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
Make the Stars Align
Only two other teams came into the season with as much star power as the Dodgers. The Astros and the Yankees.
The Asterisks have hung in around .500 which should be good enough in a very weak AL West. But it has been a rough year that has seen their Stars crumble underneath the backlash of the cheating scandal. They lost their ace Verlander to Tommy John surgery that he has yet to have. They have promoted more Rookies than any other team in baseball to keep their roster full.
The Yankees however are heating up at just the right time. They have been plagued by injury all year but are finally starting to come back to full strength. The Bombers have returned and lead by unlikely hero, Luke Voit. Their offense is probably the most deadly when healthy in all of baseball. However, their pitching has been less than desirable this year. And pitching has famously won the past several championships.
So that leaves the best in baseball Dodgers. They’ve had their fair share of injuries, but their depth has kept them not only afloat, but flying. They still have the lowest team ERA in all of baseball as well as a top 5 offense in OPS.
And somehow this team has not clicked together to reach their full potential yet. If they want to go the distance this year, they are going to need their stars to play like it.
So here is what we believe is the best Dodger lineup if they can play close to their potential. These are the stars they need to line up come playoffs.
1- Mookie Betts
- He’s been right all season, has a World Series ring under his belt already, and is the frontrunner for NL MVP. There’s no reason for concern here. As long as Mookie stays healthy, he is the literal sun on this team with the offense orbiting around him. It seems that he has a contribution in every win.
2- Corey Seager
- The Dodgers have been careful with Seager this year. He had an IL stint, but when healthy he may be the best hitter in baseball. He was slightly slumping before going 3-5 last night in Colorado with a HR, 2B, and a 1B. He’s consistently been OPSing over .900 when playing. He and Betts should be the best 1-2 punch leading off in all of the playoffs.
3- Will Smith
- Smith finally started seeing production to go with his Expected statistics rather than vice versa. And Dodger fans couldn’t be happier. He’s actually been the best Dodger hitter these last 30 days according to OPS. He’s slashing .368/.463/.702. Actually he has the highest OPS on the team currently at 1.012 after his slow start. At this rate, he could be a future MVP. Dodgers need to somehow balance keeping him hot without fatiguing him.
4- Cody Bellinger
- And here comes the biggest disappointment of the year. After putting together the best Dodger season since Matt Kemp, and actually winning the MVP, Bellinger has been about average at best on the year. He’s slashing .218/.300/.404. His defense is as valuable as ever, but he’s not even in the first half of the lineup anymore. That’s how bad he’s been.
- He had moments in August where he was the same MVP, but Bellinger cannot put it together this year. If he’s hitting for average, he’s not hitting for power and vice versa. Last year he was able to use all 5 tools. this year it seems he only has about 3 or 4 at a time. And it’s rotating. Considering that Bellinger has never above .220 in the playoffs, the question has to be asked, does Bellinger fold under pressure?
- The Dodgers don’t really have a choice as far as playing Bellinger due to his defensive ability, so the bat will be crucial.
5- Justin Turner
- Just stay healthy Turner. He has an active 24 game on base streak currently. He is Mr. Consistent for the Dodgers. We know he plays up in the moments that matter most. In his postseason career he has an OPS of .931. He’ll likely hit higher in the lineup in reality, but if everyone is hot, having Turner in the 5 spot is a massive luxury. He’ll rarely hit without runners on, and Turner gets the job done most of the time.
6- Max Muncy
- And here’s biggest disappointment part 2. If Muncy was being Muncy, he’d be the starting 2nd baseman by now. The Dodgers would have a much easier time finding someone to play first and produce. But instead Muncy has been a classic three outcome hitter. He strikeouts, walks, or mashes. But he’s batting beneath the Mendoza line. (.194/.332/.389). and lately it’s been even worse
- Muncy isn’t in danger of losing his starting spot for now, but that could change with how borderline his numbers are. If he can start moving closer to the .250 he usually hits, he’s back to being an elite hitter. But as of right now Statcast even says his expected numbers are lower than usual, granted he’s still been unlucky. He’s also not a valuable defender being in the 9th percentile in OAA. Still when he’s right he’s one of the best power hitters in baseball, and was probably the best offensive bat in a disappointing 2019 postseason.
7- AJ Pollock
- AJ is our comeback player of the year, which is crazy when you think he OPS’d .795 last year. But when he’s healthy AJ went back up a tier in player value. He’s not the 20 HR/ 40 SB threat he was in his Diamondback days, but he’s still a veteran with 5 good to great tools. He’s actually hitting his best all around since his monsterous 2015. And statcast shows it. Just stay healthy AJ and what you’ve been doing will be more than enough.
8- Chris Taylor
He’s been one of the hottest Dodgers of late, and good timing because we needed someone to produce at 2nd. And his season stats are starting to look the best we’ve seen since his breakout in 2017. He’s been incredible defensively. All we really have to say is stay hot Taylor. And if everyone else can get there, having Taylor at the bottom of a lineup is absolutely terrifying for any opposing pitcher.
9- Gavin Lux/ Joc Pederson
Finally we have the Kid and the new Dad. Both have disappointed this season. Lux has all the time in the world, but Pederson is about to be a Free Agent. We all know what both these players can do.
Even though we haven’t seen Lux succeed in the Majors, you don’t hit .400 at Triple-A by not being a good hitter. But it hasn’t come yet. He was favorite for ROY, but now he’s in danger of losing his playoff roster spot. For Lux getting hot my be life or death for his 2020 season.
As for Pederson, he hasn’t had the best season for consistency. He’s been platooning when he’s on the roster, and on and off for family reasons. Still he’s another player who can carry an offense when he’s right. Last September he slashed .344/.414/.852. If that Pederson can show up, or even close to that, the Dodgers will have the best lineup in all of baseball.