The Dodgers officially clinched a playoff berth for the 8th consecutive year. They seem the likely 1 seed after defeating the Padres in their last series. All that remains is a 4 game series in Colorado, and a 6 game home stretch split evenly against the A’s and Angels to finish the year off. Currently the Dodgers are 35-15, have a major league best run differential of +102, and a NL best 12-8 against teams above .500.
Yet the Big Blue Machine has slowed down in it’s last 10 games. They are 5-5, and that’s with winning their last 2 games. Their run differential in that time, a big ole 0. So the question remains, what keys do the Dodgers need to fix to finally win a ring.
- Bullpen First to Worst
- What to do with 2nd Base?
- Make the Stars Align
Who’s On Second
For all the hype surrounding the Dodgers at second base coming into the year, it turned into their least productive position of the year. Second basemen for the Dodgers this year are slashing a below average .215/.298/.384. And that’s with having one of the higher BABIPs of all the positions at .265. Accorind to OPS+ the Dodger’s second basemen have been 30% below average.
And this isn’t from a lack of options. The Dodgers have used 5 different second basemen in Kiké, Lux, Muncy, Taylor, and even Betts. The Dodgers also promoted Spring Training Phenom Zach McKinstry who is quite familiar with second. And we like to mention that Austin Barnes can also play second base. So in total, the Dodgers have 7 guys that can claim the starting 2B job.
And it seems that all of them can handle it defensively. We haven’t seen enough from Mookie, but from what we’ve seen of him so far, he can be good at anything he puts his mind to.
Still, taking Mookie out of right weakens the Dodger’s outfield defensively, which is a huge strength when he’s out there. It seems more cool than anything else to see Betts at second. Joc would have to get incredibly hot, AJ would need to keep rolling, Muncy would need to be hot, and probably more to force Betts to second.
So that leaves the other 6.
- The Case for Taylor
He’s the hot hand and most likely will be in the mix this postseason. Offensively and defensively he’s doing fantastic of late. He’s only getting better as the season has gone on. And he’s been even hotter this last week (5 games). He’s slashing .400/.400/.950 to lead the team in OPS.
However, he’s mostly been playing outfield and shortstop for the Dodgers of late. There’s no reason to think it will change his production moving positions, but it means other Dodgers will need to heat up for the team to improve with Taylor at 2nd. But we all remember what Taylor was capable of during the 2017 Playoffs.
- The Case for Kiké
He’s the best option defensively. Offensively he’s consistently average and tends to rely on his power for production. He’s hot of late slashing .294/.368/.647 in his last 7 games. And this year he’s actually slashing .259/.294/.481 at 2B.
He’s also been know for some postseason heroics. Kike is also hitting righties well (.253/.295/.434), unfortunately Taylor is still hitting them better (.306/.394/.495). Kiké’s best chance is if he can start hitting some lefties and soon.
- The Case for Lux
Lux is almost at the 50 AB mark and only slashing .152/.250/.326. He has the worst OPS on the team. But he’s the highest rated prospect (now Rookie status) to play in the majors. Wander Franco was the only player rated better. Just a reminder that he slashed .392/.478/.719 at Triple-A in 2019. It’d be shocking if he didn’t;t figure it out eventually.
But this year the question is can he figure it out in time? If he had a full 162 he’d likely be getting hundreds of chances before the Dodgers seriously considered a demotion. However, he doesn’t have that time. He’s been given 46 ABs and he may not get many more. With 10 games left, he’d be lucky to get 30 more. He’ll need a few multi-hit efforts to gain the confidence in him back.
- The Case for Muncy
Back to back 35 home run seasons. And his saving grace this season is his 10 homers this season. We know what Muncy CAN do, but what he IS doing is bad. At least bad enough that the Dodgers wouldn’t benefit from moving him off 1st.
However, if Muncy starts hitting for OBP as well, the boost from production at second could be worth moving Cody, Turner, or someone else to first. It would most likely just give the Dodgers more matchup based approaches. He’s unlikely to be the Dodgers everyday 2B.
- The Case for Barnes
Barnes needs to be behind the plates for some games, most likely Kershaw at least in the playoffs. So no matter what, this is not an everyday fix. But if he can stay productive, he has the best all around stats at the plate of any current second baseman. It’s possible it even increases if he’s behind the plate less. That’s a lot of wear and tear on a fast player’s legs.
- The Case for McKinstry
You won’t know until you try. His spring training would’ve won him a roster spot, however after the long break, Lux’s pedigree won him the promotion first. But as we said before, Lux has the worst OPS on the team with plenty of opportunity.
Meanwhile McKinstry sported a spring slash line of .414/.452/.862. He was widely considered the next best player behind Lux in OKC. He needs to see at least a couple dozen ABs, but if he can come out of the gates hot, he could be worth the flyer in the playoffs. It also helps that he’s essentially a left handed Kike and Taylor defensively. Rios would most likely get the boot down if needed.