They’ve only been at it for about two weeks, but I really like the way the Dodgers are playing ball this season. Led by rookie manager Dave Roberts, the Dodgers look and feel and act like a TEAM. Pardon me if I am excited by something that should be a given in this sport, but the Dodgers haven’t played as a 25-man unit since the last time they won the World Series in 1988. What’s changed and why? Here are the main reasons so far.
The New Puig
As I mentioned in a Spring Training post, Yasiel Puig came to camp with a whole new outlook, thanks in part to Roberts wiping the slate clean, and also because he needs to prove himself this season. I also believe his command of English is much better and therefore he feels more a part of the crew. He shed 15 pounds and has that Bo Jackson-like speed back, running the bases like a bull and getting to every outfield ball. The difference is that he is playing with that fire again, but under control. He is hitting the cut-off guy, taking extra bases with a bit more care, and waiting for good pitches to hit. The result is just the kind of start the Dodgers needed him to have (.356 avg., .442 OBP, 9 runs scored, 5 RBIs) to spark the team like only he can.
Ki-ké, Ki-ké, Ki-ke
Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) Follow @stokes_Hunter21
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Disclaimer: We based these rankings on best strength to win the World Series. Therefore some teams that have an easier division to play in, with the least path of resistance to the postseason overall may be ranked a lot higher than a club who is equally talented, yet may play in a juggernaut of a division.
The Cubs will top our list for a second straight week despite losing 2 out of 3 games to the Rockies at Wrigley Field this weekend. The biggest reason is the pitching.
The bats are too solid not to come around and gel as the season moves along. They are playing .750 baseball after a 4 – 2 week still.
Bryce Harper is the best player on the planet, and has homered in 6 straight contests at Citizens Bank Ball Park (4 overall in a row for the MLB this year.)
Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg. Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are their top players – and all performing like it, the rest of the club is following through in their secondary roles. This team is scary.
I have the Royals as the top American League club. This squad is 8 – 1 in games that are not started by back end of the rotation man Chris Young.
The reigning 2 time pennant winners have company on the top of the Division to make it interesting, however this team has the better pedigree the last few years.
Some may say with a weekend series win – that the Dodgers should be put in front of the Giants, yet they are still only one game ahead of San Francisco.
With the Giants – there is no real weakness, while with the Los Angeles team, the Bullpen is not giving everyone confidence in the back half of games.
The Dodger Blue is still in the top 5, so I am high on them. Kenta Maeda could be the steal of the winter with how this guy is throwing so far. Reinforcements are starting to come back. Read the rest of this entry
Charlie Morton pitched shutout ball into the 7th, finishing 6 2/3 innings, 3 hits and 7 strikeouts, getting the 3-0 decision for Philadelphia over San Diego.
Trevor Brown continued his surprising power surge with a pair of homers and 4 RBI to lead the Giants to a 7-2 victory in Colorado.
Derek Holland gave the Rangers 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and striking out 4 in the 8-0 blowout in Seattle.
Justin Upton went 4 for 5 with a homer, 2 RBI and 3 runs scored in the Tigers 8-2 win over Pittsburgh.
They all owned baseball on April 12, 2016.
To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings, plus see who gained 1/2 WOB’s – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON OR SCROLL DOWN.
Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) Follow @stokes_hunter21
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Corey Seager is not even in the lineup to open the season but he is the overwhelming favorite to the win the NL Rookie Of The Year Award in 2016 MLB Action.
Update: I was wrong, Seager is was in the lineup for the opener. Having said this, there is no value to bet on him at the odd given, even though he is the overwhelming favorite.
Like we said the American League odds list, there is never a real need to play a whole season to win this award. That is unless you have to compete against a 2015’s winner in Kris Bryant, who was brought up in mid April last year.
Really this is Seager’s spot to lose.
I hate the odds for a guy who is injured to begin the campaign, nonetheless he would still be my pick for the Award.
I love the odd better for Maeda, who is slotted higher in the rotation than Matz. These odds are not glamorous to wager on either.
Perhaps the most intriguing guy on the list is Trevor Story. He is the starting shortstop while Jose Reyes is still on the inactive list – awaiting a resolution (suspension) for his part in a domestic dispute in Hawaii over the winter.
