Dodgers: Players Who Need to Have Breakout Seasons

Mar 14, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) bats against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) bats against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dodgers are loaded with talent. Some players have already shown their superstar quality, but some have not yet. The Dodgers have fallen short in the last four seasons in the postseason, but if these players have their breakout seasons in 2017, it may be enough to bring a championship back to Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are littered with talented youth. However, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal, and Julio Urias have not yet reached their full potential. This list of players that need breakout seasons excludes players over thirty, relievers, and utility players. Upward trends and adjustments hint that these players are ready to establish themselves among the superstars in Hollywood.

Joc Pederson

Mar 8, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson (31) during a spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

The first player on this list is someone who actually began his career explosively. Pederson’s moon shots caught the attention of everyone in the first half of his rookie season. However, after the All Star Break, his production was minuscule. He got better last season, raising his average by amost 40 points and cutting down his strikeouts by 40 as well. He also hit just one less homer than the year before (albeit it in less at-bats) while cutting down his swing.

In Spring Training, he is leading the Dodgers in home runs with five, but also striking out a third of his at-bats. Additionally, his on base-percentage is among the lowest on the team overall. The dynamic center fielder was pegged as a candidate to lead off, but he needs to find ways to get on base in order to earn that job. If Pederson can continue his progress and hit at least .270, 25 home runs, and strikeout around or less than 100 times, the Dodgers will have a legitimate threat with the bat and glove.

Yasmani Grandal

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The switch-hitting catcher may be the most likely to truly have a breakout season. He’s made a couple adjustments this Spring that are helping him make contact much more frequently. In 44 at-bats, entering Sunday, he’s hitting .341 with only six strikeouts.

Grandal’s brought his hands closer to his head and opened up his torso slightly to put both eyes towards the pitcher. Grandal was struggling to adjust from fastballs to off-speed pitches late last season, partly due to him pulling his hands too far back. By bringing his hands closer to his head, he can load up but still adjust to off-speed/fastball combinations.

If Grandal keeps his swing up, it’s not out of the question for him to hit .290 or above. However, a side effect is he’s not hitting for power as frequently, at least in Spring Training. It’s a small sample size so no one knows for certain if his power numbers will go down, but hitters who make this sort of adjustment usually sacrifice their power. He hit 27 home runs in just 390 at-bats in 2016, an impressive power display that the Dodgers are hoping he can replicate. Still, if Grandal is healthy, he has tremendous natural power which may keep him in the high teens or low twenties for home runs.

Julio Urias

Oct 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias (7) pitches during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals during game five of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Many can agree that Urias needs to have a breakout season in order for the Dodgers to go any further in the postseason. The Dodgers’ biggest problem was their lack of depth at starting pitching. This year, however, they look like they have plenty of it. Still, the wunderkind from Mexico needs to establish himself as a rising star since the back end of the prospective rotation has injury problems.

Urias did very well in the second half of his debut season. He has a swing and miss fastball, something all in the rotation lack except Clayton Kershaw. His curve ball command could use some work, but it would form a lethal combination that brought Kershaw to the big leagues. If Urias follows in Kershaw’s steps and develops a hard slider, it would be a potential nightmare for opponents to face another Kershaw.

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Picture it: a line up with hitters who hit at least .270 and 20 plus home runs from the 2-7 spots in the lineup. On top of that, a rotation that alternates from swing and miss heat and slow stuff, to tricksters who get hitters out the opposite way. All it takes is for these three players to have their breakout seasons, and everyone else avoiding the injury bug and keeping up what they do best. If that happens, the Dodgers could very well be World Series bound.