Friday, March 23, 2012

Los Angeles Dodgers Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Both the Mariners and the Athletics are now in Japan!! That can only mean that it is almost time.  Opening day is almost here!!

Our next post takes us across town, where the Dodgers are ownerless, still going through a messy divorce at the top, and still have some intriguing talent.  Let's see what they have.

Infield:  A.J Ellis at catcher, James Loney at first base, Mark Ellis at second base, Dee Gordon at shortstop, and Juan Uribe at third base.

A.J Ellis has been back and forth between the minors and the majors for the last four years.  Now he will be the opening day catcher for the Dodgers.  The prediction here is that this is the first and only opening day he will start for them.  James Loney has been a severe underachiever ever since he won the job.  He has been remarkably consistent, but that has been consistently below average.  He needs to have a big year this year or the Dodgers will be looking elsewhere next year.  Mark Ellis is a 34 year old middle infielder who didn't have much pop to begin with and now that Coors Field is in his rear-view mirror, might struggle this year.  I think he will hit around .255 but will not reach double digit home runs.  Dee Gordon can flat out fly, stealing 24 bases in 56 games.  He only had 7 walks in those 56 games, but he did hit .304 and I will think he will have a very good first full season.  He is also my pick to lead the league in stolen bases, I'm going to predict he gets to 60.  Juan Uribe looks exactly like Dusty Baker, and if Dusty were playing still would probably be about the same player.  He has always been a free swinger, but last year his swinging was downright awful.  He hit only .204 in 77 games, and at 33, his best days are behind him.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I predict that Dee Gordon will have the best season of these five.  He probably won't hit over .300, but he will still get on base enough to steal those 60 bases and score at least 100 runs.  He will never hit for any power, but these are numbers you can consistently expect from Mr. Gordon.

Outfield:  Juan Rivera in left field, Matt Kemp in center field, and Andre Ethier in right field.

Juan Rivera had a very good year for the other team in Los Angeles in 2009, and now is trying to replicate that with the dodgers.  He hits right handers well but struggles against lefties.  The Dodgers would be wise to get one of the young guys in the minors ready to go, because I think Rivera is going to be out by the end of June.  Matt Kemp should have won the MVP award last year instead of Ryan Braun, but he has to settle with being the #1 ranked fantasy player instead.  Like I stated in my division predictions, he will not get to the 50/50 like he predicted, but he will get to 35/35 again and make another run at #1.  Andre Ethier might be the best April hitter in all of baseball, but the most brittle May hitter.  He always starts out so hot and has his injury, it's like a Spring rite of passage.  When healthy he is a very dangerous hitter, so stay healthy Andre!!

Who will have the best season of these guys? Matt Kemp will have another MVP type season and will be Mr. Everything for the Dodgers.  He will hit for power, hit for average, steal bases, play great defense, and gun people out from center field.  He is a true 5 tool player and will have another dynamite season because of it.

Starting Pitching:  Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, and Chris Capuano.

Kershaw won the Cy Young last year at only 23, and he won it because he found his control.  Last year he struck out 248 hitters and walked only 54 en route to a 21-5 record with a 2.28 ERA.  His lifetime ERA?  2.88.  Look for Kershaw to continue to pound the zone with his good fastball and his hammer curve, and try and make it four years in a row the N.L. West has w0n the Cy young.  Billingsley went 11-11 last year, a remarkably pedestrian effort for someone that was supposed to be the ace of the staff a few years ago.  He is only 27, but the Dodgers expect less of him that Kershaw has emerged is a bonafide ace. Ted Lilly is another one of those pitchers that is consistently reliable.  He will not excel in any category but he will not kill you in any games either.  He is a guy you can trust to give the ball to in a pressure situation and he will give you 6 good, but not great innings.  Aaron Harang won more than 6 games for the first time since 2007 last year, but pitching half of his games in the cavern that is Petco Park helped him.  He will still be pitching in a friendly park, but look for his ERA to go up, his home runs allowed to go up, and his wins to go down.  Not by a bunch but a little.  Capuano was one of the bright spots for the Mets last year, winning double digit games and striking out 168 batters.   You could do worse for a #5 starter.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Kershaw will once again have his epic duels with Tim Lincecum and will electrify the finnicky fans of Los Angeles.  Look for Kershaw to win 20 games again this year and have an ERA under 3.  He will once again be in the running for the Cy Young.

Bullpen: Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Todd Coffey, and Matt Guerrier.

This will be the downfall of the Dodgers this year.  The bullpen will give up countless leads that the starters have given them.  I do not trust any of these guys.  Javy Guerra filled in admirably once Jonathan Broxton went down last year, and now the job is his.  Guerra will be on a short lease because the more talented Kenley  Jansen struck out an amazing 96 batters in only 50 innings.  That is absurd!  That averages 16 strikeouts to every 9 innings, which is the most in MLB history with a minimum 50 innings pitched.  Coffey went from Cincinnati to Milwaukee to Cincinnati to Milwaukee and ended up in Washington last year.  Now he is with the Dodgers.  He will be the guy relied on to get those two mentioned earlier, and I don't think he will be able to do it successfully as there is a reason he is already on his fourth team.  I think he will end up on at least three more before his career is over.  Guerrier has been an effective reliever, not good enough to be a closer, but good enough to have a 9 year career that won't be ending this year.  With all of this being said do you trust any of these guys in a pressure situation? I don't.... yet.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Jansen will have the best year and will be the closer at the end of the year.  He won't strike out 16 batters per 9 innings but he will pitch more innings and will get to 100 strikeouts, which is amazing for a reliever.  For that reason alone I am picking him over Guerra.

Record: 80-82, fourth in the National League West

Next up:  Miami Marlins

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