2016 Recap: 91-71, 1st in the NL West. Lost in NLCS to Chicago 4-2. For the fourth season in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West and for the fourth season in a row the Los Angeles Dodgers came up short in the playoffs. It was a pretty wild year for the guys in blue. Troubled outfielder Yasiel Puig hit an all time low in late summer and was sent to Triple A. Meanwhile, LA’s starting pitching staff dealt with injuries all season as 15 different players started at least one game for the Dodgers in 2016. The Dodgers spent most of the offseason resigning their own as they handed out new contracts to Justin Turner, Rich Hill and All-Star closer Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers also dipped into their loaded farm system and dealt right handed starter Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay for second baseman Logan Forsythe in an attempt to add some consistency to the top of their batting order.
Significant Additions: 2B Logan Forsythe, 1B/OF Darin Ruf, RHP Sergio Romo, OF Franklin Gutierrez
Significant Subtractions: INF/OF Howie Kendrick, OF Josh Reddick, C Carlos Ruiz
Projected Lineup and Breakdown:
- 2B Logan Forsythe
- SS Corey Seager
- 3B Justin Turner
- 1B Adrian Gonzalez
- C Yasmani Grandal
- CF Joc Pederson
- RF Yasiel Puig
- LF Andrew Toles
The Dodgers lineup has reached a point where it probably has more name value than it does actual production. First basemen Adrian Gonzalez hit just 18 home runs last season and had his lowest slugging percentage (.435) in a season since he became a full time player in 2006, and finished with an OPS below .800 for the first time in his career. Center fielder Joc Pederson has not developed offensively the way LA had hoped he would and has become unplayable against left handed pitching. Pederson went 8 for 64 against lefties in 2016 before becoming apart of a platoon in center field by early summer. With Puig’s struggles well documented, the Dodgers lineup could quickly become a two man band led by second year star Corey Seager and third basemen Justin Turner if they cannot get consistent production from the bottom two thirds of their lineup.
Projected Rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:
- LHP Clayton Kershaw
- RHP Kenta Maeda
- LHP Rich Hill
- LHP Scott Kazmir
- LHP Julio Urias
- RHP Kenley Jansen – Closer
- RHP Pedro Baez
- LHP Grant Dayton
- RHP Sergio Romo
- LHP Luis Avilan
The Dodgers rotation, if healthy, could be one of the best in the National League, the problem is there is almost no way they are getting anywhere close to 200 innings from at least two of their projected starters. Rich Hill’s story is amazing and when he has pitched over the last two seasons, he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball posting a 2.01 ERA. The problem is Hill just cannot stay healthy (made just 20 starts in 2016) and the Dodgers will be lucky to get more than 150 innings out of the 37 year old lefty. Julio Urias is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Hill, at 20 years old Urias does not have much injury concern and the Dodgers would like to keep it that way as there is already talk about sending Urias to extended spring training to start the year in an attempt to limit his innings in 2017. In case you haven’t heard, Clayton Kershaw is really good and Kenta Maeda adapted well to pitching in the Major Leagues last season as he appears to be a solid mid-rotation starter. Outside of that, there will be a lot of moving parts to this Dodgers rotation as I can see them leading the league in starters used again in 2017. The late winter addition of Sergio Romo should solidify the Dodgers pen in front of Kenley Jansen enough to make this a very respectable group throughout the season.
Stud: SP Clayton Kershaw. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and there is really no arguing that. Kershaw missed a month last season with a back injury and still finished as a top 10 starting pitcher in standard leagues despite only throwing 149 innings. If you’re hesitant on taking Kershaw in the first round because of last season’s injury, I can understand that, but Kershaw is so dominant and so much better than everyone else at his position it is still worth the risk. I am not shying away as I have Kersh comfortably as a mid to late first round pick again in 2017.
Sleeper: 2B Logan Forsythe. Forsythe is the kind of pick that no one at your draft table will remember. No one is going to say “nice pick” or curse at you for stealing him from their team, but it’s late round values like Forsythe that can help you win your league. Forsythe finished as a top 10 second basemen in 2015 and was on a similar per game pace in 2016, but injuries limited him to 127 games. Forsythe is expected to lead off for the Dodgers and should see a boost in runs scored to go along with is 20 homer and 10 steal potential. Currently going as the 18th second baseman off the board, I’ll be happily grabbing Forsythe in plenty of drafts this season.
Bust: SP Rich Hill. I talked earlier about Hill’s dominance on the mound over the last two seasons as well as his major injury concerns. All starting pitchers are an injury risk as that is just the nature of the position, however Hill’s injuries aren’t something you can debate. They are going to happen. It is for that reason that I cannot get on board with Hill currently going as the 29th starter off the board. To take someone like Hill that high, you need to alter your draft and reach for more starting pitching than you normally would to make up for the time Hill will miss. No thanks, I’ll take someone who at least has a chance to reach 180 innings for my fantasy team.
2017 prediction: Despite having some pretty major concerns about the Dodgers lineup and pitching staff, I still think this is a good team and are still just a step ahead of the rival Giants in the race for October. I think they end up having some better luck with pitching injuries this season and grab their fifth straight division title. 92-70, 1st in the NL West.
Check out our other 2017 team previews here.
Photo Credit: Sporting News
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs
Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 2/22
Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC