hill had been working to resurrect his career, and had successfully done so.  Now he is a 37 year old starter and is being counted on to be, at the least, a complement to Kershaw.  At the most, he will be looked to as the second ace of the Dodgers' staff.

Player to Watch
Cody Bellinger
A strong farm system is one that can absorb blockbuster trades that help the team now while not fully giving up the future.  That is what the Dodgers have.  Although they traded away a big arm like Jose De Leon to bring in Logan Forsythe, they still have phenoms like Julio Urias and reigning Rookie of the Year Corey Seager who played last season, as well as a guy like Cody Bellinger who is set to make his debut this season.  Depending on how he progresses, and how well the Dodgers' outfield plays, this 21 year old outfielder might be seen mid-season or as a September call-up.  Either way, if the Dodgers end up making a postseason run, look for Bellinger to be an impact player down the stretch much like Seager was in 2015.

2017 Prediction
1st in AL West, lose in NLDS
The Dodgers seem to be a great regular season team, but not a strong postseason team.  2017 should bring about more of the same.  They should easily win the division this year.  However, once they hit the playoffs, I see them struggling again.  I don't see them having improved themselves enough to beat either of the teams I have ahead of them.  Almost any other team would feel some sense of success in a season like this.  For the Dodgers, this looks like it will be another season of disappointment.

Fearless Prediction
Dodgers will finish runner-up in both the MVP and Cy Young races.
Every year Clayton Kershaw plays is a year he will contend for the Cy Young Award.  I see him coming up just short in 2017, but he will still be quite dominant.  On the flip side, Corey Seager is emerging as one of the great superstars in our game today.  He might not get all the way to winning the MVP this season, but he will get close.  Look for him to win at least one in the next 5 years.

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