That’s what I think of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers as things begin. It’s not a bad thing for baseball if these guys are restored to relevancy.
It would be unrealistic to think that all of these former superstars will put together superstar seasons at the same time. However, if just a few of them manage it while the others become solid contributors, the Dodgers are going to be one tough out in the National League.
Major offseason moves:
Of course, let’s not forget all the damn moves they made at the end of last season. They acquired a small army of misfit toys in getting Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett for basically nothing.
After the jump, we’ll take a look at the Dodgers from top to bottom.
There’s not a lot to dislike in the Dodgers lineup.
The first thing they’ll benefit from is a full season of Matt Kemp. Kemp was on a Ruthian-like pace last season until he got hurt and finished the year only playing in 106 games. The Dodgers can expect another year of MVP stats from Kemp if he plays a full season. He’ll do his thing: 40+ home runs, 120 RBI, should hit over .300 and OPS at over a .900 clip. He’s the offensive piece that this lineup is built around.
The big wildcard is what the Dodgers will get out of aging superstars Crawford, Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez. I think one of them goes ballistic, one of them is solid, and one of them underachieves again. Any team in baseball would still like to be able to trot these three guys out there and roll the dice. Ramirez wasn’t all that bad–but he’s too good of a player to finish a season at .257 and strike out 132 times.
Adrian Gonzalez is probably the guy who I think mysteriously fades into the night of the three. He walked just 42 times last season and his power disappeared (18 HR, .164 ISO down from a career .213 ISO). He still drove in 108 runs. I think a very similar season can be expected from Gonzalez with a few less chances to drive in runs because Kemp is going to clean them up himself. I think Crawford is a better than even bet to bounce back for a year if he can stay healthy and he’ll be in the mix for NL Comeback Player of the Year.
Then you’ve got Andre Ethier who isn’t far removed from being an elite offensive corner outfielder. Ethier will have a very solid year, expect 20 home runs, 80 RBI, and a .280 average with 75 to 80 runs scored. Add in a .350 on base percentage and you’ve got a sound six hole.
Even A.J. Ellis has shown himself to be a pretty solid offensive catcher (.270, 13 HR, 65 BB last season). There aren’t a lot of easy outs in this lineup. The home park they play in will suffocate the offensive numbers a little bit, but I still think this is one of the better constructed lineups in all of baseball on paper.
My favorite aspect of the Dodgers is their ace Clayton Kershaw. I think he’s one of the top three pitchers in all of baseball along with a whole host of others who agree with me. This season, I think he’s the best. I think he’ll win 21 games, have an ERA just over 2.00 and strike out 220-plus. What more can be said about the guy other than if you turn your television on late at night and some big left-handed kid is twirling for the Dodgers, don’t turn the game off. You could see something special.
Zach Greinke is an odd one. He was pretty solid last season (15-5, 3.48 ERA) but his talent always leaves you feeling that he should be something more. I don’t know, I guess we all got a little spoiled with that brilliant 2009 season he put together on a horrific Royals team. He hasn’t been that guy again since that season ended. He’s got the upside to be a top five pitcher in the game. Instead he’s a top fifteen or twenty guy. Still, to have a pitcher most would consider an ace as your number two; you’re sitting pretty with that.
Josh Beckett has lost a lot of dependability the last few seasons. He’s not the Beckett of old and that guy is never coming back. The question with Beckett is can the Dodgers fix him so that he’s a dependable third starter. Of the players the Dodgers acquired last season, Beckett is probably the one who contributes the least. My feelings on him are that he’s accomplished a great deal and he’s settled for collecting a paycheck. His hunger for dominance is no longer there and when that is coupled with diminished skills, you see what you have with Beckett.
I’m not going to lie, I know nothing about Ryu other than he’s 25 years old, South Korean, and independently wealthy. The Dodgers signed him to a 6-year, $36 million dollar contract in the offseason to make themselves the highest bidder in the Ryu sweepstakes.
Ryu (no relation) was a bad ass in Street Fighter. Shadoukin!
You’ve got Aaron Harang going out there as the fifth starer. One night last summer Aaron Harang struck out like eleven straight hitters and tied a Major League record. What the Hell got into him that night? Did he forget he was Harang?
I like the Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen as much as I like any reliever or closer in all of baseball. He’s a flamethrower; an imposing figure on the hill who I think could be the best closer in all of baseball this season. Remember you heard it: huge things are in store for this player.
Mevs’ Projected Record:
94-68, First Place in the NL West
Unless something really strange happens, this is your NL West Champion and a sure bet to make some noise in the National League playoffs. One thing the National League hasn’t had to deal with in recent years is a dominant Dodgers team on top of all the other really solid teams. This year the NL feels so loaded because the Dodgers are really good on paper.
I love the Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. I think he has a shot to be the Manager of the Year and take this team to the NLCS and beyond. For a team who supposedly had no money, the big market Dodgers somehow found a way to still overspend in the last 18 or so months.
This team will be great, and Vin Scully is one of God’s greatest gifts. Enjoy him while we’ve still got him around!