For all the negativity surrounding the Dodgers’ offseason thus far, these articles should give the Dodger fans hope.
If I made a word cloud of comments and tweets regarding the Dodgers’ offseason, there would likely be huge blank spaces of censored profanity around words like “rebuilding” and “disappointing”. It would not be a pretty word cloud, despite the positivity of this website and other Dodger blogs and writers.
While some national media are sour on the Dodgers, there is undoubtably still reason to be excited about next season and the near future.
An ESPN article pointed me to the first piece of positive information. David Schoenfield of ESPN broke down the path to the playoffs for each NL West team, and there is reason to be optimistic about the Dodgers. Schoenfield points out that Fangraphs LOVES the Dodgers, and while you shouldn’t take projections as anything more than projections, Fangraphs is probably more optimistic about the Dodgers than I am.
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I’ve noticed Dodger fans (rightfully) almost always assume the worst. People point to the terrible second half, led by Joc Pederson‘s struggles to make solid contact and Yasmani Grandal‘s struggles to swing a bat with a shoulder injury. People are quick to forget how great Joc was for most of the first half . He posted an unsustainably high BABIP in April, which was the only month he hit over .240. Joc will never be a high-average hitter, but if he can sustain the power and on-base skills, he has a ton of value even with a low average. Grandal was pretty much the best or second best offensive catcher in baseball before his shoulder injury, and it’s reasonable to think both of them will bounce back next year. Add in a full year of Corey Seager instead of Jimmy Rollins and hopefully more than 79 games of Yasiel Puig, the offense should be much improved.
September 28, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson (31) walks to the on-deck circle during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 3-2 in 12 innings. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The pitching is definitely the biggest question mark, but projections also seem to like the Dodgers rotation and bullpen. Despite losing Zack Greinke and not adding Hisashi Iwakuma, the Dodgers are projected to have the best pitching staff (by WAR) in baseball (22.5 WAR combined), with 18.5 of that coming from their rotation (Mets have the second highest proj. rotation WAR at 18.4). Their bullpen is also projected for the third highest bullpen WAR (4.0, only behind Boston and NYY). Obviously, projections are wrong more often than not, but this team is starting from a good place and it’s still premature to say the Diamondbacks or Giants are better than the Dodgers.
Given all that information, Fangraphs has the Dodgers projected for a 95-win season, which is three more than last year. That seems like an insane projection and probably is unlikely, but it should be a helpful reminder than even as the team stands right now, if things pan out they are still a very good team.
On the farm, Dodger fans should already be excited for Corey Seager. We all got a glimpse of what he can bring to the table at the end of last season, when he triple-slashed .337/.425/.561 in 113 plate appearances. Much like the rest of the Dodger offense, Seager struggled in the postseason against the Mets, but he gave us a glimpse of the future and it looks very bright.
Seager still has rookie status and will enter next season (presumably) as the starting shortstop. Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline.com is doing a series of polls, and the first poll should give Dodger fans hope.
Mayo polled 33 front office members and asked two questions. He asked for the No. 1 prospect and top pitching prospect headed into 2016. Surprisingly, Julio Urias only received one vote for top pitching prospect, but the first question was much more kind.
Three players received votes as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford received one vote, and Mayo wrote that it essentially became a debate between Twins’ OF Byron Buxton and Seager. Buxton had been the top prospect for the last two seasons on MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, but only received four votes in Mayo’s poll. Seager ran away with the top honor, garnering 27 of the 33 votes (one voter couldn’t choose between Buxton and Seager). Here are some blurbs on Seager.
"“I certainly understand Buxton’s upside, but I’d go with Corey Seager,” a second general manager said. “Rarely do you find a player with both a high floor and high ceiling. He not only has skills and tools, but also great makeup to go along with it.”“The impact bat at the shortstop position, plus the fact that he has been more durable, gives him the edge for me,” one pro scouting director added.“[Seager is] an extremely polished bat with the ability to do damage,” one assistant GM said. “He gives high-caliber defense on the left side of the infield. He is a huge-ceiling player with a high probability to succeed.”"
The negativity surrounding the Dodgers at the moment is sort of astonishing, but it’s understandable. I just turned 25 on Saturday, so while I’ve seen five Laker parades, the Dodgers haven’t had a championship parade in my lifetime. It’s impossible to make a move that guarantees a championship, but on paper the Dodgers are arguably worse than they have been in recent years. No team has ever won a championship on paper. Dodger twitter is a negative place right now, but these posts from ESPN, MLB.com and Fangraphs should give fans some hope.