Hunter Stokes (Featured Writer) Follow @stokes_hunter21
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The Dodgers are running pretty good today with the status quo on the offensive side of the ball anyway.
Since it was agreed on that Howie Kendrick would sign a 2 year deal for $20 MIL – this is an economic win.
1st off, the Dodgers avoided the $15.8 MIL Qualifying Offer they extended their 2015 2B, then only had to pad $4.2 MIL to the total for a 2nd season.
This is a loss financially for Kendrick, who must have thought a multi-year offer of 3 – 4 campaigns must have been out there for the same kind of money that Daniel Murphy signed for (3 years at $12 MIL per AAV).
Not only did the Dodgers brass finally reel in their Starting Second Baseman, they were able to add Chase Utley as a backup/quality bench hitter for $7 MIL. If you combined Kendrick and Utley salaries, it is just $1.2 MIL over what would have happened had Kendrick accepted the QO.
Love Kendrick as a professional hitter. The man is a .293/.333/.423 career hitter – and his 2015 season closely resembled this at .295/.336/.409 in 2015 for the Dodger Blue.
It shows that the Dodgers management/ownership is also willing to fork out the necessary dollars to keep up their NL West Division prowess.
As the 3 time defending Division Champs, they are in prime position to challenge the Giants for a 4th year in a row in 2016.
This contract vaults the Dodgers up to around $245 MIL in total team salary in 2016, yet it was a necessary move.
Los Angeles is also staring at a 50% penalty for going over the Luxury Tax Threshold for a 4th straight year. They will pay around $28 MIL with cash situated as it is now.
For the fans that wanted the organization to dole up for the bigger Free Agents, it is hard to fathom paying that 50% penalty for years upon years at the present rate.
This approach has had the super management team of Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Josh Byrnes and newly appointed Alex Anthopoulos under heavy scrutiny, but may work out better in the long run.
Had the club inked Zack Greinke to his $34.42 MIL AAV, that would have put them so far in committed $ over the Luxury Tax, that they would never be able to get under for a reset.
With the 2016 season concluding without a CBA after, it is also wise not to be so far over the Luxury Tax mark when they don’t know what the new deal between the MLBPA and the owners will look like.
2017 has them over $203 MIL in contracts guaranteed to 12 guys already, but 8 players will become Free Agents after the 2016 season, and after 2017’s end comes the best news for Dodger fans. Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford will finally be off the books!
The Dodgers have a ton of young talent coming into the fold here. Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager, Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda are under team control for a long period of time here. You still have Julio Urias just coming up to the Major Leagues for service time as well.
The Infield is definitely going to be clogged up with Utley, Enrique Hernandez and Alex Guerrero on the depth chart. Guerrero is out of options and will need to be kept on the Major League Roster (or be released, waived or DFA’d).
Los Angeles has also strengthened its bench with this move. The one thing they could still use it Relief help. That may be obtained by signing more Free Agents, or perhaps this may clear the deck for another trade to happen.
The Dodgers were 10th in the NL during 2015 – with a .250 Batting Average, and losing a .293 hitter last year would have been tough for this years lineup.
With Corey Seager for a full year, and a return to prominence for Yasiel Puig, this squad could really put up some runs and improve all facets of the offense.
While the club wasn’t so great at Batting Average, they were 3rd in the Senior Circuit in Slugging Percentage at .413.
One has to also think that Chase Utley will be a lot better in reserve role – compared to his .202/.291/.363 3 Slash Line with the team last year. I would say he could be 80% like his worst year (prior to 2015), where he hit .259/.344/.425 in 2012.
For the record, baseballreference.com has Utley hitting .247/.315/.398 in 2016. I am sure the club would take that.
Whether the implementation of a lot of players on the roster – as opposed to having a limited bench and depth if they would have signed Greinke projects well to the upcoming season is yet to be determined. 4
No doubt they are not as strong in the Rotation at the top. But perhaps the addition of Scott Kazmir, the return of Hyun-jin Ryu, Alex Wood for a full year, and a surprise comeback from Brandon McCarthy could pick up the slack.
Signing Kendrick was the right move all day long. This is one less position with the team having questions for.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of bbba.work and their other members***
A big thanks goes out to our featured writer Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s featured post.