Big Blue Tops at the Half
If you took a stab at predicting which teams would be atop the standings and poised to make a deep run into the postseason, the Yankees, Athletics, Astros, and Twins would be the first to leap to mind in the American League while the Dodgers, Braves, Nationals, and Cubs would be the favorites in the Senior Circuit.
Nearly halfway through this truncated season, we see that the Dodgers own the best record in baseball with a sizzling .733-win percentage and the addition of Mookie Betts turning them from a dangerous pretender into a true contender.
Let’s not discredit the fact that Big Blue has won the NL West seven years running and went to the World Series twice during that span. But how many World Series rings did they take home? About as many as the Padres…none. But that could all change now that they have an electric five-tool player in Betts added to their already potent lineup.
As the trade deadline looms, it appears LA has all the pieces of the puzzle to make this their year to shine and let another team be the bridesmaid for a change. The Dodgers are ranked first in the majors in run production while their pitching ERA tops every other team and places second in opponents’ batting average and WHIP. There isn’t much to tinker with but teams can never get too much pitching or depth on the bench.
When LA manager, Dave Roberts, was asked about discussions he has had with President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, ramping up to the trade deadline this year versus previous years, he remarked, “Considerably less. This is sort of sneaking up on me. Probably not so much Andrew and his staff. But I don’t know if it’s the lack of anticipation, the lack of need when you look at our ballclub. But obviously Andrew and the baseball ops guys, they’re going to be kicking tires til the end and seeing if there’s anything on the margins that we can get better. I can’t sit here and say what we need or what I think because I think because I think we’re in a good spot.”
LA Dodgers: Baseball’s Super-Team
If we peruse the picks articles over at SBR we see that the Dodgers are routinely heavy favorites, and with good reason. Staff ace, Clayton Kershaw, has picked up about three MPH’s on his fastball from last season and looks remarkably fresh, obviously having everything to do with the extended break. Moreover, the Dodgers’ starting rotation has done its fair share while the bullpen has been nothing short of brilliant.
So, are there any additions in the offing for the Dodgers? Normally, LA is at the vanguard of the trade deadline but what more can they do? A third catcher perhaps, a base thief, or maybe a utility player? Question marks abound because the Dodgers are truly that good this season and it would be a stunner if they didn’t at least win the pennant, barring, of course, any unforeseen injuries.
The Dodgers are baseball’s version of a super-team and the only crime here is that we won’t get to watch them for a full 162 games. The only team in franchise history to have a better plus-minus run differential after 30 games than the 79 posted by the 2020 Dodgers is the ’55 Brooklyn Dodgers with a +80.
“We’re trying to run away with this division,” said second baseman Enrique Hernandez. “That’s step number one to the main goal.”
Even their opponents are publicly admiring LA from afar. Rockies manager, Bud Black, stated, “I’ve watched them almost my whole career. I’ve seen the Dodgers forever. So, this is a good team. Their bullpen is formidable, Buehler is for real, Kershaw seems to be back, the kid [May] has a good arm. They’ve got a good team.”
Manager Dave Roberts has done an expert job keeping his rotation healthy, and heavy pitch counts is something the staff was aware of going into the season. “Our starters are understanding that we’re not stepping on them early and we’re doing it to our benefit collectively and their benefit individually. The buy-in from the starting pitchers has been great. So they know in a 90-pitch exercise there may be more in there but there really is no upside.”